A Democratic Revolution in the Muslim World?

Propagators of the U.S. lies for invading Iraq have come to claim that the time since the Iraqi elections on January 30, 2005 has been the most dramatic moment the Middle East has known in 30 years and more. They call it a magical transformation.

Other sham elections in occupied Afghanistan and Palestine are presented to have inspired one of those magical transformations in consciousness like those that happened in 1776 or 1848 or 1989. The promoters of war, whose justification of destroying Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq has been quickly switched to installing democracy, could hardly wait to understand that history carries no guarantees.

Weaknesses in the democratic and liberating spirit of the American Revolution of 1776 took more than 200 years to turn the United States into the most tyrannical regime in human history. Elsewhere it might not take even this long to reveal the intrinsic weaknesses of the governing system being imposed on others. Remember, the French Revolution? It did not take much longer to sour into the guillotine, the terror and the military dictatorship of Napoleon.

The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 is also presented as one of the greatest and most inspiring moments of the cruel 20th century. That was, in fact, the result of internal resistance and a system that collapsed from within. It was not the result of a revolution imposed from outside. The wall came down as a bye product of the total failure of a system based on human rationality alone. It is utter nonsense to compare that with the sham elections imposed on the occupied world in order to give the impression as if a Muslim revolution for democracy is in the making.

It is no more than a joke to compare conditions and feelings of Muslim masses under occupation to the 1848 Europe and call it the “spirit of national and political liberation.” Situation in Europe in 1848 was completely different. The so-called revolutions fell apart in quarrels between the cities and the peasantry, between the emergent new working class and the bourgeoisie–”and between ethnic groups.

If there is any similarity that is what happened after 1848 in Europe. The old regimes rallied, recovered their nerve and by 1849, the armies of Russia, Prussia and the Habsburg Empire had crushed the hopes of the previous year. The United States is protecting regimes like the House of Saud, Hosnie Mubarak, Islam Karimov, Musharraf and hope the tyrants could crush the current anti-tyranny mood in the Muslim world, at least until the United States come up with alternative tyrants like Hamid Karzai in occupied Afghanistan and Iyad Allawi in occupied Iraq.

Unlike the revolutions of 1848 which could never quite decide whether they were about liberalism or nationalism, the current turmoil in the Muslim world is really about at least four separate phenomena.

The first phenomenon, to be sure, is the fluttering hope of Muslims’ exercising their right to self-determination in an age in which the big powers have resolved to deny them this opportunity. At long last, there is the prospect of throwing down the externally imposed regimes and systems. The movement against colonialism in the last century was local and country specific. Now the desire is for real liberation Muslim-world-wide.

The United States and its allies are caught between the much-vaunted democracy on the one hand and the exposed hypocrisy of allowing only those to be part of elections and power who suite their interest on the other. The objective is clear to everyone in the Muslim world: the United States and its allies want to install new strongmen for serving their interest, but this time under the label of democracy.

This dilemma has made Muslims realize the true nature of their being constantly under the attack and perpetual colonialism. Elections are meaningless as long as they are held under the auspices and rules of the occupiers. A government serving interest of the United States, replaced by voters with another one that also serves the United States is not democracy at all. This form of governance is hardly different from the regimes where faces do not change without death of a ruler or a military coup.

The second associated phenomenon is of the Islamic movements which most of the Islamophobes try to associate with poverty and Islamic welfare systems. They even try to make people believe that Hamas and Hizbollah, for example, are the result of poverty, not oppression, occupation and failed state systems.

Whatever the earlier situation was, Islamic movements have now become popular across the Muslim world solely because Muslims are now witnessing a steady collapse of democracy and capitalism on the pattern of socialism and communism in their lifetime.

The more defenders of an ideology realize that they do not have logic on their side to defend it, the more they resort to violence. A mixture of their totalitarian zeal and associated disregard of human norms of decency lead them to engage in wholesale fascism. Every action and word on their part lead to mainstreaming fascism in the society at large. The mainstream media becomes an active partners in the crimes of the totalitarians and masses become helpless before the ever increasing police state actions. The state of affairs in the United States today has reached a stage where the so-called mainstream media cannot fool the victims of democracy any longer and the tyrants cannot isolate people from the rest of the world. These factors directly lead to the religious awakening and importance of living by Islam in the Muslim world.

