הנה מכתב שקיבלתי מכאמל בן סאלם, שמאמר שלו – על קשר אפשרי שהוא
מציע בין תיאור בריאת העולם בקוראן לבין מה שאירע בפועל – פורסם בעבר באתר זה.
לנוכח האירועים האחרונים במולדתו של כאמל, הנה מכתבו ככתבו וכלשונו.
I have just received the assessment by a friend, of the latest events in Tunisia. Therefore, I personally felt it useful to communicate it to some colleagues.
I wish you a good reading.
With best regards :
Kamel BEN SALEM
Professeur d'Analyse des Données
Département des Sciences de l'Informatique
Faculté des Sciences de Tunis
2092 El Manar II – Tunisie.
E-mail : Kamel.firstname.lastname@example.org
The uprising in Tunisia started more than a month ago, after the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed college graduate who burned himself alive to protest police confiscation of his small fruit and vegetable stand.
The White House remained quiet about the situation in Tunisia almost until the end, although police had by then killed dozens of peaceful protesters. It wasn't until Mr. Ben Ali was over the Mediterranean that Mr. Obama applauded "the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people." This face-saving statement came just two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that Washington was not taking sides.
The French position was similar, although with the twist that Nicolas Sarkozy's government offered to send anti-riot police to help crush the uprising. After learning that Mr. Ben Ali had fled, Mr. Sarkozy had a change of heart, refusing asylum to the dictator.
To understand why some Western governments send such contradictory messages, we must understand that the U.S. and French governments have always favoured the status quo in the Arab world, mainly for fear that Islamists might win if fair and transparent elections were held.
For example, in late 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front won the majority of votes in the first round of Algeria's legislative election. Fearing what would happen if Islamists took power, the military junta cancelled the process and took control of the country, with the blessing of the U.S. and French governments. The direct consequence was a horrifying civil war that killed more than 100,000 people.
A more recent and vivid example was when Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election. to the surprise of many in the West. By election observer Jimmy Carter's admission, the voting was "completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence."
Algerians and Palestinians did not vote for these Islamist parties because of their sharia-inspired platforms or anti-Israel rhetoric – they voted for them because they were thirsty for change. These parties were the main opposition to the regimes in place, and voters saw a chance to see their governments run more honestly.
It was remarkable that despite Western support for Mr. Ben Ali's dictatorship, no anti-Western slogans were heard from the Tunisian protesters. To them and other Middle Easterners, the real enemies are absence of freedom, high unemployment, corruption, nepotism and favouritism. Most importantly, they wanted their voices to be heard.
The United States and France should revaluate their strategies in the region, and contemplate whether the threat of Islamism is real or imagined. Turkey could serve as a positive example: Although it has been ruled by an Islamist party for most of a decade, its relationship with the West has remained close and collegial. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rise to power did not happen in vacuum. Turkish people saw honesty and integrity in Mr. Erdogan when he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s. Most importantly, he delivered the goods.
Time will tell whether Washington and Paris have learned any lessons from Tunisia. I have my doubts. A day before Mr. Ben Ali fled the country, Ms. Clinton was shaking hands with the dictator of another Middle Eastern country, Yemen, hoping that he could counter the rise of al-Qaeda in his country. Two days later, she lectured Arab leaders in Doha about the need to eliminate corruption and autocratic rule. I am not sure whether Mrs. Clinton was aware of the complex, contradictory messages she was sending.
With the Egyptian revolution, it becomes clear that the Tunisian experience can be replicated in other Arab countries (will it be Yemen, Algeria or Lybia?). Indeed, the fact remains that popular dissatisfaction with these regimes is growing. Western governments can no longer ignore the will of those who want to replace these unjust rulers. Unless serious, immediate steps are taken to address the political and economic situations in this part of the world, unrest could spread – and the results will be unpredictable.