This has been a victory year for political Islam. Earlier this year the revolutions sweeping through the region seemed encouragingly modern and secular. But where courageous people stood up for their rights and toppled long standing regimes in the Middle East, free democratic elections brought Islamic parties to power.
Relying on years of charity, Islamic organizations used their networks to win landslide victories in elections in Egypt and Tunisia. As conservative analysts predicted, those bright semi-Westernised youngsters, organizing their revolution in Tunisia and Egypt on their mobile phones and Facebook, did not convert overnight into Guardian-reading democrats and BBC-watching secularists.
In the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, the Islamic bloc made of the Muslim Brotherhood and the even harder-line Salafist party Al-Nour, won more than 60% of the votes. The liberal secular bloc won only 13% of the votes. This is what the “Spirit of Tahrir Square’’ looks like when it’s put to a vote: In the world’s largest Arab nation, the forces of sharia and jihad are winning in a landslide.
The rise of radical Islam throughout the region is bad news to moderate Muslims as well as Christians in the area. While liberal elements are wiped out, Christians suffer increasing persecution.
Are we seeing a rerun of the revolution in Iran – where charismatic Islamic leader toppled the Shah only to create a grimly tyrant Islamic regime? Current leader in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, sure sees the resemblance hailing the Arab Spring as guided by Islam and calling on Muslims worldwide to rally to the Islamic cause.
While Islam has its varieties, mainly Sunni vs. Shiite followings, Global Jihad is a common goal to Muslims everywhere. Anyone who is not a Muslim is an obstacle in the path to global Islamic domination. This situation puts Christians in the Middle East and North Africa in the most vulnerable position in centauries.
About 100 million Christians worldwide are suffering persecution and thousands die in religious conflicts. The biggest number of persecutions against Christians is taking place in the countries of Africa and the Middle East. Over the last year, Christians have fled from Libya following the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime. In Tunisia, where the previous government advocated religious tolerance, under the current government a number of Christian churches were seized and turned into mosques.
Western countries have significant power. The US provides crucial aid to Egypt. Nato enabled the fall of Gaddafi in Libya. This aid should be used as leverage to ensure freedom is maintained and Sharia law is not implemented. African leaders which share similar values should be supported and coached on the path to creating stable democratic societies. The relationship between the US and Uganda is a good example of mutual interests in the war against terror which led to close overall cooperation.
Stable democratic societies are not created over night. If we do not want to see the Middle East and Africa fall prey in the hands of radical Islam and Sharia law we need to work with current leaders and promote reforms to enable freedom without jeopardizing minorities.
Roni Drukan is the co-founder of Giyus.org, a pro Israeli online diplomacy group. A contributor to several news sites, she is also known as Israeligirl to her blog readers and social media friends where she shares news and views about the Middle East and the war between moderates and radicals that’s impacting us all. She can be contacted at [email protected].