Revolution: Is Iran next?

February 13, 2011

Popular revolt has swept away dictators first in Tunisia and then in Egypt. Anti-government demonstrations have broken out in Algeria, as an anti-authoritarian, hopefully democratic wave sweeps North Africa and the Middle East.

Is Iran next? Green Movement leaders encouraged by the fall of Mubarak in Cairo have called for demonstrations Monday against the mullahs. Thousands are expected to turn out, in spite of government threats:

Activists in Iran will go ahead with a banned rally in central Tehran on Monday in defiance of warnings by the regime and a heavy security presence, a figure in the green movement has told the Guardian.

Ardeshir Amir-Arjomand, a spokesman for the former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, accused the government of hypocrisy in voicing support for protest in Egypt and Tunisia while refusing to allow a peaceful demonstration at home.

“Our dictators in Tehran are ruling the country with terror and panic,” he said. “They are afraid of their own people. They only sanction whatever pleases themselves, and disapprove of anything that is not under their surveillance. The call for renewed street protest in Iran is a clear sign that the green movement is still alive, and that’s why they’re afraid of it.”

The regime has every reason to be afraid. In the wake of stolen elections in 2009, thousands of Iranians turned out day after day to demand their freedom, often battling with the Basij, the militia the mullahs use as their own version of the SA, even at the risk of their own lives.

And they’re taking preemptive measures. Not only have they placed leaders under house arrest and warned people not to show up, but, to make sure the message gets across, they’ve stepped up the pace of the killings:

Since uprisings swept across the Middle East last month, Iran’s government has taken extraordinary measures to suppress dissent. It has executed one person every nine hours since Jan. 1, breaking the per- capita world record, human rights groups say. In January alone, Iran executed 87 people, the state media reported. That one-month tally is higher than the total annual executions in 2005, the year President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power.

Analysts say the judicial process has been hasty and at least three victims were political prisoners arrested during the 2009 anti-government protests.

“The executions are a political message to the population: ‘don’t even think about unrest, we are in control and this is your punishment,’ ” said Hadi Ghaemi, the director of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, an independent organization based in New York.

Emphasis added.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I suspect the Iranian people will show up in large numbers to tell the tyrants “Enough!” and to get the hell out. They’ve shown their bravery in the face of evil before, and I expect they will again. Each night for months now, the mullahs and President Gilligan Ahmadinejad have been reminded of their people’s hatred as thousands of cries of “Allahu Akbar” and “Marg bar Dictator”* rise from the rooftops, and the black robes can’t be sleeping easy.

Good luck to the brave people of Iran, and here’s hoping they make Ayatollah Khamenei’s nightmare come true, tomorrow.

*”God is Great” and “Death to the Dictator.”


A pessimistic view of Egypt

January 30, 2011

Barry Rubin looks at three likely outcomes for the turmoil in Egypt and fears the worst case is most likely:

Second, the elite loses its nerve and fragments, in part demoralized by a lack of Western — especially U.S. — support. The Muslim Brotherhood throws its full weight behind the rebellion. Soldiers refuse to fire at or join the opposition. Eventually, a radical regime emerges, with the Muslim Brotherhood as either ruler or power behind the throne. Remember that the “moderate democratic” leaders have been largely radical and willing to work with the Brotherhood. In that case, it is a fundamental transformation.

The new regime turns against the West, tears up the peace treaty with Israel (in practice if not formally), and joins hands with Hamas. Iranian influence isn’t important with this regime, but that will be small comfort as it launches its own subversive efforts and even goes to war against Israel at some point in the future. This will be the biggest disaster for the region and the West since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. And in some ways it will be worse.

I fear he’s right.


Egypt: “Things are never so bad they can’t get worse.”

January 29, 2011

Those are the wise words of Michael Ledeen’s Grandma Mashe and, in the case of Egypt, I think she’s right. While the situation there right now looks bad, the likely outcomes are even worse: harsh military rule or the ascension to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks a society based on strict sharia law and sees itself in a long-term jihad against the West. The prospects for replacing the current authoritarian regime with liberal democracy is, in my opinion, minimal in a land that has never known democracy in it 6,000-year history and where the current regime has done little, if anything, to allow democratic opposition to grow — and in the process left the people only with radical Islam as an outlet for protest.

Anyway, in reading online I’ve come across some articles to pass along, the first from the aforementioned Mr. Ledeen, who’s always worth following: Revolution? By Whom? For What?

