The Egyptian people have finally awakened to the reality of decades of oppression, dictatorship, backwardness and extreme poverty. For now, they are united in viewing Hosni Mubarak as the one obstacle to their freedom and democracy – but will they finally take responsibility for the true reason behind the long line of tyrannical Egyptian regimes? Will they examine their own failures and contributions to their problems? Or will they continue to blame America for supporting their dictator? Will they reject victimhood status and stop finger-pointing? Will they finally join the rest of the world in a new era of friendship based on mutual respect and not based on tribalism and the “us against the West” mentality?
The idea that America is behind the Mubarak dictatorship is ludicrous, but it has become a slogan not only in the Arab world, but also among many Americans. Chris Matthews of MSNBC has repeatedly blamed America for the Mubarak dictatorship. I have news for Mr. Matthews: only 3 men have ruled Egypt since 1952. Gamal Abdel Nasser was much more oppressive than Mubarak and he was certainly no friend to the US or to any other Western country. The fact is that Egyptians, and the Arab countries in general, have continually installed their own dictators, without America’s influence. America can only hope and encourage dictators who are not bellicose and who do not hate the US.
The majority of Arab dictators have been enemies of the West. The US never supported Al Assad of Syria, either father or son, nor Mohmar Gadhafi of Lybia, and yet they are brutal dictators. The West needs to understand that there is something intrinsic in Islamic culture that creates animosity with the West and it has nothing to do with what the West does or does not do. Every Muslim leader who aspires to gain popularity will be guaranteed it if he gives a speech calling America the “Great Satan.” Ahmadinejad’s popularity skyrocketed in Egypt after insulting the American president on American soil in his speech in New York. It is a litmus test in the Arab world that a truly loyal Muslim leader must automatically be an enemy of the West.
This is not a coincidence. Sharia (Islamic) law obliges the Muslim head of state to do violent jihad against non-Muslim countries and never truly befriend them or treat them as equals. Muslim leaders often hide their friendship with the West, and it is time for us and for the Arab world to openly ask: why? Why is it that befriending Western nations will brand them as “puppets of the US,” the one description no Arab leader can survive? To avoid the devastating title of “US puppet” Muslim leaders go to great lengths to appear harsh and critical of the West when, in fact, they really want co-existence. They end up having the well-known two faces of the typical Muslim leader: a friendly one to the West in private, and a critical one in public. That game must be exposed for what it is and it must end.
For some in the American media to take the Egyptian uprising as an opportunity to blame America for the Mubarak regime is not only wrong and untrue, but unfair to both Egypt and the US. This cheap-shot propaganda will not help the Egyptian people move beyond the blame-game, which they have perfected over many generations, and which keeps them in their miserable state. If anything, the Egyptian people today need to see reality and take responsibility. They must critically examine the real causes that turned a great ancient civilization into such a mess.
I hope that the blame-American crowd would for once – please – put aside internal bickering. By blaming America, you are neither helping the Egyptian people, nor helping your own country. You are perpetuating Arab psychology of refusing to take responsibility for one’s own failures. Arabs must take responsibility for their own homegrown dictatorships, terrorists and jihadists. The West needs to tell the truth resolutely: the Muslim world needs enormous reforms at all levels, politically, socially, legally and religiously. Blaming the West for Islamic failure will not bring Egypt or any other Muslim country freedom or democracy.
It is time for the Arab world to take responsibility for its failings; it is not the West, it is not even Arab dictators. If Arabs want to pursue freedom, then they must undergo tremendous change. They must seek peace with the rest of the non-Muslim world, and start a new relationship based on respect for human rights and tolerance of other cultures.
As it stands now, the Muslim world clings to a hatred of other ways of life. The Islamic view of non-Muslim countries as “dar-Al Harb,” or “land of war,” and Muslim countries as “dar-Al Islam,” is really at the core of this divide. If the Muslim world is to have any peace, democracy, and stability, it must reject archaic and oppressive Sharia law which perpetuates jihad and obligates Muslim heads of state to engage in permanent war with non-Muslim countries.
The Arab world needs the help of the whole world to see this reality. This can only come by stating the truth. Egyptians and Muslims in general must realize that to have democracy, they must have secular rule, separation of mosque and state, fair education, peace with Israel and an end to hate and demagoguery.
The world is waiting to embrace a new era and a new relationship with the Muslim world.
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