- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On January 22, 2012
- 42 Comments
Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth says in the group’s annual report that the past year’s Arab Spring uprisings across the region have shown it is vital for the West to end its policy of backing ‘an array of Arab autocrats’ in exchange for supporting Western interests. So far so good.
But then the organisation and Roth fall for the same old affliction of the post-modernist left, which is that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Therefore, according to this sad piece of logic (or lack thereof) if the Islamists replace the bad autocrats, then they must be good. Really?
He says: ‘The international community must … come to terms with political Islam when it represents a majority preference, he said. ‘Islamist parties are genuinely popular in much of the Arab world, in part because many Arabs have come to see political Islam as the antithesis of autocratic rule.’
I beg to differ. Even if a majority prefers something, it doesn’t necessarily make it good and right, nor does it mean that the new option is the ‘antithesis of autocratic rule’. Islamism is also autocratic and in many places supported by the West.
And the reality is very different. A majority don’t support Islamism unless you believe that people like to have their rights and freedoms limited and are different human beings from those sitting in the plush Human Rights Watch offices.
It isn’t rocket science to understand that after autocratic rule and the suppression of dissent and banning of political parties, it is impossible for secular forces and those representing the true spirit of the ‘Arab Spring’ to organise and win ‘elections’. It takes time for civil society to stand up again and have a real and visible presence. Also for elections to have meaning – even in the limited parliamentary sense – you need to have freedom of association, press, and expression and so on. If you hold ‘elections’ right after a dictatorship, and despite people (like in Egypt) demanding for it to be delayed, you create a situation where Islamists will come to power given their level of organisation, their access to power and the support they enjoy from reactionary forces and states in the region and elsewhere.
Roth says: ‘Wherever Islam-inspired governments emerge, the international community should focus on encouraging, and if need be pressuring, them to respect basic rights – just as the Christian-labelled parties and governments of Europe are expected to do’. Sounds fine but Christian labelled parties and governments in Europe are not calling for an inquisition and canon law. I’ve said this many times before but you cannot compare the two. Not because Christianity is any better but because it has been pushed back as a result of the enlightenment, making it possible to have Christian parties in secular societies. The same cannot be said about Islam. Islamic parties want to bring theocracy, sharia law and barbarity; they want an Islamic inquisition.
None of this surprises me of course. Human Rights Watch has always been a sucker for Islamism. It did everything it could to defend the ‘Reformists’ in Iran whilst they carried on killing and stoning people to death.
But isn’t it a bit embarrassing for a human rights organisation to defend Islamism and reduce its demand to ‘encouraging, and if need be pressuring them to respect basic rights’. Ah the racism of lower expectations.
Yes the sub-humans in the Middle East and North Africa don’t deserve the same rights and freedoms, do they Human Rights Watch?
It’s unfortunate (at least for them) that Press TV has lost its licence as Roth would fit in perfectly with Galloway and Booth in defending Islamism at all costs – particularly all human costs…
(Link via Marieme Helie Lucas)