And what about us?  We are supposed to be the revolutionaries, and we must support democratic revolution against tyranny.  But we must not support phony democrats, and for the president to say “Egypt’s destiny will be determined by the Egyptian people,” or “everyone wants to be free” is silly and dangerous.  Egypt’s destiny will be determined by a fight among Egyptian people, some of whom wish to be free and others who wish to install a tyranny worse than Mubarak’s.  That’s the opposite of freedom.  Think about the free elections in Gaza that brought the Hamas killers to power.  For that matter, think about Khomeini, viewed at the time as a progressive democrat by many of the leading intellectual and political lights of the West, from Foucault to Andrew Young.

We should have been pressuring the friendly tyrants in the Middle East to liberalize their polities lo these many years.  We should have done it in the shah’s Iran, and in Mubarak’s Egypt, and in Ben Ali’s Tunisia.  It is possible to move peacefully from dictatorship to democracy (think Taiwan.  Think Chile.  Think South Africa).  But we didn’t, in part because of the racist stereotype that goes under the label “the Arab street,” according to which the Arab masses are motivated above all by an unrelenting rage at Israel for its oppression of the beloved Palestinians.  That myth went along with another:  the belief that the culture of the Arab world (sometimes expanded to “the culture of the Muslim world”) was totally resistant to democracy.  The tumult has nothing to do with Palestine/Israel and even a blind bat can see hundreds of thousands of Arabs fighting for democracy, as have their fellow Muslims in Iran.

We shoulda, coulda done better all along.  But here we are.  It’s quite clear that Obama is totally bamboozled.

The United States has huge stakes in Egypt and the region, but I fear our ability to influence events is limited by our lack of knowledge and by, quite simply, the fact that revolutions, once ignited, are almost impossible to direct. The winners are not always the largest force, but usually the most organized and disciplined, such as the Bolsheviks in 1917.

And speaking of disciplined forces, former UN Ambasssador John Bolton sees the situation becoming more dangerous, as the Muslim Brotherhood has become openly involved and the military wonders about its own survival:

I think after the Friday prayers the Brotherhood brought its people out. That’s why the protests are even more extensive today. That constitutes no doubt about it a direct threat to the military government, and I think the failure of the other security forces to bring the demonstrations under control also now explains the presence of the military.

Let me be clear here, this is not just the Mubarak-family government. The military has ruled Egypt since Gamal Nasser and they overthrew King Farook.

It’s the military that is the real government and they are not going to go peacefully.

I think the question is whether and to what extent the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamists have infiltrated the leadership. If the military holds firm it’s entirely possible, although bloody, that the government can hold onto power. That doesn’t necessarily mean Mubarak will be in power, but the military will be, and I think that is why this contrast makes it so important for people to understand, this is not a choice between the Mubarak government on one hand, and sweetness and light, Jeffersonian democracy on the other.

I don’t think we have evidence yet that these demonstrations are necessarily about democracy. You know the old saying, “one person, one vote, one time.” The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t care about democracy, if they get into power you’re not going to have free and fair elections either.

He also brings up the parlous situation of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, who constitute roughly ten percent of the population and suffer regular persecution and pogroms. You can bet they’re terrified of the possibility of a Brotherhood-dominated government or a more nakedly military government that needs a convenient scapegoat to deflect the Islamists.

And the Brotherhood may be calling in markers, as its offshoot Hamas appears to be coming to its aid:

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.

(via Power Line)

Only a fool (Or a TV talking head) pretends to be able to predict with certainty what will happen in Egypt, but Andrew Bostom reminds us of a University of Maryland survey showing that a disturbingly large number of Egyptians want a sharia-ruled state:

In a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/  WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 1000 Egyptian Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007, 67% of those interviewed-more than 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority”-desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”). The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 74% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict (…) application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”

See also Michael Totten’s recent blog entry talking about other worrisome data points of Egyptian public opinion. Like Michael, I fear that Egyptians may just get what they wish, only to very much regret it later — like the Iranians in 1979.

LINKS: Obama adviser Bruce Riedel tells us we shouldn’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood;  Bruce Riedel is also a fool. At Big Peace, journalist Caroline Glick has a must-read article on Egypt and the Pragmatic Fantasy, while former Muslim Nonie Darwish calls Egypt’s situation a choice between bad and worse. At Threat Matrix, Thomas Joscelyn examines the longstanding ties between the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and the Shiite mullahs of  Iran.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


In Islam, a man beats his wife to honor her

September 25, 2010

Don’t look at me like that. I’m just repeating the words of the honored Egyptian cleric, Sa’d Arafat. Beatings were instituted by Allah to honor wives:

And I just love the look on the interviewer’s face, as if he’s hearing this marvelous revelation: “Oh, I get it! It’s okay for me to beat her if she denies me sex! It’s all so clear now!”

From the transcript:

Sa’d Arafat: Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.

Interviewer: Honored them with beatings? How is this possible?!

