Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why the struggles in the MIddle East won't bring freedom - freedom of religion as a necessary to have freedom

History is a stubborn thing. While many try to make history, and occasionally some do, it tends to go back to the status quo. As in science we find that all things tend towards entropy, so it is in history.

Countries in the Middle East have sought freedom many times. However, democracy and real freedom has always struggled just to get a foothold.

The Shah of Iran ruled the country from 1941 until he was overthrown in 1979. The people wanted freedom from dictatorship. The problem was that the overthrow was caused by radical religionists, lead by the Ayatollah. Rather than setting up a free nation with full elections and a voice to the people, they replaced a secular dictatorship with a religious dictatorship. Thirty years after the Islamist radicals took control in Iran, many people marched in the streets for real freedoms. They were crushed by tanks, and the status quo of tyranny continues.

Beirut, Lebanon was considered the Paris of the Middle East. It encouraged most religions, including Christianity to prosper. However, as radical Palestinians, Hezbollah, and other religious factions took control, the booming economy collapsed into chaos, and then into dictatorship. Portions of Lebanon have been controlled by Syria, Israel,and Islamic radicals. But it has not been able to fully regain its freedom and ability toward self-determination, as radical Islamists have clashed with Christians within its borders and with Jews across national boundaries.

In the 1980s, the Afghans fought to kick Russia out of their country. The Soviet Union entered to establish a presence, but also to stabilize a rocky country on their border. Radical Islamic beliefs helped the Afghans succeed against the Russians, but did not deliver freedom. Instead, women were forced into their homes and out of society, where some had been teachers, doctors, and equals. They supported terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda, who believed in radical Islam as they did. Even today, the battle goes on between those desiring freedom and those who would re-establish tyranny. Because of the radical religious and political views, we even struggle with President Karzai, who allows his brother to be a drug kingpin, and is forced to deal with regional warlords. History goes against Afghanistan ever being a peaceful democracy.

The same goes with Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. If the moderate Saud family is ever overthrown, Saudi Arabia will be governed by religious fanatics, who will not support true democracy, but only a radical version of Islam.

In Egypt, many of the leaders of the current revolution are the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a trans-national organization that seeks an Islamist Middle East. They will not be interested in maintaining peace with Israel, and possibly not with the United States. Their radical version of Islam will possibly rob women of their rights as Sharia law replaces Mubarak's dictatorship. Tyranny will replace tyranny. There will not be any true freedom, because radical religion will get in the way.

This is no different than Christianity was a millennium ago. Kings and dictators used religion to promote their intolerances. Crusades, Indulgences, and Inquisitions were tools for dictators to maintain control of the peasantry. No one had a voice, except the few in power. Back then, one sought freedom by moving somewhere else. The discovery of the Americas to Europe opened the door for many to escape persecutions and establish freedom. It required the radical concepts of freedom of speech and religion being inculcated into the Constitution of the United States and other key documents in western nations that have opened the door for real and lasting freedom.

Unless moderate Muslims step up and take control of these new revolutions, they will just replace one form of dictatorship with another. And unless they allow for freedom of speech and religion, there can be no real freedom for anyone in the Middle East or elsewhere.

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