Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mecca becomes the shining city on the hill? 

One of the tragedies of George Bush's America is that, for much of the world, America is no longer the shining city on the hill. Along with increasing hostility toward America comes increasing skepticism that democracy is the alternative to dictatorship. Onlookers around the world could well come to believe that "democracy" is just a tricky way of stealing people's oil and then killing them -- after all, America brought "democracy" to Iraq and more than half a million Iraqis died.
But people living under a dictator's heel must have hope. And if American democracy now appears hostile and fake, then they will look elsewhere -- perhaps toward an ideology like Islamic fundamentalism.
Meteor Blades writes a very interesting piece about Libya and Muammar Gaddafi in which he notes a significant trend within the underground opposition to Gaddafi's dictatorship:
There is a growing religiosity . . . Women who had begun in the 1980s to give up the head coverings decreed by Libyan tradition now wear hijab everywhere, even on the university campus. And jimar, the veil, which was never a part of Libyan dress, is becoming ever more common. Women meet in homes to study the Koran, and the opposition is said to be more Islamist in its focus than in the past. For many, this move toward fundamentalism reflects similar moves in other dictatorships, a kind of under-the-surface opposition to the regime with dangerous potentialities.
Musa Kusa [Libyian foreign intelligence chief] once boasted that he knew every man with a beard in Libya, hinting that he knew whom to arrest if any opposition to the regime appeared. No more. Beards, a symbol of quiet resistance, can be seen everywhere.

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