Saturday, May 28, 2005

ISLAM: Put the Islamists in power

To understand this evolution, one must look at how the Islamists rose to such prominence. Autocratic regimes in the Middle East have for decades allowed little public space to those who would build civil societies; no freedom of speech, assembly or association. The only space for people to congregate without harassment by the secret police was the mosque. Thus, unwittingly, the autocrats contributed to the growth of the theocrats and this gradually produced the violent extremist elements. Taking advantage of the rulers' economic and political failures, the theocrats made compelling cases for their own visions. And through their great efforts in providing services to the poor, they evolved first into de facto social workers and then into local politicians - of whom some have grown into rabid extremists espousing hatred and mass killings like the Taliban and the al-Qaeda.

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