Azzam Tamimi’s big ‘Arab Spring’ lie.

I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming a little weary of reading about the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ on CiF.

Theoretically, there should be a limit to the extent to which such an empty cliché can accumulate volume before it bursts, but that doesn’t look like happening anytime soon at Guardian HQ.

On May 2nd the well-known Hamas supporter and condoner of suicide bombing Azzam Tamimi proffered his air-brushed version of the myth of his commitment to budding democracy in the Middle East.

One has to wade past the sycophantic reference to the leader of a murderous terror organisation (“my old friend Khalid Mish’al”), the half-truths and distortions, and get right down to paragraph nine of Tamimi’s article to arrive at the nitty-gritty:

“Democracies representing the will of the Arab peoples can only be anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.”

Aha! So that’s what Tamimi and his Guardian enablers mean when they say ‘democracy’; everybody in the Middle East has to think like them, otherwise it won’t be democratic. And of course – as clearly implied in Tamimi’s oeuvre – only nasty dictators or PA sell-outs could ever possibly make peace with their neighbours.

Like many a Hamas apologist living in the West, Tamimi has studied the system well and is more than aware of the potent effects of the D-word on the gullible Left.  Dressing up jihad in pseudo-democratic garb doesn’t make terror any less wrong, but how often does one come across some bright spark on CiF insisting that ‘Hamas was democratically elected’ as though that makes firing Iranian rockets at a kindergarten morally acceptable?

The trouble is that people with ideologies such as those subscribed to by Tamimi and his ‘old friends’ in Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood cannot, by the very nature of their beliefs, be truly committed to democracy, which entails a lot more than just voting. They cannot see women, gay people or non-Muslim religious minorities within their own territory as being equal to them and deserving of the same rights, let alone the citizens of the neighbouring country. Neither are they remotely capable of separating Mosque from state. One only has to look at the severe deterioration of human rights in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover there four years ago to understand what kind of ‘democracy’ Tamimi has in mind.

Contrary to Azzam Tamimi, I’m not convinced that an Arab democracy – if we ever get to see it – has to be by definition anti-Israeli. The point is though that at the moment such a thing is still a long way from becoming reality. So far this ‘Arab Spring’ has shown only new shoots of the same old repressions, repackaged in different hues.

Opinion polls conducted in advance of the upcoming July elections in Tunisia show Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennhadha party leading the race on a platform of what is termed ‘Islamist democracy’ under which it proposes to combine Sharia law with a system it terms ‘democratic’. In the meantime, Tunisians continue to leave the country in their thousands.

In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood is predicted to win some 30% of the seats in the September 2011 election and of course what will transpire in the rest of the Arab world is still anyone’s guess. In Libya and Syria the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ could yet turn into a winter of discontent, but there too Islamist forces are undoubtedly playing their part in the uprisings, as can be seen in the very under-reported Libyan opposition street propaganda which has clear antisemitic and racist motifs and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s encouragement for continued protests.  

Maybe eventually we will see a true primavera of democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, but that will only happen when the religious fundamentalists are kicked into touch and people there begin to vote according to political opinion rather than tribal affiliation. Tamimi and others of his ilk are actually delaying that necessary process rather than advancing the cause of democracy and shamefully the Guardian – with its all-pervading racism of low expectations – is collaborating with that.  

In Tamimi’s warped mind, hope for the Palestinians equates only with annihilation of Israel. He is of the same ‘old school’ as Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh who lauded Osama bin Ladan as a ‘Arab holy warrior’ and the Northern Islamic Movement’s Raed Salah who, like Tamimi, also thinks that “the government changes in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries came from the will of the people must be channeled against Israel”.

Were the Guardian a true liberal voice for progressive democracy, it would not be providing a platform for those such as Tamimi who aim to sell out the people of the Arab world by exploiting the current upheaval to impose fundamentalist theocracies rather than nurturing the beginnings of true democracy in the region.   

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