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The basic problem is that Islamism has much deeper cultural roots than the other philosophies they want to compare it to. It is not an elitist vanguard philosophy like Communism. It is a genuinely rising popular movement that has widespread democratic support in the heart of the Islamic world. Why is that? That is the question

To me, there is a very simple answer to that question: Islamism is a very recent phenomenon that comes as a reaction to the corrupt dictatorships of the region and their dysfunctional relationship with the USA. Religion has been the only outlet for popular discontent, which is directed against each country's ruling elites and, indirectly, against the USA who are accused of propping them up and supporting their dictatorial ways, while pushing its liberal culture. Thus religion has acquired political (and social legitimacy) - but again, this is recent. You regularly get older Moroccans or other Arabs writing in French papers that many ofthe things that we take granted today in the Arab world today (veils, fatwas, the political prominence of religious leaders, religious police) simply did not exist in a number of places.


It assumes that somehow Islamist is an intellectual imposition and has not actually grown out of poor material conditions and that is someone be foisted on the people by a ruthless dictatorial elite. But the truth is right now somwhat the opposite. Islamism is genuinely popular, and Islamists are seen as the primary reformist force within the confines of Middle Eastern society, attacking the very corrupt and bankrupted dictatorial elite that is actually the carrier of 20th century European ideas which relate to communism and fascism.

It's been used by cunning leaders as a conduct to channel popular opposition to the "dicatorial and bankrupt elites". It is genuinely popular, simply because it is the only available alternative.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 2nd, 2006 at 07:14:39 AM EST

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