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25 May 2012


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FB Ali

Is Islam the answer?

In a Muslim country Islam is the answer. Because that is what its Muslim citizens expect it to provide. What exactly 'Islam' signifies tends to vary from country to country. Even countries that formally adopt the sharia as law, the particular version could vary. How 'Islam' or the sharia is applied in practice (as opposed to what is in the constitution or the statute books) opens up another range of possible variations.

As I have maintained, the distinction between political and religious Islamists is a real one, and worth recognizing (especially in the context of what I have said above). The MB are, by and large, political Islamists; their Egypt would be markedly different from the one that the Salafis would try to fashion if they came into power.

As for the army mounting a coup, I do not know much about the internal dynamics of the Egyptian military. But I do know that in Pakistan, which also has a military that has intruded into the political sphere, the freedom of action of the generals is currently significantly constrained by the attitudes of their mid- and lower-level officers and men.



Well, they can kiss the tourist trade goodbye unde an MB government. ok


FB Ali

And... If an MB/Salafi government takes up an anti American-Israeli position they can also kiss both military and civilian aid money goodbye. pl


FB Ali--

Thank you for pointing out that all "Islamist" groups do not have the same goals. And that there will be variations in the way sharia law is interpreted.

In Jordan there are at least four different parties associated with the Muslim Brotherhood alone, each with its own set of priorities.

Some people interviewed on TV in Egypt have expressed the opinion that the introduction of sharia law would mean that the rule of law would be observed for a change. And that the law would specifically address the needs of the poor and social justice in general.

If they are correct, Egypt could do worse. (And the Egyptian people have years of experience with doing worse.)



I don't agree with either of you. Any group that represents political Islamism has the same goals that I have enumerated. They may lie about them. All that is tactics. They may prevaricate but in the end they are the enemies of modernity and the welfare of the common man. pl


Col. -

Would you consider Ergodan of Turkey an Islamist? No snark, just interested in your views of him.



Erdogan. I would consider him a variety of crypto-Islamist. His purge of the TGS reflects his real beliefs as does his wife's attire. pl


Albayim, RTE's wife's attire is atrocious, to me it is worse than watching rats devour a human corps. I, as a Kemalist watch in total disgust and amazement. If anyone here had the chance of vieving still photos of Turkey urban life in from 30s to 80s will not be able to distinguish people's attire from any of those in a European or South American city.
RTE is truly an ideologue of notice, and a very astute politician. He has taken some very effective and broad swipes at the Kemalist elite, Ataturk introduced modernity and indeed the foundations of the rather regressive state structure. With visible success on his part. He enjoys a solid 50% vote on any election-but by quantity and not by quality. Movers and shakers of Turkey, University educated, worldy, traditionally Kemalist remaining 50% will not let him turn Turkey into a Sheria or Islamist state, and that is without looking up to the Army to do that for them in coups or dictations. Turkish people had their run with religion, ahh, I dont think they like it that much. In the end, his reign has been a about a class war, and recent economic developemnt bridged the gap in incomes between the urban elites and countryfolk. The fear of the Kemalists to lose the republic has subsided, Army has been stunned, and the ultra religious, really, seem to prefer a wealthy western style life to that of a strict Islamic one.
In short, RTE s "takkiye", hopefully it is the same in Arabic, to pretend to be something while seeking othjer goals is too much revealed now and what it promises will be rejected. RTE's soft underbelly is the "women", and as one can see in more than 100 high class malls in Istanbul, his wife has not become a fashion icon yet.


HankP, he doesn't seem to me after 10 yrs of observation. Religious, yes, resistant to modernity, yes, not so comfortable with Ataturk's Turkey, yes. But he knows his limits and the value of material benefits of not to veer too far as to be seen an extremist. I have to hand it to him, he has common sense and keeps a tight watch over the overall public opinion. Turks will never roll back the gains of Ataturk revolition, its the national myth and Phoenix story every nation needs. And Islamist is really a bad misnomer, like the war against terrorism-one can not fight against a tactic, just as a belief in a particular religion can be deemed an overcompassing ideology which governs evry aspect of public or privare life. Oh, by the way so called Islamists of Turkey love money and understand international finace, so difficult to run a bank and be against interest...See what I mean, they are under huge pressures to succeed, which means money, economic developement and services and be connected to the world economy, and look pius...CApitalism will temper them and make them keep a cool head.



"Takkiya" is an Arabic word in origin. It means the same thing, deception to advance or protect Islam. Erdogan is revealed as a crypto-Islamist? Good. The Turkish Army will not give up the Kemalist revolution? Good. I, too, although not a Turk am a Kemalist. My three years residence ni Izmir brought with it travel throughour the country and I cam to see Turkey as a place that had its foot on the path of modernity to the benefit of ordinary Turks. Are the Salafists/MB in Egypt also practising "takkiya?" Certainly. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Kemalist or non-Kemalist - it matters not.

