Mideast revolt about freedom, not religion or poverty

Djemaa el Fna square by nightImage via Wikipedia
Amir Taheri:


What we see in the greater Mideast is a political upheaval, not an economic revolt. People are fed up with being treated as subjects of a pharaoh, sultan, emir, sheik or "supreme guide." They want a new relationship with their governments, based on respect for the citizen.

This isn't an Islamic revolt, as (according to The Washington Post) Obama advisers claim. Only Khadafy endorses that claim, when he says that the Libyan revolt is led by al Qaeda.

Anyone who listens to what people are saying from Marrakech to Muscat would know that, this time around, Islam is not an issue and religious groups play no part.

Muhammad Badi'e, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's "supreme guide," acknowledges as much. "This is not our revolution," he tells anyone who cares listen. "We just want to be part of it."

Indeed, the historic retreat of Islamist groups (caused as much by repression as popular rejection) is one thing that made this revolt possible. No longer afraid that bringing down a despotic secular regime might land them with an Islamist one, urban middle classes have taken the path of revolt.

This is not an anti-American revolt, either. If anything, the new Arab revolutionaries may want their countries to come closer to America -- not as client states but as equal partners.

Neither is Israel an issue. "We are trying to take control of our country," says Ali al-Hassan, a leader of the Omani revolt. "Once we have a people's government, we would think of other issues."

A Bahraini rebel leader is more direct. "Palestine?" she asks. "The whole thing bores me!"

The despots have been trying to find something the placate the people, but they one thing they refuse to give them is what they want most--freedom.
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