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.
Please find below a few comments on my post posted on a Syrian blog and my response to them:
'Well done Sasa, you are slowly mastering the fine art of sarcasm. I read his post earlier and I didn't know where to begin with disagreeing with him. He genuinely views things the way he writes, which I find mildly amusing'.
'Even M14 politicians aren't as pro-M14 as he is. Clinging on to the sinking ship'.
Well done Sasa for mastering the the fine art of sarcasm. It would have been even better if you had disagreed with me in my face. You would have been able to display your sarcasm and applied some basic democratic principles.
Let me remind you that out of those assassinated you wll find George Hawi, arch-enemy of Israel and founder of the National Resistance movement and Samir Kassir, pro-Arabist, Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Syria, but a democractic Syria, respectful of its own people and of the Lebanese.
And yes they were as brave than many of the Hezbollah resistance fighters.
I will not be responding to anymore comments on your blog. Your response is welcome on arabdemocracy. (and please bring Wassim with you)
You missed Pierre Gemayel, the facist. No, I think it is a shame that you compare legitimate resistance to occupation, with an opportunistic bandwagon movement.
Many of these politicians you seem to admire were so principled that they only became anti-Syrian when Syria left Lebanon. They followed the latest political trend for personal purposes. Do I need to give you a few of Walid Junbatt's quotes?
The biggest achievements of the goverment which you admire are stoking racism against the Palestinian, Syrian and Armenian minorities of Lebanon, and imprisoning Iraqi refugees.
It is embarrassing that you can compare a young man who is so angry that he takes a gun and fights against the world's most powerful army, with a politician who dumps his principles at the door for a seat in a single-issue government.
If you want to reply to this, you can leave a message on my blog and yours. I do check your blog, but I might miss the reply.
Whatever Bhutto's faults or strengths her murder is a disaster for Pakistanis who were cheated out of the democratic process for more blood flowing. Where is the moral high ground in such actions?
You clearly focused on some elements of my posts and ignored others. I did mention that I wont praise politicians that I despised in their lifetime but by dying they had acquired a status they might not have deserved before that(arent the killers to blame for that?). Gemayel is one of many but what about the two I spoke of earlier,do u know their history?yes I respected some and felt sorry for others. And anyway does any one deserve to be killed for their views?
I find it shocking that these accusations of racism get thrown around so comfortably when for many months on this blog we have clearly shown our support for the right of minorities whatever their status. Is this a sign of anti-Lebanese feelings on your part? or a denial of the tragic situation the Syrian people finds itself?
I would appreciate less hostility on your part and from other syrians.Maybe that would help better understanding of each other's perspective.
I'm sorry I didn't comment on your post Joseph. I just haven't got anything to say to you - you've got your side, I've got mine.
I am sorry to hear that you find it difficult to talk to the 'other side'whatever you mean by that.
Having discussions only with those that agree with you is of little value and I hope you will reconsider.
posted on Sasa's original post as well
I am regular reader to your blog, and I do admire your professionalism in communicating news related to our region, this is why I am really surprised/ disappointed by this post and your reply to Joe’s comment. In my view you used exactly the same style that you had criticized in a previous post 3 weeks ago. The monologue about 14th March is quite known and no one disagrees with that including Joe. I think neither sarcasm nor one-size-fits-all accusation helps to promote insightful discussions, which should be the main goal behind our blogs.
There is no need to feel sorry at all. It is just that your American values don't register with me as something to engage with. You think your "Arab" democracy is an alternative to something - I am that something.
If someone needs to engage, it is you with me.
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