For many years, every time a regime has changed in that part of the world, it was for the worst. The local autocrats didn’t respect human rights or advance democracy, but at least tried to some extent to emulate the western social evolution in relation to secularization of the state, respect for all religions and advancement of women’s rights.
After the recent changes, countries like Iraq and Libya went back to the dark ages of fanatic religious sects and tribal fighting, Tunisia and now Egypt are fighting for survival against extremism, Syria descended into the hell of civil war and may bring Lebanon with it, Algeria, Jordan and Morocco are struggling for reform. The Gulf States are on the razor’s edge, on one side they are police states that bribe their citizens into quietness and on the other they suffer the blackmail of extremists, religious and other, who bleed their treasury in return for sparing them the mass demonstrations that led to revolt elsewhere.
The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and their brethren in other Arab countries is unsurprisingly taking over from the former despots and creating new ones, none the better than before. Morsi and his fellow Islamists are bent on creating a regime without any checks and balances, betting on the ignorant religious fervour of the masses to swallow it all. No courts, no participation of Christians (mostly Copts, who are the original Egyptians, those from before the Arab/Islamic invasion), non-participation of seculars or liberals in the writing of a new constitution. Another kind of caliphate in the making and the West is considering financing it.
Financing these regimes, there like elsewhere, is for no use and to no avail. In Afghanistan, the theft of almost one billion dollars led to the collapse of its largest bank. A brother of the President and a brother of his vice president were shareholders in the bank and it is obvious whose pockets were lined with the bounty, but they have not been charged with any wrongdoing. Instead, a few straw men are being tried, just for the sake of throwing sand into the eyes of the naive westerners who are propping up one more utterly corrupt regime.
There are many other examples of stupidity meeting extremism.
Some pea-brained bigots, of whatever persuasion, in one of the boondoggles frequent in the wastelands of America, made a worthless film about Muhammad, considered a prophet by the followers of Islam. Other pea-brained bigots, Islamists this time, used the film as an excuse to go on rampage against everything American or western, killing in the process several diplomats and other innocents, considered expendable by the organizers of the demonstrations.
In America’s hinterland, moronic televangelists and assorted preachers can sometimes compete in religious fanaticism, racist and bigot intolerance, with the Islamic sects. The major difference is in scale. Although some of those fanatics can actually kill, as they have already assassinated doctors who performed abortions, they have not reached the scale of massacre, the use of suicide bombers and attacks against women just for attending school, as seen in other parts of the world.
Fanaticism, the product of ignorance, poverty or cultural isolation, is a deadly threat to global human development. Unfortunately, it reaches even the developed countries where some of these communities live, or to where they emigrated or where they took refuge. Fanaticism does not accept or even understand the basic rules of civilized social life: that all people deserve respect, independently of race or sex, religion or lack of it, as well as their right to freedom in their life choices and opinions. Immigrant communities must respect the laws of the countries where they chose freely and sometimes illegally, to live in.