Is Islam responsible for the debacle of the Arab world?

Since the fall of the Soviet empire, it became apparent that the Cold War, no longer necessary, American ideologues have sought and found “a replacement Satan”, giving particular place after the invasion of the Iraq and the incantation of Bush Sr., the advent of a new world order, as well as the flowering of studies. This goes from Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” to Samuel Huntington with “The Clash of Civilizations” which designates the green peril and the yellow peril as the opponent of the Judeo-Christian civilization.

The Islam, the third excluded from the Abrahamic revelation is designated in part as the scapegoat for current ills of the “West”. It is therefore not surprising to weigh the weight of the opponent by sizing. This was done by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which this month published a comprehensive study of Muslims around the world entitled “Mapping the Global Muslim Population. A report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population “.

The first lesson of this study, with 1.57 billion Muslims (23% of the world population), Asia represents the largest proportion of them, more than 60% of the total. The four most populous Muslim countries are, in order Indonesia (202 million), Pakistan (174 million), India (160 million) and Bangladesh (145 million). The most populous Arab country of Muslims is only in fifth position, Egypt (78 million). North Africa and the Near East have only 315 million Muslims (just over 20% of the total), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (240 million). 80% of Muslims live in countries where they represent a large majority.

In the same order of the knowledge of the Other, an important work written by John L. Esposito, one of the best American specialists of Islam, and Dalia Mogahed, an analyst working for the Gallup polling institute. Who speaks for Islam? What a billion muslims really think (“Who speaks for the sake of Islam?” This book is interesting in more ways than one, for the first time, to our knowledge, an image of the situation of Muslims in the world is given. Alain Gresh who presents it written “This book is based on a very wide opinion poll, through more than 35 countries and representing, according to the authors, more than 90% of 1.3 billion Muslims. to make the Muslims speak themselves and not the leaders or the experts. The authors thus summarize the main results of their investigation ”

“Muslims do not have a monolithic view of the West. They judge the different countries according to their politics, not their culture or their religion; Their main dream is to find work, not to engage in jihad; Those who approve acts of terrorism are a minority and this minority is not more religious than the rest of the Muslims; What Muslims admire most in the West is its technology and democracy; What Muslims condemn most in the West is “moral decadence” and the break with traditional values (in proportions similar to those of… Americans); Muslim women want both equal rights and the maintenance of religion in society; The majority does not want religious leaders to have a direct role in shaping constitutions, but is in favour of religious law being a source of legislation. For the majority of Muslims (more than 90% in some countries), religion is an essential aspect of their lives.

“Many see religion as a primordial aspect of their identity. Islam is not, for its followers, what it appears to foreign observers, a simple shell of binding rules and punishment. For many Muslims, it is a mental and spiritual compass that gives meaning to life, guides them and gives them hope. A significant proportion of people say that their lives have an important purpose (90% for Egyptians, 91% for Saudis).”

“The authors show the changes in the situation of women in recent decades, with their massive integration into education (especially at the university level). They all want more rights and in particular legal equality with men, the right to vote without any family pressure, the possibility of working in any position according to their qualification (this is particularly the case with 76% of Saudi women). Do they want to be “liberated by the West”? However, when asked if adopting Western values would advance their cause, only 12% of Indonesian women, 20% of Iranian women and 18% of Turks agree.”

They believe that attachment to their spiritual and moral values is an important element in the progress that their situation must undergo. “Working for women’s advancement based on sharia rather than eliminating it is a theme that is reborn in contemporary Muslim societies. Muslim women want both respect for their religion and their rights; While they admire certain aspects of the West, they do not adopt all the values of the West; The majority of Muslim women look with suspicion on Western defenders of women’s rights”

From the quick analysis of the two previous studies, one can deduce that most of Islam is Asian. Asian countries seem to be developing in general according to the rules of democracy and are experiencing double-digit growth rates (Malaysia, Indonesia). Moreover, alternation is devoted (Turkey, Malaysia, India, Pakistan). It is therefore wrong to attribute the problems of Arab societies to Islam, which is therefore innocent of the outrages suffered by Arab Muslims on its behalf.

Why then, the Arab world is the last student everywhere as hammered every year the UNDP reports? Why is the alternation always done by riot? In the 1960s, the Arab world was relatively better placed in the indicators of economic and social development than Latin America. In forty years, the regression is obvious, to the extent of the disarray of societies and individuals deprived of benchmarks and rules of play, subject to a permanent authoritarianism, enslaved in a climate of repression, it has been calculated that on average Arab potentate remained in power for twenty years, the record of Guinness is undisputedly held by Kadaddi]. Despair is gaining more and more layers. “Result of the races”, the countries take a delay which is not linear but exponential.

“One would have thought Hicham Ben Abdallah El Alaoui wrote that on the economic level, the “structural adjustments “(including privatizations and the reduction of state subsidies), the free trade agreements, the call for investment and the incentives to undertaking would finally bring out new middle classes. (…) Twenty years later, the record of these hopes in the various fields (political, economic, ideological and international relations) is distressing. (…) Islamism, in its different forms, has come to appear as the best door -speaking of discontent and demands for change, even among traditionally leftist and secular groups, such as students. If the secular and Islamist voices are part of the same grand chorus demanding democratization.”