There is a fundamental commonality to both of them - intolerance.

One side will beat you because you are not sufficiently Muslim, the other will beat you because you are too much of a Muslim.

One compares a woman in hijab to a rat eating corpse; the other one considers a woman out of hijab to be an abomination.

Ah yes, Modernity - a creature of West in its post-Christian phase: but among the Muslims those ho stood for this presumed Modernity were Dictators and assorted other strong-men who ruled in opposition to Islam.

Did Nasser, Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, Ataturk, Qaddafi, Ayub Khan, Najibullah stand for the Rule of Law, Representative Government, and Liberty?

I think not.

Western Modernity will not prevail among Muslim polities - that much is certain. For as even you admit it - as something un-Islamic or even anti-Islamic - it is going against the core identity of a Muslim.

With a lot of work, both intellectual and political, some of the more salient features of the Western governing structures, such as respect for the Rule of Law and Representative system of government, may be achieved.

But even that much will take many generations; perhaps 140 years.



IMO it is a bit much to call Qathafi a "modernist." I don't mind seeing a few eggs broken to advance the common good. That is what the Pahlavis did (you left them out). I am grateful for your point that traditional Islam including the Salafist varieties is inimical to Western style liberal institutions. That has been my argument. pl


In response to Mr. Babak Makkinejad, " Did Nasser, Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, Ataturk, Qaddafi, Ayub Khan, Najibullah stand for the Rule of Law, Representative Government, and Liberty?", I am shocked. How can anyone mention Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein in the same sentence with Ataturk? I would not know where to start...

But let me start here, when Ataturk was at the height of his power, late 30's, he could have become a Hitler or a Mussolini. Instead, he led an initiative to create an opposition party and guided his best friend and comrade, Inonu to lead it. CHP, which is still the opposition socialist party in Turkey with solid 20% vote . Now, someone show me a dictator and a anti Muslim strong man ever do that. And Najibullah? In the same context as Ataturk?

"Western Modernity will not prevail among Muslim polities - that much is certain." This is patently wrong. It is putting all those who call themselves Muslim in one huge pot and all opposite "Western Modern". In Southern beaches and holiday resorts of Turkey, I don't see mobs attacking topless German Tourists sunbathing...I see ministers of Culture and Tourism resigning for allegations of curruption... Anyway, clash of civilizations mythos is so wrong-to try to alianate Eastern religions and cultures is so wrong and detremental, to put forward these theories of irreconsiability is so wrong-it is the same as saying people of Muslim faith are incapable of arriving at universal Western Liberal values, it so smacks of bigotry. After all, they arrived at the concept of zero, and stellar navigation all by themselves. Universal values?

Turkey is very unique also when it comes to the carrying of Muslim faith, Turks were late converts to Islam after a Shamanist past, and most ferecious as late converts in furthering its aims, as were Vikings and the Irish. At heart, Turks are hedonists and really need to be mentioned in a different category when the subject is Islam. And also under the light that Turks were geographically closest to the West as Moslem peoples go, and right on top of where Democracy was invented. I am personally in awe everyday as I meet talented and enlightened people I meet here, members of NGOs, professors at the top of world rankings, business entrepereneurs and public workers, like mayors and heads of commissions etc. There is a democratic will and culture that shows from ground level here. And these people are Moslems of varying devotion, which is never a subject. Instead I see a great optimism and energy devoid of dogma. Of great practism and common sense. And Ataturk had more than a little to do with it despite all.

Babak Makkinejad

I forgot about the Pahlavis.

Hinduism, Judaism, and Eastern Orthodoxy are also devoid of Liberty.

The origin of the practice of Liberty, in my opinion, must be sought in the traditions of the Germanic Tribes that later invaded and destroyed Western Roman Empire.

Liberty will not obtain outside of Western Europe; that is both an empirical observation and a theoretical conclusion.

As for eggs being broken; they are human beings that will be broken with no discernible benefit for common good.

Saudi Arabia - a repressive police state with no rule of law, no liberty, and no form of responsible government has a human development index of 54; Turkey's is 98.


Yes Albayim, it seems that way in Egypt to me unfortunately. But Egyptians are a common sense people with extensive historical and proximity ties to the West. They will get tired of unbrideled, incompetent religionism quickly if it goes that way. It is actually best they have their fill in faith running the trains on time. Then they can go about really creating the instutions and the mind set that allows democracy to prevail, especially if they see some positive results quickly, like tourists coming back.
But I have a feeling whoever comes to power in Egypt, even the ultra religious, will have commonsense enough not to go too far, and too hard when it comes to their agenda. And if they do well, they will be relunctunt to be hard core literal Islamists.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

Ataturk is the man most responsible for the expulsion of the so-called Pontic Greeks from Anatolia; ethnic cleaning par excellence.