Most of the European and American analysts have now admitted to a war against Islam. It matters little if some Americans call for a break in the cycle of hatred against Muslims and Islam, like James Carrol of Boston Globe (June 07, 2005) or if others like Thomas Friedman and Sam Harris call for defeating Muslim in the heart of the world of Islam. The bottom line for Muslims is the same: The war on Islam is on and they need to put their acts together to ensure an end to the seemingly never-ending colonial fascism.

The third is the so visible signs of underdevelopment in the Muslim world in all fields of life as a direct result of the United States and its allies using the Middle East as merely a gas station. And to keep these countries as such, the United States had to support the tyrants in the position of authority so that no one could challenge the unjust economic order within these states and abusive exploitation of the natural resources by the protectors of these regimes from out side.

The outside intervention in the internal affairs of Muslim states is directly proportional to bankruptcy of state systems in Muslim countries. Japan and Germany were raised to the ground, yet the pattern of relationship with these countries was very different from the way Muslim countries have been treated since the strategic withdrawal of the colonialists.

Supporting tyrannies at the top have left Muslims’ social, political and economic lives shattered. Muslims have been watching the Japanese, then the Taiwanese and South Korean and now the Chinese and the Indian people becoming technologically advanced, industrially powerful–”and ever more prosperous without as much huge reservoirs of natural resources as most of the Muslim countries have.

It is abundantly clear to everyone that the socio-economic system of the Muslim world has simply failed because of the continued colonial fascism–”not because Islam is implemented in its true sense in any of the existing Muslim countries.

The fourth crucial theme of the current wave of yearning among Islamophobes is to widen the gulf between the already divided Muslims. One of the major un-Islamic divisions is the Shi’ia and Sunni Islam, for which there is no place in Islam. Nowhere the Qur’an or the Hadiths mentions that Muslim have to be either Shi’ia or Sunni.

Initially the United States used Saddam Hussein against Iran. Now it is being propagated that the Ayatollahs of Iran are determined not to have anything to do with the new wave of democracy-related hope in the Middle East; except to take advantage of the new Shi’ia dominance of Iraq and of the Shi’ias’ demographic clout in Lebanon.

Iran’s Ayatollahs are blamed for stopping “the Arab spring” dead in its tracks. The pro-Israel analysts in the United States argue that Iran can probably unleash upon Israel a new assault by suicide bombers that could derail any prospect of a settlement with the Palestinians.

And yet, the credentials of the crusaders for “democracy” are pitifully few. They have failed to live up to the standards of real democracy. Meanwhile, they have squandered enormous wealth on home front on a deterrent that seems useless. They are still willing to take lives of millions to satisfy their obsession with security and dominance. Police states are being consummated in the name of security, leaving themselves with hardly anything that shows, they have something decent as a model for others to follow.

But like the old Russian, Prussian and Hapsburg empires of 1848, the twenty-first century warlords certainly have the ruthlessness, and a final opportunity to decide if they would let Muslims exercise their right to self-determination at this historical turning point in a peaceful way, or they would prefer to keep sowing the seeds of hatred and destruction until they make life miserable beyond imagination for everyone at home and abroad.

As a result, the world is in a state of total chaos. Democracy is nowhere in sight. The tide of false democratization is fast ebbing not only in the Muslim but also non-Muslim world. In the Philippines President Arroyo has declared a state of emergency following an alleged military coup. Most observers believe the coup attempt to be a fiction, suggesting that Arroyo has taken advantage of unrest in order to replace Major-General Renato Miranda as chief of the marines. The president of the Philippines, who used corruption in the army as a tool to secure her grip over the country, is now moving to make an accommodation with the army in order to remain in power. The Manila crisis underscores the extent to which the democratic experience in the Philippines failed to separate the military from politics and to offset the demagogic powers of the church and big business, the two forces that triggered the popular unrest that led to the overthrow of the countries two previous presidents.

