Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
“Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent advocate of nonviolent dissent brought a largely nonviolent reaction among Shiites in the Middle East,” the Christian Science Monitor reported.
The CSM was describing the violent attack on Saudi embassies after the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who had called for an Iranian invasion of Saudi Arabia, war on America and the destruction of Israel. The magazine described the following rocket attack on the Saudi embassy in Baghdad and the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran as a “relatively peaceful reaction” that affirmed “Islam as a religion of peace.” If this was a “relatively peaceful reaction”, what would a violent reaction look like?
The wildly dishonest claim that the Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr was “nonviolent” pervaded the media.
New York Magazine claimed that Nimr al-Nimr had “preached nonviolence”. CSM insisted that Nimr was “the voice for peaceful protests by Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiites”. In reality he was considered a fringe figure even by Saudi Shiites, many of whom were wary of being associated with him.
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s brand of nonviolence was surprisingly violent.
The Saudis only took the Iranian agent into custody after a car chase and a shootout. The arrest itself came after Nimr al-Nimr had called for the deaths of every member of the ruling dynasties of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and suggested Iranian intervention in Saudi Arabia.
Nimr al-Nimr had also endorsed Iranian attacks on America and Israel. He sought to build a “Righteous Opposition Front” to fight the Saudis. He cried, “We do not fear death, we long for martyrdom.”
That is a very strange definition of nonviolence.
“Iran has the right to close the Straits of Hormuz, to destroy the Zionist enemy, and to strike at American bases and American interests anywhere,” Nimr al-Nimr had insisted.
The preacher of nonviolence preached violence and his arrest was followed by violent threats and protests by Shiites across the region. These facts however have been lost on the left.
Eurocrat Federica Mogherini condemned Nimr’s execution, saying, “The specific case of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr raises serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and the respect of basic civil and political rights.”
Neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran have freedom of expression or civil and political rights. But then neither does the EU. The Saudis, Iranians and Europeans all arrest people for burning Korans. The youngest of those arrested for blasphemy against Islam in Europe was a 15-year-old British schoolgirl.
Perhaps when Eurocrats stop arresting 15-year-old schoolgirls for blasphemy against Islam, Federica will have some credibility when getting shirty with the Saudis about freedom of expression and civil rights.
Saudi Arabia suppresses its Shiite minority. Iran suppresses its Sunni minority. Both arm and train the minority populations in other countries as proxy armies, whether it’s Iran in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, or Saudi Arabia in Syria, Iran and Iraq, to undermine each other in exactly this way.
The Saudis put down Nimr al-Nimr for advocating Iranian intervention in Saudi Arabia. His Iranian masters would have had no hesitation in executing an Iranian Sunni who had called for Saudi intervention in Iran. Both countries are totalitarian Islamist states that are at war with each other.
Like Nimr al-Nimr, both are violently dishonest hypocrites who speak about peace when they mean war.
Nimr al-Nimr was one of many players in this regional civil war. There is no reason for us to take sides in it or to romanticize the Jihadists of either side as courageous rebels or civil rights activists.
Both sides hate each other and us. They complain about tyranny, but aspire to grind their opponents into the dirt. They object to repression that they would gladly visit on each other.
None of them are democratic or secular, let alone nonviolent.
The media propaganda painting Nimr al-Nimr as a peaceful activist marks the shift of the left from an alignment with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Spring to Shiite Iran with the nuclear deal. The left is not choosing Shiites over Sunnis for religious reasons, but because the Muslim Brotherhood has become irrelevant and Iran’s Shiite butchers have become the bad boys of Islam all over again.
And the left loves its Islamist bad boys just as it loved the Bolshevik bad boys of the USSR, and Fidel Castro with his cigar and Che with his beret. It’s not civil rights that attract the left, but murder.
As 1984’s Oceania moved from always being at war with Eurasia to Eurasia, the left shifts from celebrating the “secular” Sunni Jihadists fighting against Shiite rule in Syria to Nimr al-Nimr, a “nonviolent” Shiite Jihadist fighting against Sunni rule in Saudi Arabia.
It’s telling that the media’s accounts of Nimr al-Nimr are indistinguishable from the Russian pro-Iranian propaganda put out by RT. The media ridicules Putin’s political lickspittles, but sounds exactly like them. Since Obama went full Shiite, our media echoes Iranian propaganda just like Putin’s press does.
Behind this hollow charade is the collapse of American power. Iran is the main beneficiary of that collapse. With Nimr’s death, the Saudis sent a message to Tehran. And with the attacks on Saudi embassies, Tehran and its Baghdad puppet sent a message right back to Riyadh.
While the left plays human rights activists, a regional war is underway. And it isn’t the nonviolent kind of war. The Russians at least understand the terms of this conflict. The American left, which goes from Sunni to Shiite, from Muslim Brotherhood to IRGC, like the cheapest whore in the region, does not understand what is going on and does not care. It is motivated by a twisted combination of narcissism and malice with very little regard for regional events as anything but a background for its egotism.
For the Sunnis and Shiites, this conflict is about a complex mess of tribal and religious tensions going back over a thousand years. For the left, it’s another way to stick a thumb in the eye of America.
For men like Nimr al-Nimr, it’s a holy war. For the American left, it’s still about sticking it to daddy. The architecture of foreign policy is a baroque maze of rationalizations built around that primal impulse.
This narcissistic indulgence in other people’s wars without understanding them carries its own price.
The Arab Spring killed plenty of people so that leftist activists could feel good about themselves. A regional holy war in which both sides have nukes will make that death toll seem like a nostalgic memory.
Backing the Muslim Brotherhood was a choice that came with terrible consequences. Backing Nimr al-Nimr is also a choice. It’s a choice that should not be cloaked in false claims of nonviolence or peace.
It’s a choice to intervene on the Shiite side in a regional holy war with everything that implies.
The left dragged us into an illegal war in Libya for the Muslim Brotherhood leading to the murder of four Americans in Benghazi. We should be wary of letting the left drag us into any more of its dirty wars.
Behind every oppressed Muslim minority in the Middle East, whether it’s the Shiites of Saudi Arabia or the “Palestinians” of Israel, is a major state sponsor of terror. The familiar narrative of repression, secret police and political protests conceals the deeper truth of covert wars between major regional powers. Sunni and Shiite Islamists both want to impose their absolute totalitarian rule on the region. Aspiring tyrants are no more heroes than successful ones. Nimr al-Nimr didn’t want to end theocracy in Saudi Arabia. He wanted to replace Sunni theocracy with Shiite theocracy, repression with repression.
Too many people were fooled by the Arab Spring. Let’s not let ourselves be fooled all over again.