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Pests in Freedom’s Way

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Here’s an excerpt from an excellent essay by Amir Taheri at The Australian, on the sometimes misguided, sometimes naïve, and sometimes just plain evil opponents of democracy: Pests in freedom’s way. (Hat tip: zulubaby.)

It is, of course, far too early to speak of an “Arab spring”.

It is not at all certain that the ruling elites will have the intelligence to manage the difficult transition from autocracy to pluralism. Nor is it certain that the budding democratic movement would produce a leadership capable of mixing resolve with moderation. The deep-rooted Arab tradition of political extremism may prove harder to dissipate than one imagines.

What is interesting is that there are, as yet, no signs that the “Western street” may, at some point, come out in support of the new “Arab street”.

Over the past two weeks several Western capitals, including London and Paris, have witnessed feverish activity by more than two dozen groups organising meetings and marches to mark the second anniversary of the liberation of Iraq. The aim is not to celebrate the event and express solidarity with the emerging Iraqi democracy, but to vilify George W. Bush and Tony Blair, thus lamenting the demise of Saddam Hussein.

I spent part of last week ringing up the organisers of the anti-war events with a couple of questions. The first: Would they allow anyone from the newly elected Iraqi parliament to address the gatherings? The second: Would the marches include expressions of support for the democracy movements in Arab and other Muslim countries, notably Iraq, Lebanon and Syria?

In both cases the answer was a categorical no, accompanied by a torrent of abuse about “all those who try to justify American aggression against Iraq”.

But was it not possible to condemn “American aggression” and then express support for the democratic movement in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world? In most cases we were not even allowed to ask the question.

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