Freedom Fridays

Freedom Fridays
tahrir-prayer1Today, more than ever, homage is due to the historical uprising of the Tunisian people. Millions of women and men overcame fear and faced down terror. The Egyptian people followed their example and brought down the despot. While the regimes may still be in place, an irreversible, uncontrollable movement has begun. North Africa and the Middle East will never again be the same. Whatever the schemes of military and the Western powers for political, geopolitical, and economic control, a new dynamic has been created. Non-violent, determined, and courageous mass movements have shown that anything is possible, that history is now forging ahead in the Arab world and the Muslim majority countries. From now on, it will be impossible to silence the craving for freedom and to halt the onward march of liberation, even though setbacks and missteps may occur.

The people of Libya have now taken to the streets and, city after city, freed its country from the grip of the eccentric dictator of Tripoli. The despot’s madness, as cunning as it is unpredictable, has not yet spoken its last. But it is clear that he too will fall; that Libya will be freed of the horrors of his long reign. He too stole, tortured, summarily eliminated, and lied. For more than forty years he cleverly manipulated, provoked, and humiliated the Western powers. Today, his own people have courageously chosen to confront him empty-handed. It is a question of vital importance to salute them, encourage them, assist them, and support them. There is little that can be done from outside. But the movement is gathering strength; we must do all we can to convince our own authorities to take a clear and forthright position. It will not come a moment too soon! For how dismal is the now-confirmed revelation of years of silence, hypocrisy, and falsehood: the Orient now stands as a revealing and distorting mirror in which the craven policies of the United States, of Canada, of Europe and Australia are reflected. Today, the people in revolt are chanting not a word of reproach toward the West. It could do no better than shake itself out of its stupor, as the Arab world is now doing. Courageous self-criticism is worth far more than guilty silence. Wait not a moment longer!
In Yemen, Bahrain, and Iraq; in Morocco, Algeria, Iran, and Jordan… peoples are calling out their desire for freedom and dignity. Expressed in their Friday gatherings, the power of the people defies description; the symbolism is overwhelming, irresistible. Muslim women and Muslim men, praying together, give voice to the universal human aspiration for liberty, justice, and dignity, for the power of sovereign people. For those who have, over the years, painted Muslims as impermeable to the ideals of liberty and democracy, and naturally inclined to violence—due to the very essence of Islam—the answer is clear-cut and unequivocal: tens of millions of Muslims, on these Fridays, have chosen the path of resistance, of sacrifice, and of liberation in a spirit of non-violence, respect for life, without ever criticizing the West, its values, and its betrayals. They have done so alongside Christians, Anglicans, and Copts, alongside atheists, communists, and citizens of all beliefs and ideologies. What finer answer could there be to the simple-minded, racist analyses propagated by populist parties in the West? On Freedom Fridays, with its massive crowds coming together to pray in the name of resistance and liberty, we witness, in real time, Islam—and of Muslims—joining forces with liberty, justice, and democratic principles. That the first European leader to have greeted the resisting peoples and called upon the dictators to leave was the Turkish Prime Minister should serve as a caustic reminder of the value of the short-sighted and tendentious analyses of the “Muslim world” that have long infested Western diplomacy and intellectual life.

The movement must not end here. We must hope that the peoples continue their onward march, that they completely free themselves from the yoke of the tyrants and complete their democratic revolution. The final word has not yet been spoken, either in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya or elsewhere, but the movement will surely prove stronger than those who are attempting to control it. Therein lies its power. It is essential that all the components of the pluralist opposition seize this historic occasion to dialogue, to establish common fronts representing civil society in order that army commanders do not turn the revolution to their advantage, or to the advantage of foreign political or economic powers. We must hope that governments pay heed. They must either implement thoroughgoing reform or leave the scene entirely, and make way for systems of government that respect the popular will, and that apply uncompromisingly the five basic and inalienable principles: the rule of law, equality of all citizens, universal suffrage, limited electoral terms (accountability), and the separation of powers. This is the imperative, and the minimum acceptable: without corruption, insider privilege, and in full independence. We must hope that the movement continues to spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East…up to and including Israel, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his racist foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman also be overthrown and with them, the interminable policy of colonization and non-respect of the dignity of the Palestinians and the Arab citizens of Israel.
On Freedom Fridays, everything is possible. Full of hope, with clear eyes, we must hail the march of the peoples and remind governments—whoever they may be, those of the tyrants or the shameless friends of those same tyrants—that nothing lasts forever, that despots and traitors can never be eternally shielded from their peoples, or from the judgment of History.

By Tariq Ramadan
Swiss Muslim Thinker

Source: OnIslam


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