Archives: Arab Spring looking more like Islamic Revolution

Originally published in October 2011
Simon Nguyen

The Arab Spring movement has brought about more than just democracy. Even as the American media is still debating how much credit President Barack Obama should get for the successful dethronement of Muammar Gaddafi, recent developments in Libya paint a worrisome picture. Immediately following his declaration of Libya’s liberation, the leader of the National Transitional Council boldly called for Islam’s Sharia Law to be the basis for the country’s new constitution.

How bold was this move by the NTC’s head? While most Muslim countries incorporate elements of Sharia into their laws, few countries use Sharia Law as the main source of their constitution. While it remains to be seen how much of the Islamic law will be present in the new Libyan constitution, any hope that the country will become the next Turkey has surely vanished.

Then there is Tunisia – the birthplace of the Arab Spring. The North African country recently held its first fully democratic election in decades. The election was unsurprisingly won by Ennahda – an Islamist party that had previously been barred from participating in the country’s politics. While the victorious Islamists have pledged moderation in their management of the country, it is hard to believe that this new political force won’t attempt to impose traditional Islamic values on the previously secular state. After spending decades exiled from the country’s politics, Tunisian Islamists are unlikely to let this golden opportunity slipping away from their grasp.

While Libya and Tunisia are at least inching closer to some form of democracy, Egypt remains submerged in political uncertainty and chaos. Since the removal of Hosni Mubarak, political unrest and violence have only increased. Coptic Christians, who had lived peacefully in Egypt for decades, have been targeted by Islamic extremists. Furthermore, there has been at least one instance of the Israeli embassy in Cairo being attacked by rioters.

However, these developments are the least of Egypt’s troubles. The once banned Muslim Brotherhood is expected to seriously contend in the upcoming parliamentary elections. If the ultra-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood somehow manages to win these elections, the U.S. will be put in a very uncomfortable situation. Will Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama, who has praised the Arab Spring movement, side with the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood or will he side with Israel – the U.S. most important ally?

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