By Cawo M. Abdi *
March 17, 2011
This corpse-like condition continued to the colonial era and post-independence with the reign of Western-bolstered ruthless dictatorships. Change did happen with the fall of communism in 1989, coinciding with the 1993 Gulf war and American military involvement that continues to this day. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, also officially ushered a new era of the war on terror and growing chasm between Islam and West. Communism was replaced by Islam and Muslims as the No. 1 enemy of Western civilization.
Western political leaders placed oil and other strategic interests in the Middle East as the decisive factor that shaped their approach to this region, and rarely acknowledged the moral dilemmas of doing business with ruthless dictators. Democracy was depicted as an ideal for Israel and the West; Arab leaders who accepted Western nations’ political and economic agenda were exempted from the expectations that they rule their constituency with justice, that they redistribute these nations’ wealth equitably, and that they listen to their citizens’ concerns.The current state of affairs and the ongoing protests in the Arab world show that this hypocrisy is no longer tenable. The days when Arab dictators manipulated the war on terror to bolster their own autocratic positions and to exploit Western fears of the Muslim terrorist are now numbered. The overnight ouster of Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak testifies to an emerging awakening in the Arab and Muslim world.
Once certain leaders now face uncertainty
While such victories might not be realized in all Arab nations, as we are witnessing in Libya and Yemen, leaders who previously took it for granted that they will stay in power for life including those in the Gulf now confront uncertainly, and know they could be the next Mubarak.
Similarly, Western nations’ hypocritical approach toward this region, which were anchored in patronizing and Islamaphobic attitudes that identified Islam and democracy as inherently incompatible, no longer suit the evolving political map in the Islamic world.
Knee-jerking policies that support any dictator that talks the talk of fighting “Islamic terrorism” – including dictators terrorizing their own populace, such as Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia – only produce situations similar to that in Somalia. Prior to this country’s Ethiopian (and American) intervention in 2006-2007, Islamism was rarely heard term in Somalia’s political discussions, while this force now renders peace ephemeral and death and destruction the norm.
An emerging subjecthood
The awakening in the Islamic world should be called the ‘Kifaya Revolution,’ as it really represents the emerging subjecthood of Muslims and Arabs who finally reject remaining the objects of the combined brutality of their tyrannical leaders as well as Western hypocrisy that supports human rights and dignity for some, but denies it to others.
In Arabic, Kifaya means “enough!” Enough of enough! Enough of humiliation! Enough of waiting for change to come from outside! Enough of brutal corrupt leadership! Enough of Western hypocrisy!
** The article was originally published in MinnPost.com and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.