It’s a week or two old now, but the warning that runs through this article from the London Spectator is still worth pondering:
Here’s an extract:
As a hint of what might be in store for Egypt, consider the city of Alexandria. Once it was a cosmopolitan summer resort famous for its secular, carefree atmosphere. Now it is about the least fun place to live in North Africa. All Muslim women in the city are veiled, among the young often for fear of otherwise being labelled a whore; and violence between local Christians and Muslims is commonplace (23 Christians were killed by a bomb planted in a Coptic Orthodox church on New Year’s day). Most bars have stopped serving alcohol. The only women to be found on the beaches, even in the height of summer, are those taking care of their kids — and they are invariably covered from head-to-toe in black.
Just another reminder of the mistake that Mubarak (alas no Ataturk) made in ceding so much of the religious and cultural arena to the clerics…
And then there’s this:
It is a great mistake to assume that democracy is an enemy of Islamism. When the gift of democracy is unwrapped in the Arab world, Islamists frequently spring out of the box. The jihadis may be despised by most Muslims, but often in Arab countries only about 20 to 40 per cent of the population vote. It is by no means impossible for the Islamists to secure a majority from the minority, because their supporters are the most fanatical. Whatever the theory of democratisation in the Arab world, the history is clear. Where democracy, however tentatively, has already been introduced, it is the Islamists who have come to power.
Food for thought.