Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not totalitarian enough!

Nadeem Paracha points out that Islamic extremists turning against their allies and sponsors is not a new phenomenon. In recent history,
The most startling event in this respect took place in Saudi Arabia. ln 1979, an alarming incident occurred, which most history books across the Muslim realm have almost completely expunged from their pages.
This was the attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
All of them were followers of Abdul Azizi bin Baaz, who was Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti. Baaz had been highly critical of late King Faisal’s moderate reforms that had seen the setting up of the kingdom’s first television station. Faisal had also given conditional permission to the kingdom’s women to work in offices, even though the country remained an ultra-conservative Sunni Wahabi state.
After a long and bloody battle that cost 900 lives, Saudi forces took back the mosque.
Logically the Saudi regime was expected to launch a crackdown on fundamentalists after the tragedy, but it did what most Muslim regimes usually do in the face of a movement or insurgency by fundamentalists: i.e. it rolled back whatever few social reforms it had initiated and became even more subservient to the puritanical clergy.

And here is where most Muslim regimes and societies have faltered. Faced by pressure and violence from Islamists, many regimes in the Muslim world have historically tried to work out their survival by giving in to a number of regressive and myopic demands of the Islamists – something the current government and parliamentary opposition in Pakistan has only recently realised and attempted to rectify.

To me it seems that politics in Islamic countries always involves the "more pious than thou" card that trumps any other argument.