As I watched the Iranian uprising on TV, I could not help but remember the many years of demonstrations by Iranians against the Shah which ended in the 1979 revolution. The Shah regime was accused of being a puppet of the West, corrupt and not Muslim enough. The people of Iran then installed one of the most radical and cruel regimes in modern Middle East history. The Iranian Islamist movement negatively impacted the whole region and empowered radical Muslim groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Wahhabi Saudi sect.
Now, Iranians are having another uprising. What do they really want? A less Islamist and more modern regime? Wasn’t that what they had before? Do they want a Western style democracy where they can peacefully vote out a corrupt leader? But is that allowed under Islamic Law? It surely is not because under Sharia a Muslim head of state can hold office through a violent seizure of power. So who can tell a Muslim leader who seized office through a coup or an assassination that he is wrong? Such a coup will especially be popular among Islamists if the assassinated leader was friendly with the West.
There are parallels in almost all Muslim countries, especially in Egypt, where the dreaded label ‘America’s puppet’ can get a non-Islamist leader assassinated. The complaint of being a puppet of America can merely describe a Muslim leader who refuses to be the enemy of the West and to engage in jihad. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and his successor Husni Mubarak until today are called ‘puppets of America’ for that reason. Before them, the revolution leader President Gamal Abdel Nasser ousted the Egyptian King Farouk on the grounds that he was a puppet of the British. The story keeps repeating itself in Muslim countries where many leaders end up with a dilemma. On the one hand, to win respect and fear of the Arab street, they must stand against Western interests and peace with Israel (i.e. Nasser, Assad of Syria and Ahmadinejad). On the other hand, several regimes try to hold the stick from the middle and allow hate speech against America and Israel in their media while in private have mutual respect and cooperation with the West and Israel.
The problem of the constant political turmoil and restlessness in Muslim countries is rooted in Islamic Law, which does not allow democracy while dictating violent jihad as one of the main duties of the Muslim head of state against non-Muslim lands. According to Islam, Muslims must live in an Islamic State ruled by Sharia. The Muslim leader must preserve Islam in its original form and prevent any change or ‘bidaa,’ meaning any new idea. The hostile and unfriendly relationship between Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries is clearly stated in Muslim scriptures. That leaves Muslims and Muslim leaders who want to follow their religion in a dilemma; to make peace with the non-Muslim world and violate one’s religion or be in a constant state of war with the West and Israel and be faithful to one’s religion.
Until this dilemma is settled Muslims will live in constant turmoil. Such turmoil affects the rest of the world and the option for the West is either to support leaders who are friendly with the West and subject them to assassination or allow tyrannical regimes to engage in jihad against Israel and the West and hope for the best.
he choice for the West is often not between good and bad but between bad and worse. It is either the current Saudi royal family or a Wahhabi hostile government; or president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt or the Muslim Brotherhood.
The turmoil in the Muslim world has only just begun.