National

Arab World is changing fast

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New Delhi: On 5 February 2011, Milli Gazette editor Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan delivered a thought-provoking lecture at the Conference Room of Jamaat-e Islami Hind in New Delhi, on the fast changing situation in the “Middle East.” Speaking on the recent popular Arab uprising, he said that the upheaval began in Tunisia almost immediately in the wake of unfortunate suicide of a young man Bu-Azizi, who in spite of being a computer engineer, was unemployed and therefore compelled to be a grocery seller on footpath. On 17, December 2010, when scolded and slapped by a policewoman, in a fit of anguish, he went to the main square of the city, poured petrol on himself and set himself on fire. This was the fire that all of a sudden engulfed Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and spread to other areas of the Arab world.

Talking about the backdrop of this uprising, Dr. Khan mentioned the Sykes-Picot regime which was imposed on Arab people after World War I by the British and French conspirators who  had entered into a secret pact for one single land with three different parties because in the first world war Turkish Ottoman Caliphate had sided with Germany. In order to destroy the Ottomans, the British entrapped Sharif Husain of Makka and convinced him to revolt against the Ottomans. As a reward, he was promised to be made the “king of Arab”. On the other hand, they entered into a pact with France to divide this Arab land between themselves. Simultaneously, they promised Arab Palestine to be given to Jews if they too helped them out during the war. In history this promise to the Jews is called as Balfour Declaration.  

Dr Khan said that the terms: Middle East, Far East and Near East are misnomers which denote a colonial mentality because Arabs call this region by the name of “Arab world” or “Arab home land”. This vast land area is divided into two parts: Eastern (Mashriq) and Western (Maghrib).

The meeting-point of the two was Palestine before 1948 (now Israel). When Israel was implanted in the Arab heartland, the ground route between the two Arab flanks was closed. The divided, shattered and weak Arab countries are being ruled by despotic, cruel and ruthless rulers who are looting national wealth and depriving their people of their social, political and religious freedoms and human rights and dignity, he said.

Dr. Khan opined that the two basic factors which played a leading role in this Arab upheaval are: Aljazira satellite channel based in Qatar, which is viewed across the Arab world and gained much popularity during the past decade and the second is Internet. Revolutionary forces are using both these tools very successfully.

Regarding Libya, Dr Khan said that when Mummar Gaddafi came to power by a coup in 1969 being a demagogic leader he was very popular but in his political strides eventually he destroyed every civil institution in the country and created a state of anarchy.

In reply to a question about the prospects of this popular uprising in the near future particularly for Islamists, he said that the objectives of this revolution are not yet fulfilled, the process is going on and it will take time. As far as Islamists are concerned, they are not going to be in power, but certainly in the changed scenario they will gain politically, much like others. As in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood is now in the process of launching its own political party. In Tunisia, Rashid Ghannouchi, the exiled Islamist leader and ideologue of Al-Nahda Party returned after some 25 years and his party will be a part of the new government.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 5

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