“You can find various editions of Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in any modest sidewalk bookstand, but you won’t find John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government or Plato’s Republic in Cairo’s biggest bookstores. (And if you do, it will be either in English or an unreadable Arabic translation.) Meantime, Islamist teaching is ubiquitous in schools and mosques, on bumper-stickers and YouTube videos. […]
Islamism will not die out in the face of free voting or economic liberalism or Twitter. It is one of the most formidable ideologies in history, the success of which does not depend on electoral bribes or the ignorance of the average voter. Rather, it stands on thousands of books containing the wisdom of one of the greatest civilizations in history. It comprises serious ideas and ideals that, although they might be diametrically opposed to those of the West, are no less compelling. Most important, Islamism runs on millions of dedicated adherents who are willing to endure imprisonment, exile, unspeakable torture, and even death to uphold what they deem right.
Amr Bargisi, a liberal Egyptian activist, in a must-read piece at Tablet Magazine with the depressing title “An Egyptian Democrat Gives Up.” Particularly important in my view are Bargisi’s comments on the misconceptions that dominate so much of Western reactions to the rise of Islamists – and yes, to my great delight, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gets mentioned, too… As I’ve argued before, Islamists are not the Muslim equivalent of Europe’s Christian Democrats.
Anyone interested in additional reading should check out Sohrab Ahmari’s critical take on “The Failure of Arab Liberals” in the May issue of Commentary Magazine (which may be accessible for free only for a limited time).