Down with the new order! Is this the Arab verdict on the Islamic Spring?

Published August 28th, 2012 - 14:23 GMT

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Libyan mosques get the bulldozer treatment by Salafis
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Image 1 of 6: Libya: It was all going so well as elections ended on a post-Gaddafi-high of optimism for the liberal future. But then the Salafis started bulldozing moderate Sufi mosques. Facebook extremist groups popped up to congratulate the Salafis but most Libyan were unimpressed and the interior minister was forced to resign.

Lebanon's Syrian kidnappings remind us of civil war era
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Image 1 of 6: Lebanon: They haven't had an Arab Spring in the same way as their neighbors but the Lebanese have always been a pretty liberal lot. So when extremists started kidnapping FSA soldiers earlier this month, the old wounds of Sunni/Shia divides were resurrected. 'Not again!' ordinary Levantines shouted on the internet and anywhere they could.

24 August Friday Egypt protest in backlash against Morsi's MB
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Image 1 of 6: Egypt: The heart of the Arab revolutionary movement got their democratic win but left Egyptian liberals seriously unhappy. Morsi is no friend of the left wing, despite preaching religious tolerance. They've been out in force on the streets of the capital and planning their takeover at the next elections under El Baradei.

Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi co-founder of Islamist Ennahda
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Image 1 of 6: Tunisia: They laid the rebellious egg that Egypt hatched but it was no victory for liberal religion or politics. While the Islamists are in power, Salafis are empowered into burning down booze shops and halting Iranian concerts at the more moderate Sufi Muslim festivals. Ennahda are clamping down on free media in a climate reminiscent of Ben Ali.

Abdelilah Benkirane Morocco's new prime minister
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Image 1 of 6: Morocco's nod to the Arab Spring led to the country's first Islamist PM heading the Arab world's oldest monarchy. While Benkirane espouses liberal politics, he sees secularism as "dangerous" for Morocco, and expressed fears that an Elton John concert would promote homosexuality. In 2012, activists campaigned against the veiling of young girls.

Syria's Islamist revolutionaries join the fight against Assad
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Image 1 of 6: Syria: With the escalation of massacres which the 'tyrannical' Assad regime is perpetrating against Muslim civilians and revolutionaries, Syria, much like Afghanistan, has turned into an open ring for Jihadists. Many ordinary people are not wanting their land to be hijacked by extreme Islamism.

The Middle East has been baying for new blood and change for the past couple of years now, and some of their calls have seemingly been answered. Heads have rolled, governments have changed, and stubborn rulers have slunk away or been unceremoniously made redundent.

But as we look around the region, unrest is still the order of play. Those who wanted new power in place do not seem happy with the replacements. There is a niggling feeling of déjà vu for many of the citizens who campaigned against old regimes, accompanied by the uncomfortable suspicion that they might have been fobbed off by a new face to the same old system. The objectives of the original protest remain un-met and as the citizens and newly elect governments muddle along, they're not quite sure what they've ended up with.  Whether 'democracy' or 'progress,' concerned citizens have a horrible feeling their countries are not on the right track.

One of the biggest complaints during the 2011 year of protesting was a resounding objection to corruption, nepotism and repression. What we're seeing in some of the post-revolution, or still revolutionizing states, particularly in Egypt and Tunisia, is more of the same, but in an Islamist garb. With Egyptian people still unhappy with living conditions and Tunisians blocked from freedom of expression in press and protest, the Arab answers so far might be paying lip service to reform and revolution. 

Just last week, Tunisian Salafis attacked a pro-Palestinian march whose members they suspected of being Shia or even Iranian. And, the country looks set to pass an anti-blasphemy law, which for many flies in the face of social progress. 

At the same time, Egyptian protesters held a rally to demand the ouster and dissolution of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. In the tradition of Mubarak-ousting protests, they called the occasion “Down-with-the-Brothers Friday." 

According to reports, clashes resulted in one injury, nine sun strokes, four cases of neck injuries, a case of food poisoning, and two bullet cartridge injuries.

Compared to what we’re seeing in Syria, these scrapes and grazes sound positively minor. Yet this isn't quite the free and peaceful post Mubarak age the Egyptian people had hoped for.

As the Arab Spring's rallying cry for change seems to have been answered with Islamist power-takers, we look at how the Arab world has responded, particularly over the last couple of weeks. Was the opportunistic invasion of Islamist governments what the Arab people wanted? Arabs seem to be fighting back with a resurgence of protests, and what can be described as an Islamist backlash. The people are generally unhappy with the free-for-all chaos of unbridled Salafi mayhem and destruction that has arisen in the power vacuum left by non-Islamic dictators.

 

Do you think that there is a real Islamist backlash gaining ground in the Middle East post Arab Spring?

 

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