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Ordered Liberty

Ah, “Moderate” Tunisia, Birthplace of the “Arab Spring”

February 19th, 2013 - 10:11 am

At Frontpage, Ray Ibrahim alerts us to the murder of Chokri Belaid, a leading member of the secular opposition to what the BBC takes pains to call the “moderate Islamist-led government” of Tunisia. As you’d expect, Ennahda,the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party, flatly denies any involvement in the assassination, in which one of their most influential detractors was gunned down on his way to work. But neither the Brothers nor the BBC sees fit to mention that, in the days before Belaid was killed, prominent sharia jurists publicly proclaimed fatwas calling for his murder.

As Ray elaborates, the same pattern is manifest in Egypt, where influential sharia jurists, so instrumental to the election of a Brotherhood government and the imposition of a sharia constitution, are now calling for the killing of politicians who oppose the ruling Islamists.

As the suppression of speech and political activity gradually suffocates the Middle East under Brotherhood rule, I am betting that the Islamist rulers will be absolved. That is not just because they control the prosecutorial authorities. It is because of the phenomenon I describe in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy (my e-Book which is just now being published in paperback). While the West obsesses over law and politics, Islamists seek to dominate the culture. It is culture that pulls politics and law along, not the other way around.

When Islamists take over a government as the popular choice of the people, and especially if they manage to have sharia enshrined in their new constitution, this reflects a societal desire to make sharia the norm. Once that happens, it does not really matter what the civil laws on the books say. Those laws may appear to protect life and limb for everyone, but that is just for Western consumption. In reality, the Islamist government effectively signals to its like-minded Islamic supremacist supporters in the society that the state will turn a blind eye to their private and at times brutal enforcement of sharia standards. The Islamic supremacists take it from there. No need for the politicians to do the dirty work; the Islamists in the mosques and the streets take care of that. The culture, unleashed, takes care of that.

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