within a few centuries – centuries, he stressed – they will learn how
mistaken they are
MEMRI Special Dispatch |5194|February 19, 2013
MEMRI President Yigal Carmon In Interview: The Arab Spring 'Is An Honorable
Journey For Which I Have The Utmost Respect'
In an interview published February 13, 2013 by The Times of Israel, MEMRI
founder and president Yigal Carmon said that he believes that the rise of
Islamism following the Arab Spring is just the beginning of the process of
change, pointing out that "Europe took hundreds of years" to reach
progressive values. Regarding the Islamists' hijacking of the Egyptian
revolution from its rightful liberal owners, he said that it is "morally
shameful and politically unwarranted for America to support elements that
take humanity backwards."
The following are excerpts from the interview:
"It Is Indeed An Arab Spring"; "They Have Begun Their Long Quest To Join
Humanity... An Honorable Journey For Which I Have The Utmost Respect"
In the interview, Mr. Carmon states: "People were warning us about the rise
of Islamism, but from day one my attitude was exactly the opposite... It is
indeed an Arab Spring, where people are fighting for freedom, putting their
lives on the line every day against dictatorship. There can be no other name
Emphasizing that it should not be concluded that the revolutions have failed
because Islamic regimes are winning elections across the region, he pointed
out that prior to the Arab Spring, the Middle East was "a frozen swamp of
repression, on every level." That freeze, he said, has been irretrievably
cracked by the groundswell of uprisings against those regimes, meaning that
the Arabs and Muslims are no longer "outside the world in its progress."
"They have begun their long quest to join humanity. This is an honorable
journey for which I have the utmost respect," he said.
"There Are No Shortcuts In History; Europe Took Hundreds Of Years" To Attain
Progressive Values; In The Arab World, The Struggle Among Elements Of
Societies Will Take Centuries
Of his critics who believe that the Arab Spring has taken a turn for the
worse, as Islamic regimes win election after election across the region, he
said that if these people had been around during the French Revolution and
the Reign of Terror, they would have been against the revolution – even
though without this the world would never have progressed to what it is
Progress takes time, he noted. While parties taking power in the Middle East
today think they can impose their views on their opponents because they were
elected democratically, within a few centuries – centuries, he stressed –
they will learn how mistaken they are, and that their survival depends on
freedom for all. "There are no shortcuts in history. Europe took hundreds of
years to agree on a progressive set of values."
Dismissing the idea that Islamists being voted into power throughout the
region means that Islamism is taking root, Mr. Carmon discussed Tunisia and
Egypt as cases in point. In Tunisia, he said, Islamists won only because
they were united within the Ennahda party, and because their numerically
superior rivals were dispersed among dozens of small parties. In Egypt,
Islamist candidate Muhammad Mursi and secular candidate Ahmad Shafiq were
nearly tied in the presidential election – and this was only because many
non-Islamists could not bring themselves to vote for Shafiq because he
symbolized the ousted Mubarak regime. But today, he added, they are coming
out against Mursi's regime.
Demonstration in protest of the murder of opposition leader Shukri Belaid
Also, he pointed out, even in Gaza, where it is generally thought that Hamas
has universal support, on January 1, 2013, the anniversary of Fatah's
founding, hundreds of thousands of Fatah supporters took to the streets.
"Hamas did not take Gaza, and it cannot take it," he said.
January 1, 2013 Fatah celebration in Gaza
The overall trend in the region, he explained, is one of states' complete
disintegration into regions, ethnicities, religions, and even tribes – not
one of unification into an "Islamic bloc." The struggles among these
elements of society will continue for centuries, he said, but this time
"they will be authentic struggles" which will end in reciprocal
accommodation, just as happened in Europe after countless wars.
"It Is Both Morally Shameful And Politically Unwarranted For America To
Support Elements That Take [Egypt] Backwards"; Apparently When It Backed The
Muslim Brotherhood, The U.S. Did Not Realize The True Strength Of The MB's
Mr. Carmon is critical of the U.S.'s stance on Egypt, saying that it "should
have stood with the progressive forces, not [with] the Islamists... In
Egypt, it clings to the [Muslim] Brotherhood. This is really tragic. It is
both morally shameful and politically unwarranted for America to support
elements that take humanity backwards."
Apparently, he said, when it backed the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. did not
realize the true strength of the MB's opponents in the country. "I suppose
they thought that the Islamists are the power to reckon with, and they [the
Americans] just need to deal with it," he said. But now, he added, "they
continue to stick to that policy, even when realizing that political Islam
does not have a majority in Egypt."
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