Tunisia, where the 2011 Arab uprisings began, remains an ominous model for where these uprisings will end.
The nation's first round of elections are in, and, as expected, the Islamist party, al-Nahda, won by a landslide, gaining over 40% of the seats in the national constituent assembly. As usual, the mainstream media, interpreting events exclusively through a Western paradigm, portrayed this largely as a positive development.
Thus, a Washington Post editorial, "Tunisia again points the way for Arab democracy," asserts how "the country's leading Islamic party claimed victory—and that, too, could prove a positive example." Other reports, perfunctorily prefixing the word "moderate" to "Islamist"—an oxymoron to common sense, an orthodoxy to the MSM—gush and hail "democracy."
Such sunny depictions are not mere products of Western projection but augmented by conniving Islamists who spoon-feed the world what it wants to hear. Thus, an MSNBC report, "Tunisia's Islamists Seek to Reassure Secularists," optimistically talks of how the Islamists "said they would share power and would not try to push through radical measures."
Of course they did.
Meanwhile, despite these fantasies, the mood among seculars on Tunisian ground is one of dread and urgency. Wael Elebrady, host of the popular show Al Haqiqa, speaking to a corresponded in Tunisia soon after al-Nahda's "sweeping victory," confirmed that the Islamists have immense grassroots support, that they will have a major say in the formulation of laws (Sharia), and that, if the Western MSM is eating up Islamist talk of "sharing power," the apparently outnumbered "liberals and secularists" are not.
Some reflections: First, among Arabic speaking nations, Tunisia has long been recognized as an especially "Westernized" nation, secular and liberal—at least in comparison to other Arab countries, and not unlike traditional Lebanon.
Now, if Islamists have risen to power in onetime "moderate" Tunisia, through the usual conduits—grassroots support, lip-service to democracy, promises of "sharing power," and a complacent West—is there any doubt that Islamists will also takeover in those nations where they are especially entrenched, like Egypt and Libya?
Ali Akbar Velayati, top advisor of Iran's Supreme Leader, accurately predicts that "the result of the election in Tunisia will positively affect regional developments. We will observe the victory of Islamists in future elections in Egypt and Libya."
A Wall Street Journal report elaborates:
Tunisia's small, well-educated and religiously moderate population could make it an unreliable metric for gauging the regional political changes that will follow. The Nahda Party distinguished itself as uniquely moderate when compared with other Islamist parties in the Arab world. Egyptian Islamists, who are led by an 83-year-old organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, in general take a stricter view of the role Islamic law, known as Shariah, should play in Egyptian governance.
Accordingly, not only are Islamists better positioned to come to power through elections in Egypt than Tunisia, but more critical consequences are sure to follow: peace with Israel will be contemptuously scrapped—once capability permits—and the suffering of Christian Copts, who are already under attack in a myriad of ways, will be institutionalized.
Yet the West remains transfixed before the words "democracy" and "elections." Nice words, to be sure; but just as the generic word "terror"—as in "War on Terror"—provides absolutely no understanding of the ideas motivating it, so too does the generic word "democracy" provide no understanding of the draconian, anti-infidel ideas the "will of the people" will establish—ideas encapsulated by one word: Sharia.
Consider the following excerpt from a Fox News report:
"I am the enemy of democracy," Hesham al-Ashry said in an interview with Fox News in his Cairo tailor shop. The devout Muslim is a main organizer in a group called the Salafists, which is working to bring Shariah law to Egypt. They, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, have risen quickly in the past eight months to fill the power vacuum left in post-Mubarak Egypt.
Left unspoken is how they rose—and will continue to rise—to power: democracy, "people-power," which al-Ashry gladly exploits, even as he is "the enemy of democracy."
The report continues: "As for what's next if al-Ashry and his followers get their way, 'instead of one Iran …you have two.'"
Actually, "what's next," in the grand picture of things, not the myopia of the moment, is the resurrection of a Sharia-enforcing Caliphate and the ushering of a new age of conflict—an age when future generations will look back to their Western predecessors and see in them the sort of passive naivety that would make Neville Chamberlain look like Winston Churchill.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.