So long, secularism in Tunisia.
Concerning the Tunisian elections, AP reports today that secularism appears to be in retreat there:
[A] once-banned Islamist party is leading in many constituencies in the country that unleashed uprisings across the Arab world.
But, AP assures us, Tunisia’s Islamist party is “moderate.” But isn’t a moderate Islamist party an oxymoron? According to AP, it’s not:
Tunisia was known for decades for its repressive leadership but also for its progressive legislation on women and families, which secular-leaning Tunisians fear the moderate Islamist party Ennahda would roll back.
In other words, the Arab Spring narrative is all fouled up. We want to believe that, in the Arab world, secular-supported authoritarianism, because it is antidemocratic, is bad while democracy—the will of the people expressed in elections—is good. But, when democracy actually kicks in, we find that what the masses of Arab people actually want is collective conformity to Islam. Then we are shocked to discover that this is quite atrocious for things like, well, women’s rights (and individualism of any sort, for that matter). The will of the ummah (the Islamic community) is not the will of the individual—especially the wills of feminists, non-Muslims, or secular individuals.
I don’t think this bodes well for where Egyptian elections are likely to trend, and what they’ll mean for the 9% of Egyptian society that is Christian (or the half that is female, or those who want to think freely in general). What we’re witnessing is a new Iron Curtain going up against Western Enlightenment secular values. I suppose we might call this Iron Curtain the Ummah Curtain.
Map source: Wikipedia Commons.