His government also protected the perpetrators of the massacres against Armenians. That too is certain.

Yes, he continued the 180-yer long Ottoman attempts at reform in a radically different manner - some of his acts I agree with some I do not.

But his ideas of statism were not those of Liberty, the Rule of Law, and Representative government.

They were really shows - the Parliaments, the various political parties etc; not even decaffeinated coffee - as it were.

The German topless women only means that the "honor-less" faranji can demonstrate his or her lack of honor to all the Muslim Turks.

Yes, so Turks are really hedonists; that was why when attacking in Korea they kept on saying "Din, Din, Din".

It is a sad day indeed that I hear a nominal Muslim take pride in Shamanism - has the belief in God the Creator become so debased?


Sorry if I seem dense, but "crypto" in the sense that he's a true Islamist and hides it, or that he's not really an Islamist but portrays himself that way for political gain?


Kunuri -

Well, that squares with my limited experience. The (few) Turks I have met seem to have integrated Islam with modern life in a very natural way, that is to say that they either don't see or choose to ignore any conflicts between scripture and western values. On the other hand, the (few) Iranians I've met seem to have largely repudiated Islam based on their (or their families) experiences after the 79 revolution.

I have to hope the Turkish model, or at least the Indonesian model, succeeds; otherwise the future looks rather grim.



He is much more of an Islamist than he admits. As for the ability of Turks to integrate Islam with modern life, the Kemalist revolution occurred in the 20s and the more unwilling Islamists in Turkey were suppressed effectively until this government took office. The Pahlavis never achieved that and as you say the Iranians are exiles who fled from the Islamist revolution of 1979. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Iran is a religious country of the Shia, for the Shia, by the Shia. Without Shia Islam as a glue, that country cannot exist.

The Shah of Iran misunderstood very badly his position: he was the Shah of the Shia first and the Shah of Iran (a very distant) second.



Well sai. The pious Sunni feel the same way everywhere. pl

Charlie Wilson


Ibn Khaldun in The Muqaddimah said that the main sign of a defeated people is when they take up the clothing, diet, and other habits of the conquerors. In essence being more royal than royalty. Maybe the Afghans have a point!

On another point the slow slide of the ancient Germanic tribes back into worshiping Wotan is to be welcomed.


Mr.Babak Makkinejad,

Each and every one of your paragraphs is wrong, not based on facts and context, but very strong on third hand reference and information.

It will take too long to argue each point, but this Turks' yelling "Din. din, din" as they attacked in Korean War... I have not seen in any record, book, personal or oral history or reportage anything like that. And on this subject, I have been doing serious research for a movie script I have been writing for years, on top of it being my personal hobby since childhood. Combat yell of Turks is "Allah, Allah, Allah", repeatedly..."Din" means religion in Turkish, maybe someone had a cross-over synopsis which you base your opinions on. I post here only on subjects I know well about, both personally and factually, I wish you would do the same, especially when it comes to Turkey now, where I live. Now, if you can demonstrate to me the factual basis of your "Din, din, din" comment, I will take yout other comments seriously to respond.

Babak Makkinejad

Ibn Khaldun is likely correct again (just like his other observation of the impossibility of secular governing structures in Islam).

Indeed, due to challenge posed by the Western Civilization, Russians, Muslims, Africans, and East Asians to a large extent altered their attires.

In case of China - the Sinic Civilization, centered on the idea of Tao - shattered. A new one is centuries into the future.

And one can see that Arabs, insulated from the West by their largely oral culture, have retained more of their attire than say the Turks or the Iranians.

On the other hand, the struggle for the control of women's attire goes on in the "Modernized" sectors of Turkey, Iran, and India.

India is especially interesting since the men - in the professions - wear suits while they insist on their women to wear shlawar's and Saris.

I think as the dominance of the Western Civilization is reduced and these non-Western people develop their own ways to addressing that challenge (their self-confidence increasing) they will develop newer attires in contradistinction to the Westerner's.

Of course, by that time, may be the Western people will have gone down the path of their neo-paganism to such an extent that maintaining a distinction with them will become the mark of a truly urbane and cultivated person.

I do think that Ibn Khaldun - for obvious reasons - neglected music. When one look at Korea and Japan one can see that their traditional music is all but dead.

Not so among the Muslims or Hindus (both in North and South India).

So, in my opinion, music is probably a better gauge of the "defeated-ness" of a people.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

Regrettably I cannot supply the reference to "Din..." cry of Turkish soldiers in Korea. I read it somewhere but I do not recall where.

My statements regarding Ataturk are historical - whether you take them seriously or not.

The fact remains that the Muslim Ottomans treated teh Christian Pontic Greeks better than the ostensibly secular Turkish Republic.

And so on and so forth...

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