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:: Issues > Political Islam Studies
Right and Left
Right and Left
Whoever follows up the Arab political life nowadays will find all liberal or leftist opposition movements in dire straits. The historical experience, of course, differs between Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait and Yemen.
Friday, August 8,2008 04:29
by Amr Hamzawi Al-Masrey Al-Youm

Whoever follows up the Arab political life nowadays will find all liberal or leftist opposition movements in dire straits. The historical experience, of course, differs between Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait and Yemen.

But a point of similarity between these countries is that the conflict over power is between the ruling elites and Islamist opposition forces.

The Islamists got around the ruling elites" suppression by building wide networks for social and preaching action through which they got involved in the political life. They took advantage of the Arabs" increasing obsession with religion.

Although such a matter is not covered by the non-religious opposition’s calculations, the Arab societies" reality theoretically gives liberals and leftists, at least, a number of opportunities for laying down political programs that look attractive for various sectors of citizens.

The liberals have a big opportunity for paying attention to the issues of public freedoms and continuous human rights violations and focusing on the meanings of citizenship that go beyond the limits of religion, race and gender.

The leftists also have ample chances for mass action based on social and economic differences and the absence of minimum equality from most Arab societies.

It is certain that the Islamists positively reacted to some of these ideas and got several positions relying on their good organization for defending human rights and social justice.

However, the final image of their action, especially with regard to the issues of freedoms, seems contradictory and lacks credibility.

Moreover, their visions of how to run the economic and social affairs are still obscure and unable to present a clear-cut reading of the limits of the state and public institutions" role in the face of individuals" responsibilities.

It seems that a mix of fears of the Islamists" rapid rise and doubts about the seriousness of their talk on reform and democracy caused some liberal and leftist opposition groups to adopt the option of seeking the refuge with the ruling elites that suppress the Islamists.

his may have also pushed them to ally with the ruling elites to ensure minimum presence in political life. Such practices did not give the liberals and leftists more opportunities for action, as they were exhausted by their rush to appease the oppressive ruling elites that are only concerned with staying in power.

Those practices also undermined their credibility in the eyes of large sectors of citizens that sympathize with the Islamists and see them as victims of a double conspiracy run by corrupt elites and non-religious liberal and leftist movements.

The time has come for the liberals and leftists to reconsider their positions and strategies if they want a way out of the plight of alliance with the ruling elites and seek to transcend the stage of limited benefits from this alliance against the Islamists.

When an Islamist faction turns into a force that exercises legitimate and peaceful political action and shows increasing flexibility towards the issues of civil and public freedoms and this coincides with the presence of ruling elites that don’t want to bring about a genuine democratic transformation, it becomes incumbent upon the liberals and leftists to search for areas of coordination and joint action with the Islamists.

But, if the Islamist movement fails to observe legitimate peaceful action, the liberal and leftist movements will have to politically face the Islamists without conniving with the dictatorial ruling elites or justifying repeated violations of freedoms and human rights.

 


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