Sa’d Arafat: The prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t beat her in the face, and do not make her ugly.” See how she is honored. If the husband beats his wife, he must not beat her in the face. Even when he beats her, he must not curse her. This is incredible! He beats her in order to discipline her.

In addition, there must not be more than ten beatings, and he must not break her bones, injure her, break her teeth, or poke her in the eye. There is a beating etiquette. If he beats to discipline her, he must not raise his hand high. He must beat her from chest level. All these things honor the woman.

Understand, guys? There are rules to wife-beating. We must observe the proprieties. And just so we’re clear about the “when” part:

Sa’d Arafat: The honoring of the wife in Islam is also evident in the fact that the punishment of beating is permissible in one case only: when she refuses to sleep with him.

Interviewer: When she refuses to sleep with him?

Sa’d Arafat: Yes, because where else could the husband go? He wants her, but she refuses. He should begin with admonishment and threats…

Interviewer: Allow me to repeat this. A man cannot beat his wife…

Interviewer: …over food or drink. Beatings are permitted only in this case, which the husband cannot do without.

Note the logic here: a man must have sex, he cannot go without it. The woman, by refusing him, is denying her husband something he must have and is therefore in need of discipline – a beating. This illustrates something Ayaan Hirsi Ali has repeatedly pointed out in her books: that Islam makes the woman responsible for the sexual behavior of the man. He can’t control himself, so why is she hurting him by withholding something he needs? The same perverse reasoning is used to justify the whole structure of the oppression of women in Islam, from restrictive, dehumanizing dress codes to the punishment of rape victims.

Somehow, I think this is the kind of “honor” women would rather do without.

UPDATE: Thanks for the links, Lori!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Sa’d Arafat: Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.

Interviewer: Honored them with beatings? How is this possible?!

Sa’d Arafat: The prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t beat her in the face, and do not make her ugly.” See how she is honored. If the husband beats his wife, he must not beat her in the face. Even when he beats her, he must not curse her. This is incredible! He beats her in order to discipline her.

In addition, there must not be more than ten beatings, and he must not break her bones, injure her, break her teeth, or poke her in the eye. There is a beating etiquette. If he beats to discipline her, he must not raise his hand high. He must beat her from chest level. All these things honor the woman.

She is in need of discipline. How should the husband discipline her? Through admonishment. If she is not deterred, he should refuse to share the bed with her. If she is not repentant, he should beat her, but there are rules to the beating. It is forbidden to beat her in the face or make her ugly. When you beat her, you must not curse her. Islam forbids this.


Religion of Tolerance watch

November 1, 2009

Funny, I would have sworn I’d been assured that Islam was a religion of peace and tolerance:

Egyptian security forces have intensified their presence in the Upper Egyptian town of Dairout, in anticipation of a recurrence of Muslim violence against Christians. Copts expressed their fear over leaflets entitled “These have to Die!” which are being distributed to all Muslims in Dairout and neighborhoods, enticing them to “burn, vandalize and clean the country of these evil immoral infidels.”

Reports from Dairout, 313 km south of Cairo, confirm that Christian Copts are afraid to leave their homes and have stayed indoors since violence against them erupted on October 24, 2009. This collective punishment of Copts was caused by an illicit sexual relationship between a Muslim girl, Hagger Hassouna, and the Christian Romany Farouk Attallah. It was rumored that he sent videos of them intimately together to cell phones in Dairout before fleeing. This prompted the Hassouna family to kill his father, Farouk Attallah, on October 19, 2009, in revenge. Four of the Hassouna killers were detained by prosecution, leading to Muslim riots against the Copts (AINA 10-27-2009) .

According to Wagih Yacoub of the Middle East Christian Assosiation (MECA), Muslim-owned businesses are now displaying stickers with ‘Allah Akbar’ (Allah is Great) to differentiate between them and Coptic-owned businesses, as a form of pre-planning for a forthcoming wave of Muslim violence.

Handwritten leaflets (Arabic) have been circulated among Muslims in Dairout for the last two days; they call on Muslims to unite to take revenge for their religion and honor, claiming that Hagger Hassouna is innocent and that she was forced into vice, and “all Jews and Christians should come to learn that Muslim honor is precious.” The fliers state that Muslims are the masters of the world since beginning of times until the present day, and entices them to “burn and vandalize and clean the country of the evil immoral infidels.”

Granted, if the rumors about Attallah are true, then he’s a swine. (And I hate to think what the poor girl’s family did to her, given Islam’s notorious treatment of women.) But is it a justification for punishment of an entire community? Maybe that’s easy to accept, when your religion tells you that Believers are supreme and all others are to be submissive, humble and humiliated.

(hat tip: Jihad Watch)


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