Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald examines how enlightenment has always come to Islamic nations:
If democracy is on the march in a Muslim country, there will always be more primitives in the population than the enlightened. If the Bush Administration, or others waiting in the wings, would carefully analyze where any moral progress has been made in the Muslim world, it has always been not from below, but from above, from enlightened or quasi-enlightened despots. Ataturk systematically limited the role of Islam and tried as much as he could to diminish its social and political influence. If Kemalism is coming undone, slowly, it is not because of pressure from the top, or from the beneficiaries of Kemalism, the Turkish middle and upper classes, but from below. In Iran, whatever progress was made came from the two-man short-lived Pahlevi dynasty. The Shah, that corrupt and vain and not terribly intelligent man, predicting that Iran would become the “second industrial power of Asia” (after Japan), who was allowed to let that OPEC money go to his head, seems in retrospect to have been a lovable fellow, deserving of all our support (for compare him to what came after).
His court and courtiers were similarly lovable. Teheran still had a French lycee, and the Goethe Institute. Then there was the mayor’s daughter who could grow up to teach “The Real Life of Sebastian Knight” — or was that someone else? — and even reappear in the United States, as the most unrepresentative representative of Iran it is possible to be, with those Tabatabais as air-force generals, who now have the glow of old Czarist generals, and Hoveyda, and all the others — corrupt, but not unduly so. Corrupt, but how good they seem in the Iranian context compared to what followed. They seem like the greatest statesmen who ever lived.
Remember also what happened to those who first threw in their lot with Khomeini, because they misunderstood both him and their own country and the power of those primitives, and thus the power of the main animating source of those primitives — Islam itself, and what it inculcates. Think of what happened to that former member of the French Resistance, Shahpour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister under the Shah. Think of Mehdi Bazargan, and think of all those others who had never been enthusiasts of the Shah, had been in the Mossadegh line, and yet were murdered not only under Khomeini, but under Khatemi, with impunity, in broad daylight, in the full light of history.
Here’s just a bit to remind you:
Dariush Foruhar, the 70 years old veteran Iranian politician and a leading opponent of the ruling Islamic Republic was stabbed to death Sunday alongside his 54 years old wife, Parvaneh, also an outspoken critic of the regime, according to official, family and friends sources.
Leader of the Iran People’s Party (IPP), one of the country’s oldest political organisation fighting for a Western type parliamentarian republic, both husband and wife were executed in Islamic tradition, with Mr Foruhar’s head and one of Mrs Parvaneh’s breasts cut off. Both had been stabbed several times with a long knife by unidentified but professional killers.
An opponent of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Mr. Foruhar was jailed several times under the former regime. After the revolution, he briefly took charge of the Labour Ministry in the first government of the Islamic Republic led by the late Mehdi Bazargan, but resigned in protest against the new constitution based on Islamic Sari’a, or Canons by calling for a secular republic. Outlawed by the ruling ayatollahs, his party was nevertheless tolerated. Despite several threats to their lives and attacks of the meetings of the party by Islamic thugs operated by the Information Ministry they were among the very few adversaries of the Islamic Republic who refused to leave the country.
The savage double murder that took place in broad daylight at the couple’s residence in the Iranian capital Tehran bore the landmark of execution of political dissidents by the regime’s agents, including that of Dr Shahpour Bakhtiar, the Shah’s last Prime Minister who was murdered in his Parisian residence in August 1992 by 4 agents of the Islamic Republic’s Information (Intelligence) Ministry employing almost exactly the same method, his head and hands cut off.
Both Mr. Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh were outspoken critics of the Islamic regime they would describe as anti-Iranian. In declarations and interviews with foreign-based Iranian media, they denounced publicly and from Iran itself devastation the ruling ayatollahs have caused to the economy of the nation, the violations of the basic rights of the Iranians, particularly the women, the ostracism of Iran in the world, the shame they have caused to the Iranians because of terrorist activities of the state or the support given by the ruling hard liners to terrorist organisation.
The barbaric assassination of the dissident couple, a first that takes place under the government of the of the ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, the so-called Iranian reformist president is the most sever blow to both his personal prestige and political programmes he promised during his electoral campaign 17 months ago, including the restoration of the rule of law, limited political freedoms and the implementation of a civil society.
So that was Iran, where it was the Shah and his court, as in Turkey it was Ataturk and his collaborators, who made the place semi-decent precisely by limiting the power of Islam.
And the same could be said for those two protectors of the local Jews, Mohammad V of Morocco (himself less vulnerable to Islamic charges because of his own descent) and Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia. The latter, of course, also limited the power of Islam. His successor, running what necessarily has to be an authoritarian regime, has continued in the Destour Party line.
It is not “democracy” that will undo Islam. It is the enlightened or semi-enlightened ruler, and if not a single ruler, then it will be up to the quasi-secular or secular beneficiaries of some enlightened despot’s rule.
Which brings us back to Egypt. Does Mubarak qualify as one more “enlightened despot” because he is opposed by, and opposes, the Muslim Brotherhood? No Mubarak is simply a thuggish and corrupt man who has no desire whatsoever, and has shown it, to make a real peace with the Infidel state of Israel, has done nothing to encourage any fulfillment of the solemn commitments made by Egypt in order to repossess the Sinai (most of which became “Egyptian” only in 1922), and has done the absolute minimum to protect the Copts, or to end the campaign against them in the Egyptian press, radio, and television. No, he is not an “enlightened despot.” He and his Mena-Island jockey-club crew deserve no aid, no further jizyah, from any Infidel power. It is grotesque that the Americans cannot see that a country as poor as Egypt, which in the most recently published list of buyers of foreign arms stood third, after India and China, is not an “ally” (as the press routinely calls it — “America’s ally”), but is part of the problem. A big part of the problem.
Let the Egyptians go hat in hand to the rich Arabs for all further funds. It will use up Arab money that might otherwise go to pay for mosques in the Western world, and madrasas, and propaganda, and for the army of apologists in every walk of American and Western life. Let the rich Arabs turn them down, or not. Let the Egyptians mutter, and rage, over those same rich Arabs. Let them begin to feel, as Nasser did when he went to war to support the so-called “Marxists” in south Yemen against the Saudi-supported “Royalists” (as they were called), that the rich Arabs should begin to shell out to their fellow Muslims far more than they have — really shell out.
And that will cause all kinds of things to happen, things which from the standpoint of the Infidels, will be good. The shelling out, or the other kind of shells if the shelling out does not take place. All to the good — not of the Muslim world, but of the Infidel one. Which should be the one we care about.