HomeSelect Main CategoryThe Arab Spring may turn into a turbulent summer

The Arab Spring may turn into a turbulent summer

The Arab Spring is sweeping away some of West Asia???s most egregious dictators. But political trends in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere suggest that the vacuum might be filled by forces that draw inspiration from the ???Islam is the Solution??? slogan with which Egypt???s Muslim Brotherhood is wooing voters for next month???s parliamentary elections.

This was inevitable. Ismail Sallabi, a cleric and military commander in eastern Libya, is quoted saying, ???It is the people???s revolution, and all the people are Muslims, Islamists.??? Islamization is the other side of the democracy coin. Tunisia???s founding father, Habib Bourguiba, who called the hijab an ???odious rag???, was probably one of the few genuine secularists among the region???s absolute rulers. Others, Muammar Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein, were secular because they feared rival centres of power under clerics with pretensions of access to a higher court, as Reza Shah Pahlavi feared the ayatollahs.

The outcome of last Sunday???s constituent assembly election in Tunisia ??? the first since French rule ended in 1956 and the first, too, anywhere in the region since a vegetable seller???s protest self-immolation sparked the Arab Spring ??? is a straw in the wind. Tunisia has an educated population. Given Bourguiba???s legacy, a large number of Tunisians take a relaxed view of religion, drink alcohol, wear revealing clothes and rarely visit mosques. The liberal atmosphere is essential for Tunisia???s buoyant tourist industry. Western diplomats hope that being largely funded by businessmen, Rachid Ghannouchi???s Ennahda Party, which attracted the highest number of votes, will reject radicali



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