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20 December 2012


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Babak Makkinejad

If only Egypt could be so fortunate as to be another Iran; I am afraid that is a bridge too far, an unreachable dream, as it were.


The Iranian state may be marginally more functional than Egypt's.

But you really aspire to an Egypt that is an Arab-Sunni edition of Iran's Persian-Shi'a tyranny? In control of the Suez Canal??

Charles I

ensuring "no one to negotiate with" is a permanent condition.

Loved the bit about the Air France building.

Can't everyone be bought?

Babak Makkinejad

Your statements are a jaundiced and prejudiced view of Islamic Republic of Iran.

The distance between Iran and Egypt is akin to the distance between France and Romania; in every respect that you may care to consider.

What comes across quite clearly from Western commentators and policy wonks is their opposition to political Islam and thus to Islam itself.

That is a foolish position to take against a World Religion.


Opposition to political Islam entails opposition to Islam? What about the many Muslims opposed to political Islam?

Isn't your position akin to those who equate opposition to Zionism to anti-Semitism?

Patrick D

"And its idea of a Western frontier is the Mediterranean."

Please correct me if I am wrong but now that Barak is "retired from politics", do not all the political parties represented in the current Israeli cabinet profess the idea of an eastern frontier being the Jordan River?

All of them claim "Judea and Sumeria" to be part of Israel, no?

Babak Makkinejad

Let me again repeat that, in my opinion, Muslim polities cannot be secular in the sense that US or France are.

There are two reasons for that: the scriptural basis for a separation of religion and state does not exist in Islam.

And the second reason is that outside of Islam there is no tradition from which can be deduced (or otherwise derived) a basis for such a separation.

All Muslims states that I am aware of have stated Islam to be their official religions. Very many of them are explicity called Islamic Republics. Some have enshrined special places in their constitutions for Doctors of Religious Sciences of Islam.

And very many of those that Westerners like to think of as "secular" are militry-based dictatorships.

Now I challenge you or anyone else on this forum to create a theoretical basis for separation of politics and Islam that will not - in due course - become essentially an attack on the principles of Islam.

In regards to the State of Israel, I articulated my views here some time ago: that the appelation of the name "Israel" - i.e. the Jewish people, as in "Shema Israel..." - clearly indicates a religious project.

Attacks on Zionism are attacks on Israel and since Israel is the "Jewish people" - both in the sense of a "state" and a "people" - conceptually such an attack is attack on a form of Judaism; in my opinion.

Now, if the name of the state were something less religiously significant - such as Jewsih Republic of Palestine or Hebraic Republic of Palestine - then your point would have been valid; in my opinion.


If "political Islam" is accurately represented by most present-day governments claiming to be "Islamic" then indeed -- I'm opposed to "political Islam", as I'm opposed to every other political system of oppression and abuse.

You're not?

Maybe you think that cutting off the hands of thieves, hiding women under cloaks and disqualifying political candidates with 'incorrect religious consciousness' is a desirable way to run a country. I don't.

Babak Makkinejad

I believe that you cannot live other people's histories for them.

Nor do I find it advisable for any state to predicate her foreign relations on opposition to the religious beliefs or practices of other states.

I personaly am opposed to Temple Prostitution in India into which are introduced orphaned or abandoned Dalit girls.

I am also opposed to the absence of divorce in Hindu relgions, in social shunning of widows, and in the abject absence of Charity among vast millions of Hindus.

Yet I do not recommend any Muslim (or non-Muslim) state to formulate her foreign policy in opposition to Hinduism.

That would be a road to religious war and ruination.


History tells us that you can talk to all of these people so long as they have a settled territory and a settled constituency. The problem is that it's not comfortable or convenient - and that's what the post-modern political sensibility is all about. Moreover, can you think of anyone in a senior position in the Obama administration who has the comvbination of skills and emotional maturity to talk to the IRI or Hamas? Please notify us of any sightings.

As a practical matter, Hamas leaders has given manny signals that they are prepared to modify its earlier rhetorical position, e.g. Mishal's long interview with Charlie Rose some time ago. Life in the Washington - NYC foreign policy bubble is just too easy for people more concerned about their careers and avoiding mental strain than conducting the country's externa; affairs in a responsible manner.

Babak Makkinejad

No, not "pst-modern sensibility"; rather just Hubris.


Firstly, I agree that "you cannot live other people's histories for them". The experience of Islamist government is something many Muslim-majority countries must go through. The longer Islamists are kept away from power (and responsibility) the more their halo glows, and the more repression is needed to shut them out (which just makes their halo shine brighter still). Whether this arrival in the palaces results in the final triumph of the Islamist project, or, as I suspect, disillusionment and eventually new thinking within the Islamic world about the relationship of religion and the state, I do not know.

I do not have a theoretical solution to the problem of religion and the state in Islam, but often theoretical solutions emerge in response to factual developments and not the other way around (Islamic banking is doing surprisingly well, considering the prohibition on interest). Most people do not give much thought to theory. As long as things are going all right the average person can live happily with many inconsistencies. Most Jews, Muslims, Christians, and atheists are too busy working, eating, sleeping, and watching TV to worry about the coherence of their political system with their beliefs. The others, the ideologically activated, are small, influential minorities. Most ordinary Egyptians do not care so much that the state conforms to Islamic principles as that it supplies them with subsidized food and fuel, water, power, education, healthcare.

Even within the ideologically activated minorities, religion, which is supposedly the essence, often counts for little. Lots of Zionists eat pork. Half of Israelis are secular. Herzl was an atheist as were many founding fathers of the movement. Zionism is a religious project?

Zionism and Islamism are political projects of ideologically activated minorities. They are not exclusive representations of their communities. An attack on Zionism or Islamism is not an attack on Jews or Muslims any more than an attack on George W. Bush is an attack on America. It could certainly seem that way, from an ideologist's point of view, someone who likes to see their project as the "sole legitimate representative" of their community. And it could certainly be an effective political strategy for such an ideologist to claim that an attack on their ideology is an attack on the whole community, but, it isn't.

It would be "an attack on a form of Americanism/Judaism/Islam", but, that is a trivial claim - when someone is accused of being anti-Semitic or Islamophobic, the implication is that the person hates something fundamental to being a Jew or a Muslim, not that they oppose a particular doctrine or project supported by some Jews or some Muslims.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

I think the usage of word "ideology" is what distinguishes my views from yours.

I understand an ideology to be a system of abstract thought applied to public matters; in that sense political Islam or Zionism are ideologies.

However, in my opinion, behind those systems of abtract thought stand the universal religion of Islam and the particular religion of Judaism.

Without them, these ideologies and their apperal to actual human beings cannot be understood.

And one has to be very careful in what one brings to bear in way of criticism of these political movements, lest one falls into a religious war.

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