By Joseph El-Khoury
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto did not come as a surprise. Since her return from exile to Pakistan in October, it was only a matter of time before she was maimed, silenced or annihilated. I found myself reacting in a similar way to the time I witnessed the last car bomb in Lebanon: A mixture of fear, anger and an intense desire to retaliate against those who justify violence in the name of divine inspiration. Leaving to one side the war on terror, the Bush administration and Capitalist globalization, I can’t help myself thinking that political Islam is in crisis and that the bloodshed on the back of chronic instability is the most obvious symptom of this crisis. I say this as an external observer since being a non-Muslim I cannot conceive of embracing political Islam as a solution to the problems of this world. Others clearly do! Nonetheless Muslims are not the only faith group in the Middle-East. Their majority status does not confer on them the right to impose a doctrine and a code of life that is alien to their compatriots. On the other hand and more importantly, Islamists do not accept geographic and ethnic limitations on their project. Political Islam is global or is not. To Bin Laden and friends everything else is short of apostasy and heretical belief. From their perspective whether you are Muslim or not is irrelevant and I am asked to make a choice under the threat of …beheading. Going back to the late Benazir and the martyrs of the Lebanese March 14th alliance what they have in common is death, overwhelming in its irreversibility. I am not tempted to ignore past accusation of corruptions just like I will not suddenly praise dead politicians that I despised in their lifetime. But what is unavoidable is that by dying these figures will occupy the moral high ground. A ground that Pervez Musharraf, the great survivor of Pakistani politics, will struggle to acquire. Same goes for the Hezbollah-led Lebanese opposition. Interestingly it is this same Hezbollah which originally acquired its privileged status through the martyrdom of its young men on the Israeli front which today denies this same treatment to its opponents in the Lebanese government.