BY YIGAL WALT, YNET—
Arabs across the Middle East are increasingly endorsing Islam as the answer to all the region’s ills, expressing a longing for a glorious, bygone era. This is the case despite the fact that Islam’s heyday featured – at least to some extent – liberalism, openness and acceptance that are patently at odds with contemporary Islamist doctrines.
Still, after trying out various ideologies and models of government – including secularism, socialism, pan-Arabism and tyranny to name a few – the region’s citizens are now opting for the Islamist alternative en masse, in what is essentially a grand revolution of monumental implications for the Mideast and the world at large.
Indeed, the Islamist victory in Egypt’s presidential elections marks the culmination of a brilliantly executed Islamic revolution, achieved through great diligence and patience while exploiting the West’s vulnerabilities and utter incomprehension of reality.
In a world ruled by pompous words, lofty slogans and empty clichés, modern-day Islamists learned to speak and behave in a way that makes their cause more harmless and appealing than ever. Astute Islamic speakers in fancy suits discovered the great rewards inherent in uttering magic words such as “peace,” “dialogue” and “multiculturalism,” hitting all the right notes en route to numbing the Western consciousness.
Meanwhile, their behind-the-scenes comrades continued to brutally terrorize the “foes and infidels,” in essence creating a frighteningly effective dual-action mechanism: While murderous terror sowed fear in the hearts of the people, producing a “don’t mess with us” effect, calming words and reassuring messages convinced many that embracing Islamism will resolve this interfaith clash.
And so, when the misnamed “Arab Spring” erupted across the region, catapulted by popular anger and giving rise to talk of democracy and a victory for the “Facebook generation,” Islamists lay low while sharpening their proverbial (and not so proverbial) swords. Once the dirty work was done, the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood pushed forward with full force, turning the nascent “celebrations of democracy” into a vehicle for subjugating local populations to its ultra-religious vision.
Egypt and Tunisia are now ruled by Islamists, while Syria’s secular regime will sooner or later make way for what will likely be a Sunni-led government, with al-Qaeda already gaining a foothold in the country. In Lebanon, the fundamentalist Hezbollah is as dominant as ever, and even in Jordan we see signs of brewing Islamist unrest.
Yet as citizens of the Muslim world will be discovering, staunch Islam will prove to be a disastrous choice, driving the region into a catastrophic abyss it has yet to experience. The combination of zealous militancy, far-reaching intolerance, sweeping ignorance and general hostility for the non-Islamic world is a lethal mix that is sure to sink adherents of political Islam into a cesspool of failure and misery.
The Islamist victory in Egypt, and the changes that are yet to come, will likely usher in an era of military conflict, financial ruin, and social calamity on a grander scale than previously witnessed in our turbulent region. Even more tragically, the dreadful ramifications of this ill-advised adventure will be felt not only in the Middle East, but across the whole world.