What a year it’s been for the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa! The brutal execution of Libyan tyrant Moammar Gadhafi last week is but the most recent historic moment in the year of the so-called Arab Spring.
What a year it’s been for the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa!
The brutal execution of Libyan tyrant Moammar Gadhafi last week is but the most recent historic moment in the year of the so-called Arab Spring.
Beginning in Tunisia on Dec. 18, 2010, waves of popular protests, uprisings and revolutions have shaken or toppled despotic regimes throughout the Muslim world as the peoples of lands from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean had grown weary of the tyranny, misrule and secularism that have characterized most of their governments since the start of the post-colonial era.
So far, North Africa has seen the most dramatic changes, with the overthrow of the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The Arab Spring brings with it the hope that the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa will be able to enjoy peace, justice and prosperity.
But it’s still a fragile hope, and we wait in apprehension to see if the Arab Spring will bring real and lasting improvements to that part of the world — or if it will fail of its promise like the hopeful Prague Spring of 1968.
We’ve recently been given good reasons to wonder if the Arab Spring will make things better or just bring on a different kind of bad.
For example, since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has seen significantly more violent attacks on the Coptic Christian minority at the hands of extremist Muslims.
Seeking to protect and perpetuate itself, the Egyptian government formerly repressed Islamist movements, which, ironically, indirectly helped protect Copts from Muslim violence. But now extremist Muslims have begun to take advantage of Egypt’s current unsettled if not quite anarchic state to attack the Christians.
Christians in Syria have also expressed misgivings about the Arab Spring uprising in their country. If the secularist dictator Bashar al-Assad falls, will he be replaced by an Islamist government that actively persecutes Christians or is indifferent to Muslim persecution of Christians?
Mideastern Christians worry about the fate of Assad’s regime because Syria has served as a haven for Iraqi Christian refugees who had to flee persecution at the hands of the Shiite majority following the U.S. toppling of the bloody tyrant Saddam Hussein.
As in Egypt, one of the ironies of Hussein’s dictatorship was that Christian minorities did not have to live in fear of Shiite violence. Since the removal of Hussein, Iraq has seen a mass exodus of Christians fleeing for their lives. If the tyrant Assad goes, Iraqi Christians may soon have to find another safe haven.
These troubling circumstances in Egypt, Iraq and Syria serve to illustrate the Law of Unintended Consequences, which, so I’ve been told, usually operates in two phases. Phase One is where we ask, “Who could it hurt?” Phase Two is where we protest, “But how were we supposed to know?”
We didn’t lead an invasion of Iraq so the Christian communities of Iraq could be all but annihilated — just as we didn’t help the Libyan rebels so the codes of Sharia law and polygamy could be reintroduced. Nevertheless, those are the consequences of our nation’s military interventions.
As it stands now, we can only hope that the despotisms of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria aren’t replaced by an Iranian-style Islamic “republic.”
It’s true social and religious reform that those nations need, not just an exchange of one kind of oppressive government for another kind of oppression.
Contact Jared Olar at firstname.lastname@example.org.