Monday, January 17, 2011

Tunisia Rising

It is too early to say whether the recent events in Tunisia represent a genuine grass roots democratic movement. But it is encouraging. There are no democracies in the Arab World. North Africa is no exception. Under the dictatorship of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali Tunisia has been ruled with an iron fist since 1987. However when a local trader named Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid in protest at the police confiscating his fruit an vegetable stand, riots broke out which snow balled across the nation leading to a situation that forced Ben Ali to flee the nation he had dominated for decades. Like so many dictators before him he has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia. Today Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi who has stepped in as leader on an interim basis has released many political prisoners and lifted restrictions on the media. It is a good start. There will no doubt be concern in Washington, Tel Aviv and other capitals that this might provide an opportunity for Islamists to step into the vacuum and dominate the country in a similar way as happened in Algeria in the early 1990s. But we should be positive an optimistic and hope that this will be a lesson to all the autocrats across the Arab world that if you push your people too much for too long, the slightest little thing can trigger your down fall.


thesystemworks said...

The democratic/demographic tide is against the Middle Eastern autocrats, and they know it. As much as the Americans may want Mubarak in power, or the leftists want Ahmadenijad (make no mistake that they do), the game will end for most.

However, the Islamists are going to be major beneficiaries even in Tunisia. Rashid Gannouchi (not to be confused with the current effective PM) is returning from exile. He leads the banned Nahda party, the biggest Islamist bloc. They are calling for a democratic election that they will most certainly win. In fact, every Arab regime were to hold elections today, Islamists would certainly win, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Fine by me. The mixture of religion and politics ultimately corrupts religion itself and creates a distate for both among the populace. I for one prefer dealing with Islamists. At least they are honest about their intentions. It would also show up the lies of the left who claim only a tiny minority of Muslims are fundamentalists, when in fact most young Muslims even in London and Paris support imposing Sharia law on all of us as well as violent jihad.

Paul said...

I agree with thesystemworks, I also doubt that real democracy will result. The result would most probably be an elected theocracy, then no more elections. However that would be a serious problem for the west make no doubt. Interestingly as Ben Ali goes into exile in Saudi Arabia, guess where Gannouchi spent his exile? In London!

Oh yes and what will happen in Irish cities after a little while:

Ted Leddy said...


As my dear old mother used to say "better the devil you know". Perhaps this is true of the Nahda Party and other Islamists. But one thing I am sure of, Israel could not hold out against the entire Arab world (including North Africa) if every nation were controled by a Hezbollah/Nahda/Muslim brotherhood type organisations. So until this long awaited Islamic reformation arrives or some democratic movement (or compromise) specific and unique to the Arab Muslim world, perhaps the Mubarak's and Ben Ali's are the best we can hope for. But I must say, I have been impressed by the Tunisian people over the last month. I have never been one to say, "they are neither capable or deserve a true democracy". They are entitled to give it their best shot !

Ted Leddy said...


I sometimes wonder if Britain has a self destructive streak in it. I can't imagine an Irish city ever becoming like that, as described in the Telegraph article. And I'm sure it won't be long until Gannouchi starts preaching violence against the west including Britain. Allowing someone who hates your nation to reside in it, use its free society and democratic institutions to try to bring it down is unforgivable. Only a nation that is very low on confidence and unsure of its place would do this. And as you know, Gannouchi is only a small timer in this regard compared to some of the mad men residing in the UK.

Paul said...

'Allowing someone who hates your nation to reside in it, use its free society and democratic institutions to try to bring it down is unforgivable. Only a nation that is very low on confidence'

Or a nation ham strung by the Human Rights Act? It is that which allowed scum like Gannouche to reside as he could not be deported due to fear of mistreatment. Introduced as it was by shyster Blair, whose wife then made a packet out of it as her chambers conveniently chose to specialise in Human Rights cases. Ireland is signed up to the HRA and the ECHR, the only reason Ireland's Muslims are more innocuous in comparison to Britain’s is that they are fewer in number. Once their number increases, what have been low key demands for accommodation will be demanded as of right. The criminality and aggression displayed towards non-Muslims unfortunate enough to share the ghettos will increase. But of course when mainstream politicians mention this they will be pilloried as racists or 'Islamaphobes'. As Jack Straw was recently for saying the truth about how Pakistani gangs target non-Muslim children for rape. Plus you'll have an entire cottage industry of leftist lawyers and political opportunists (Galloway etc) who will look to make capital out of a easy audience.

You're in the pocket of the EU friend, sorry to say it but guess what that EU's policy is towards Islamic immigration and expansion into North Africa?

thesystemworks said...

Ted: Has more secular Arab nationalism been fantastic for Israel, or minorities like the Kurds and Greeks (there was once a large community in Egypt) - even the insignificant numbers of remaining Jews in their lands? Arab nationalism like the Pan-Arabist movement can only want Jews banished from their vision of 'one empire, one people, one leader'.

Paul: I read somewhere that a Danish government minister's house was torched by fanatical Muslims recently because she refused a local Muslim cleric's demands to operate a Sharia blood money system, whereby a murderer could pay the victim's family to avoid punishment. What we are seeing in Europe is a massive suppression of democracy and free speech since the murder of Pim Fortuyn by a far-left supporter of jihad.

The Human Rights Act was a disgrace to England, a country that has built up a fine tradition of tolerance and human rights since the Magna Carta through the common law - but Tony wanted to show what good little Europeans we were.

On Islamists again: I may have said this before here. But I shall never forget meeting a certain Rabbi Horowitz, who was a religious affairs advisor from Israel during the Oslo process. He told me when I met him in Jerusalem last about one experience with the Saudi delegation. He approached some Saudi diplomats intending to argue that the Quran supports Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, aka Zionism. To his surprise, they did not put up an argument - they enthusiastically agreed with him! However, they indicated towards Rabin and Peres at the other end of the room and said something like: ''yes, the land is yours, but those men are not representative of the Jews for us. They are atheists, after all''. They said they would tolerate any Jewish state that was lead by the likes of the Rabbi - but not heathen Westerners like Shimon Peres!

Who do the Saudis and similar types hate more, after all? Religious settlers who follow a traditionally respected monotheistic faith, or secular hedonistic residents of Tel Aviv? If Israel were more theocratic, even viciously so, the theocratic Arab world might just back off!