Will there be an Islamic Christmas?

The Arab spring has led to an Islamic winter. But the question that arises out of the smouldering embers is how are we going to deal with it? Blankets, woollens, shawls or do we have to resort to electric heaters?

The Islamic winter

A new phenomenon has emerged in the land of oil and dates. March saw the massive revolt and collapse of many a dictatorial regimes. The winds of change that started in March have not stopped blowing. December is witnessing the rise of Islamic parties wherever elections are being held, be it Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco. The Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, Morocco’s moderate Islamic group- Justice and Development party (PJD) headed by Abdullah Benkirane and Ennahda in Tunisia have taken the front row.

The Islamic parties have always been active in politics. Since 1940’s they have been taking part in parliamentary elections whenever they can and forming alliances with both secular and socialist parties where it deemed fit. However these parties came under severe repression by the dictatorial regimes backed by western powers which intensified after 9/11.

Islamist: different interpretation by the west

Islamic parties or rather the word “Islamist” has always been put under closer scrutiny. Islamist is a Muslim who is knowledgeable in Islam or who use Islam as a basis for participation in political sphere. Where as in west, Islam and Islamist parties are given a very narrow interpretation and usually linked with extreme Islamism such as Jihadism.

Not very long ago, a day in history

West especially US share a long drawn history with the Arab world. US has played a major role in Arab politics, be it in Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran-Iraq war, military coup of 1953 by CIA, Six day war etc. US had tried to make and break regimes to its advantage by favouring dictatorial regimes loyal to it rather than democracy. No wonder there is animosity between the moderate Islamic parties and western powers.

Naughty or nice?

The moderate Islamic parties in the Arab must realise the supremacy and influence western powers hold in the international framework. Their clout over economic and political framework is still significant. The Arab nations must use this clout to their advantage. The acrimony should be buried in the desert sand.

The western powers on the other hand must accept the reality. The change has come and it is here to stay. The best policy forward would be to give up unnecessary intervention in electoral process. Time has come to take a neutral stance and pull the plug on dictatorial and military regime backing. USA must maintain a sociable standing with the newly form governments, if it wants to continue its policies to contain Iran with which US had not have any diplomatic relationship since the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, have greater control over the oil reserves, contain Al-Qaeda and prevent its proliferation. It is time to bury the differences in the snow and play nice. Only time will decide whether this Islamic winter will bring an Islamic Christmas and a Happy New beginning for the Arab world.

Bhanuj Saharan