Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The only thing worth reading in the New York Times

I may not always agree with Thomas Friedman, but I always find him interesting. I am reading The World is Flat currently. This article says a lot about the importance of democracy in Iraq.

"The Iraqi election was a total shock to the militant jihadist forces in the Arab-Muslim world," Mr. Stock noted. "They warned Iraqis that 'you vote - you die,' and instead millions of Iraqis said back to them, 'We vote - we decide.' " And the thing they are deciding on is not to be pro-American, not to be pro-Western, but to try to build their own Arab society in a way that will be open to modernism and interpretations of Islam that encourage innovation, adaptation and progress.

The jihadist forces hate this notion. They see the struggle for democracy in Iraq as anathema to everything they stand for: a literalist interpretation of Islam, unsullied by modernity, adaptation, women's rights or political and religious pluralism.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born jihadist behind much of the Iraq violence, spelled it all out in his declaration last January. Democracy must be opposed, he said, because it is based "on the right to choose your religion," and that is "against the rule of God." He added: "Oh, people of Iraq, where is your honor? Have you accepted oppression of the Crusader harlots?"

Zarqawi and his Saudi and Egyptian allies are trying to defeat America and its allies in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, but Zarqawi & Co. are losing - and they know it.

Having lost the argument with their own community, and unable to offer any program, the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadists seem to have become totally unhinged, with people becoming suicide bombers at the rate of three and four a day.

The jihadists "know that if democracy comes to this part of the world, the Zarqawis and their ilk are done," Mr. Stock said. "Because the majority of people do not buy their methods or most of their message. They don't want to live like the Taliban. If democracy manages to spread in the Arab world, it will not necessarily be pro-American, but it will definitely be pro-living, not pro-suicide. It will not be a cult of death, but a culture of life." A recent cover of a popular Egyptian magazine, Rose el-Youssef, Mr. Stock noted, shows two well-known female Arab pop singers under the headline: "Stronger than Extremism."

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