Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's happening in Tunisia and Egypt?

Thousands turned out today to welcome Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi after more than 20 years in exile, as he eyed a political future for his Ennahda movement after the fall of Tunisia's regime.

"God is great!" Ghannouchi cried out, raising his arms in triumph as he walked into the arrivals hall of Tunis airport, with thousands of cheering supporters crowding around him before driving off to visit his family.
The crowd intoned a religious song in honour of the Prophet Mohammed, as supporters held up olive branches, flowers and copies of the Koran.
"I am so happy to be bringing him back home. I never thought I would see my brother again alive in Tunisia," his sister, Jamila, told AFP.
There were also dozens of people protesting his arrival at the airport, holding up placards that warned against Islamic fundamentalism. But they are in the minority!

The 69-year-old said he was elated as he checked in for his historic flight at London's Gatwick airport, where he posed with a Tunisian flag and embraced relatives before boarding for a country that he has not seen since 1989.
"When I return home today I am returning to the Arab world as a whole," he told reporters, adding that Ennahda (Awakening) now planned to register as a political party and take part in the country's first democratic elections.
The interim government installed in the north African state after the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 has granted unprecedented freedoms and allowed key exiles to return despite bans from the old regime.
Ghannouchi, a former radical preacher who says he now espouses moderate ideals similar to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was persecuted in Tunisia ever since founding his Islamist movement in 1981.
He still officially has a life sentence hanging over his head for plotting against the president, although the new government has drawn up an amnesty law for convicted activists like Ghannouchi that now has to go before parliament.
"There is still confusion regarding the political situation.... The interim government is changing its ministers every day, it's not stable yet and its powers are not clear yet," Ghannouchi told reporters before leaving on today.
In contrast to his preachings from the 1970s in which he condemned the rise of secular ideas in his homeland and the advances in women's rights, Ghannouchi also said that Sharia Islamic law now had "no place in Tunisia". But that's exactly what Khomeiny said on a question of a French journalist in 1979 just before heading to Tehran, what kind of republic Iran will be in one year: 'exactly the same kind of republic as France!

Therefore, people tell different things such as Najwa, a teacher who said she was imprisoned for wearing an Islamic veil, said: "Everything that's said about him are lies... He's a moderate Islamist."
Mohammed Mahfoud, 37, a trade unionist, said: "I have come to pay homage."
But the views on the streets of Tunis were far more critical of Ghannouchi.
"He has not said what he plans to do. He could cause trouble and destabilise the upcoming elections," said Amenallah Darwish, a 29-year-old lawyer.
Naima, who wore a veil, said: "Many people were imprisoned because of him, young people lost their future. No-one is happy about his return. He lived the good life in London while others paid a heavy price."
Some feminist groups are worried that Ghannouchi's return may signal a rise in political Islam that could endanger their hard-won rights.
Hundreds of women rallied in the centre of Tunis on the eve of Ghannouchi's arrival, saying they would defend their rigths against conservatives.
Asked about some of this concern on today, Ghannouchi was dismissive.
"This fear is only based on ignorance," he said, because Ben Ali's regime had "worked to distort all its opponents, described them as terrorists or being against modernity. All of these allegations have no basis in reality."
Ghannouchi fled Tunisia two years after Ben Ali came to power in a bloodless coup in 1987. In elections in 1989, which were heavily falsified, an Islamist-backed coalition still managed to win 17 percent of the vote.
Shortly after that, persecution of leading Islamists began and Ghannouchi went first to Algeria and then to Britain in 1991. Hundreds of Islamist activists who stayed behind were thrown into prison, often on flimsy charges.
İnteresting is to see what's happening today in Egypt. Last night some 34 key members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood escaped from prison and today the Muslim Brotherhood there asked the independent Mohamed El Baradei to 'negotiate' with Mubarak on their behalf. Mohamed El Baradei is seen as close to Iran and can be the 'usefully idiot' for the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power and dictate Egypt. What will happen with the Suez canal and what will happen with Gaza. Will the later be armed by an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood? And what will happen with Israel when all surrounding countries are ruled by religious fanatics? Isllamo-facists?

The Iranian uprising had many of the hallmarks of today's Egypt. The Shah of Iran was the corrupt despot. He had lined his pockets, was ruthless against political opposition, and was perceived by his subjects to be a puppet for the West.
When the young took to the streets 32 years ago they thought they were signing up for a new era where they would be able to determine their own future.
But those idealists were superseded by another group: the clerics. Just as the shah had kept the clerics in check, it is Hosni Mubarak today who keeps the Muslim Brotherhood – the radical side of the Muslim faith – under control. Within months the Iranian revolution unleashed the Islamic Republic.
Faith is never a bad thing and it has a simple appeal. Ordinary people who are tired of poverty and the opulent lifestyles of the old guard can be easily swayed by the wholesome values of religion.
It is a miserable fate in the Muslim world that the choice has to be between self-enriching despots and controlling clerics who covet power over every aspect of life

The unbearable randomness of being

The unbearable randomness of being

Day Opening - January 30

summer composition...