This, then, is the Philippines that Bush has so frequently lauded as a model of democracy. That Nigeria, Uganda and other countries have won similar praise only makes one wonder what Bush means by democracy. Nigeria, apparently, is democratic because it has a government that came to power through elections. But Nigeria is riddled with sectarian strife that subsides for days then flares up for months. It has a separatist movement pushing for independence for the oil-rich Niger Delta. It could well be the most corrupt and crime-ridden country in Africa. Uganda, too, recently held elections, though they were hardly free and fair. They took place against a nightmarish backdrop in which the insurgent Rabb Army reigns by night while the government reasserts itself by day.

In Thailand, that new bastion of democracy and free-market economy, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the prime minister’s abuse of constitutional powers and his encouragement of corruption, especially the nepotism of which his own family is the primary beneficiary. Nor is Thailand alone in confusing the worship of money and the sanctity of the free market over true democratization and constitutional reform.

Elections were held in Haiti in 2006. Once the results were announced the bloodshed resumed, to the extent that the United States was forced to intervene to halt the chaos. Washington brought in legal experts who reread Haiti’s electoral laws in such a way as allow Rene Perval to claim victory. Everyone–”the Americans included–”know that Haiti under Perval was a haven for drug smuggling and organized crime, in which government officials and the police are involved up to their necks. But what was important in that corrupt and poverty-stricken nation was that it emerged from the elections unchanged–”i.e. dependent upon the United States and the United Nations for its security, for which read the safety of its ruling elite and of foreign interests. Yet Bush administration officials appeared on cue to announce Haiti was experiencing an unprecedented period of “democratic stability”.

The Congo has a democratically elected government. Apparently, it does not count that two-thirds of the country is under the control of rebel forces and that foreign companies and fortune hunters are sapping the wealth of a country that must count as the most plundered in history.

In Kosovo elections brought a new government to power. Not that it does that much. NATO forces still run the country. Washington, though, could not be happier about democracy in Kosovo, which is still deprived of its right to be recognized as a fully independent sovereign state.

King Gyanendra of Nepal has just held fraudulent municipal elections. He then called a halt to democratization on the grounds that elections would bring terrorists and extremists to power. Washington says nothing against government corruption in Nepal, agreeing, instead, with New Delhi, its up and coming southern Asia ally, that Nepal is India’s concern. New Delhi takes a similar position towards Burma. India has learned a great deal from watching the United States protect dictatorial regimes while somehow keeping its democratic reputation intact. It has seen the United States at work in occupied Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East in general, and learned much.

In Kabul, a balloting process was held that the world had never seen before. It brought to power an equally unique legislature. Afghanistan outside of Kabul is another story. It exists beyond electoral processes, party plurality and democracy. In the rest of Afghanistan, life goes on, just as it did before the Taliban.

Across the border Pakistani propaganda and American support of General Musharraf have failed to convince the rest of the world that Pakistan is a democracy simply because it holds elections. Yet while the Bush administration absolves Pakistan for its military order it heaps scorn on the democracy in Iran, though Iranian elections are freer and fairer than any held in Pakistan. It is Palestine, however, that holds the record for the fairest and most transparent election in the history of this region. But Palestine, along with Iran, has no place on the Bush list of democracies.

This confirms that the world is in a state of total chaos. Real democracy where government represent and act according to the will of the people is nowhere in sight. The tide of false democratization is fast ebbing not only in the Muslim but also non-Muslim world. It will be an extremely rude realization for the present generation, if it is still around, to find out that what they considered as the end of history and the best of human governance was the zenith of fascism.

Titles and definitions are irrelevant. Whether we call it democracy or fascism, what matters is the reality, not the definitions. We must remember, fascists kill. Fascists maim. But they are never supposed to be blamed. They sit inside their glass houses and bomb the world with all their might. They lie through their teeth, but they are pure and holy. For them to live, others must die. The sooner we realize that we are passing through the darkest age of fascism, the better it is for the humanity. Instead of struggling for the illusive myth of democratizing the Muslim world, both Muslims and non-Muslims have to work to liberate themselves from the darkest, cruelest and most oppressive forces and systems that have enslaved the humanity today.


The above is an excerpt from Abid Ullah Jan’s latest book, "After Fascism: Muslims and the Struggle for Self-determination." Avaliable at:

Also see: "The ICSSA"