“I certainly don’t appreciate it when the price one has to pay for freely expressing his opinion in a so-called conservative Muslim society would simply be his life.”
Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
No, I don’t think I’m surprised, may be dismayed or worried but absolutely not surprised by the rise of hard-line Islamists in the wake of the falling dominos’ syndrome in the Arab countries, or what is better known as the Arab spring.
Revolution is a wonderful and intriguing word, what is wonderful about it, is the illusionary heralding of a new dawn with a whole set of principles by which all men everywhere can declare their own freedom. But that is something easier said than done.
It is one thing to dream about revolution but it’s a totally different situation to wake up one day to find yourself living through one.
Revolution is not about toppling the dictator and handing the power over to some gallant revolutionaries who believe in liberty, justice and common good, rather it is a transient phase of anarchy during which the culture and principles of a rising power will rule.
And in the case of the Arab Muslim countries, where the investment in human capitol-proper education, training and employment- has been almost non-existent the mob culture will most likely to rule in the aftermath.
Nothing happens overnight, what we are witnessing now of the rise of hard-line Islamists is the result of years and decades of rampant corruption that abolished the emergence of a second line of political cadres and leadership, crippled the development of a free civil society, hindered creativity and favored indoctrination over critical thinking and that stifled all sorts of dissent and in doing so allowed the teachings of the mosque to dominate and thrive.
Most Muslims- specially the fundamentalists- share the supremacist conviction that Islam is not just a religion but also a manifesto for a state and a way of life as it is the last and perfect message delivered to mankind from heaven. In other words, that simply means no one can possibly argue differently from the Quran Holy Scriptures or deviate from the teachings and instructions of the prophet Mohamed as compiled in his sacred legacy of quotes or what is known in Arabic as “Hadith”.
The mosque/state relation is one of Islam’s prominent features and chronic dilemmas at the same time. And while Christianity managed to separate the church from the state Islam still awaits its reform movement.
The scripture leaves not much room for innovation or multiplicity and while that could be appreciated in terms of the religious teachings it is glaringly incompatible with the modern man ever-changing worldly affairs.
I can understand the Islamic scripture stipulating that Muslims should pray five times per day (one of which is at dawn break) but I can’t understand it outlawing the right of free expression and I certainly don’t appreciate it when the price one has to pay for freely expressing his opinion in a so-called conservative Muslim society would simply be his life.
Tunisia police teargas protest at ‘blasphemous’ Film
AFP – Fri, Oct 14, 2011
Tunisian extremists fire-bombed the home of a TV station chief Friday, hours after militants protesting its broadcast of a film they say violated Islamic values clashed with police in the streets of Tunis.
About a hundred men, some of whom threw Molotov cocktails, lay siege to the home of Nessma private television chief Nabil Karoui late Friday, the station reported in its evening news bulletin.
Karoui’s family had only just escaped, the news presenter said as Nessma denounced the attack.
Sofiane Ben Hmida, one of Nessma’s star reporters, told AFP the station chief was not at home when the attack on his house took place around 7:00 pm (1800 GMT). But his wife and children were.
About 20 of the protesters were able to get inside.
“The family managed to get out the back and are safe. The attackers wrecked the house and set it on fire,” he added.
A neighbour, who had alerted police, said the aggressors arrived in taxis, armed with knives and Molotov cocktails.
According to a Nessma source “only a housemaid was present inside. She was attacked and hospitalised.”
Karoui himself said by telephone that he was shocked and devastated by the attack.
“I fear for my family. I am scared they (the attackers) will come back,” he said.
Interior ministry spokesman Hichem Meddeb said around a hundred people turned up outside the house, forced their way inside, broken the windows and torn out two gas pipes. Five people were arrested, he added.
Late Friday, 50 police officers were deployed at Karoui’s house, along with Nessma security staff.
This was the most serious incident yet in an escalating series of protests against the station’s broadcast of “Persepolis” on October 7.
The globally acclaimed animated film on Iran’s 1979 revolution offended many Muslims because it depicts an image of God as an old, bearded man. All depictions of God are forbidden by Islam.
“Persepolis” is a poignant coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution, a story that bears an obviously similar parallel to the undergoing revolutions ripping through the Arabic countries and a one that is definitely worth watching.
The film won the jury prize at Cannes film festival 2007 and was nominated for the academy award for the best animation feature in the following year but was denounced and deemed blasphemous on his first screening in an Arabic country during the aftermath of the Arab spring currently beening hijacked by hard-line Islamists.
The man who authorized its screening in Tunisia almost got killed by a mob of angry Islamists who never saw the film in the first place but acted promptly and savagely according to a fatwa as worshippers poured out of al-Fatah mosque in downtown Tunis in the Friday afternoon and began protesting after the imam preached against “Persepolis,” calling it a “serious attack on the religious beliefs of Muslims.”
Even if they had watched it, they would never have discerned the profound message conveyed in this beautiful film, for those who grew up with such dangerous indoctrination- a theme the film draws upon- and who are not able to differentiate the literal from the figurative language; this compelling animation would prove to be too intricate for their dogmatic minds to decipher.