In short, the “reforms” inflicted on our region for fifteen or twenty years – under pressure from the West – did not lead to the path that would inexorably lead from economic liberalization to democracy, through the modernization and secularization. (…) The state fires all wood, it creates its own media, its own simulacrum of a civil society. It is a staging, a limited rationalization of the political order. The authoritarian state has not been transformed by democratization, it has decked out its accessories. It could be dubbed “authoritarianism 2.0”. (…) Geopolitical factors weigh on these evolutions. (…) From 2001, the administration of Mr. George W. Bush has opted for a new reading of the pact with the region: the priority of the United States would no longer be stability.

This abandonment of an old principle frightened many regimes, but the Arab opinion quickly felt it: this democratic fervour was only the camouflage of a program of interventions in the only interest of the United States and Israel. Local regimes quickly learned to decipher contradictory statements from the West and regained their confidence. A democratic facade would be enough for them, provided they contributed their stature to the “war on terror” and did not oppose too vigorously the hegemony of the United States or the interests of Israel.

Burhan Ghalioun explains the malaise of the Arab masses both by exogenous causes (multiple interferences) and endogenous (the screed of power) In the modern world he writes in perpetual change, doomed to globalization, instability to confusion, to poverty, to the presence of multiple threats, the peoples seek in their patrimony more landmarks which mark a sense of rooting in the history of references, and a recourse than values of piety.

With the advent of modernity, Arab political thought is torn between two anxieties: on the one hand, the fear that Muslim societies are excluded from the process of modernization, and on the other hand, the fear that they are forced to renounce their religion and thus their identity.

Thus, the political debate has been structured in two main tendencies: one, of religious inspiration, which one can call the Muslim or Islamist tendency, and the other, with secular character, which one can qualify modernist or secularist.

At present, as disorders emerge, several questions emerge: What role does religion play in the modern national community? What place should the state have and what relationship should it have with religion? … The real evil of Muslim societies is not Islam but political management.”

“The absence of catechism in Islam makes religious teaching dependent on political power. But cultural policies are nowhere innocent. They reflect strategies of power and respond to the conditions of reproduction of systems of social domination. (…) The formation of a destructured thought that is today the rule is the fruit of an educational strategy and beyond, political. It is part of the same company that dedicates the rest of the population to marginalization and homelessness.

These policies are not separable from all the socio-political mechanisms of the system in place that sanctions, honesty, initiative and creativity. It promotes clientelism, hypocrisy and submission to leaders. In short, it is necessary to hunt the key to the destructured, disoriented, disoriented, helpless and destabilized consciousness that tends too much to define the Muslim consciousness of today in the subjugation of all knowledge of any culture, any religion, any literature of any kind. teaching to the strategy of power.”

Burhan Ghalioun adds the instrumentalization of all those Arab states whose “all security” is the only reason to be subjected to religion on the one hand (reduced to the only aspect of Shari’a) and to the secularism proposed as a new state religion on the other hand. “For many decades, Islam was considered incompatible with the values of democracy.

What is the real impact of Islam in the political evolution of Muslim countries, especially the Arab countries of the Middle East? (…) it is also wrong to say that Islam is incompatible with democracy than to support the opposite. (..) Muslims are, as in all societies, divided between liberals and radicals, clerical and secularist, republican and monarchist. (…) What would be the solution? “The factors that promote a democratic outcome are in my opinion, continues Borhan Ghalioun four: The bankruptcy of authoritarian systems on all levels: national, economic, political and cultural.

The emergence of critical thinking, new spaces of sociability, new political and civil forces. The awakening of public opinion as a result of the globalization of the media and the popularization through the Internet of information media, resulting in the birth of new aspirations and strong motivations for change. (…) Uncertainty about the possibility of obtaining consistent and long-term international support is proven. Indeed, it is not certain that the Euro-American powers that enjoy a privileged position in the region really believe Hence the desire to exercise some kind of continuous control over the political evolution of systems and try to impose on the societies of the region teams with good relations with the Western powers. (….)

How to finally overcome the major impasse since the failure of reformism: the anxiety of the exclusion of modern history and the abandonment of religious and cultural values and references. This famous double wandering that suffers in particular the peoples of the Maghreb tossed between a “Middle Eastern” metropolis that has shown its limits, and that instrumentalizes religion in a retrograde way and a liberal globalization that fissures identities through the power of his “pleasure industries”.

The Algerian television programs perfectly illustrate this wandering, by broadcasting both a religious program “Foursane el Kor’an” and the Arab equivalent of the “Star Academy”, a Lebanese program, which is only a pale imitation of varieties from across the Atlantic. It is obvious that the “solution” cannot be exogenous, and in no case in external interferences that only maintain the Arab masses in the state.

By Chems Eddine Chitour

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