Friday, 14 September 2012

Africa's radical Islam: Benghazi and Cairo as harbingers of the future

It is not easy to best the fury of Pakistan's mullahs but several post 'Arab Spring' nations have done so in the last few days. In normal times, Pakistan's radical clerics will be the first to rile up people to destroy public infrastructure whenever there is a 'threat' to Islam. So far, Pakistan's mullahs have been unusually quiet.

However, the furor over the anti-Islam film has caused widespread unrest within other parts of the Islamic world. The US ambassador to Libya was killed allegedly by an outraged mob in Benghazi. Additionally, the US embassy in Cairo was overrun by protestors who burnt the US flag and replaced it with an 'Islamic' flag. Protests have also spread to Tunisia and Sudan.
Clearly, Pakistan's radical clerics have other things on their mind these days. Either they are busy preparing for the forthcoming general election, due by March 2013. Or they have agreed a separate 'deal' with President Zardari to keep the peace. It is impossible to believe that Pakistan's clerics have changed their stripes. They must have calculated this not a politically opportune time to raise the heat in the country.

The new face of Egyptian state television
On the other hand, the politics of post 'regime change' Libya and Egypt have become clearer following the reaction to the film, "The Innocence of Muslims." Undoubtedly, the alleged identity of the key filmmaker being a Coptic Christian makes the issue more sensitive in Egypt, given the size of the country's Christian Coptic minority. Nevertheless, in Mubarak's Egypt the storming of the US embassy in Cairo would have been a remote possibility. Egyptian state's machinery was good not only for repression but also for maintaining order on the country's streets.
Likewise in Libya. Unless 'attacks' were intentionally orchestrated by Colonel Gaddafi own apparatus, foreign diplomatic missions in Libya were safe. In this instance, not only was the US consulate in Benghazi overrun but the US ambassador was also killed - an act of war in normal times.
As time progresses, the real face of the Arab Spring reveals itself. Egyptian state television news presenters donning scarves is simply the presentable face. The real danger lies in the unseen elements lurking behind the revolutions: these are the people who conspire to impose wahhabi Islam on all Muslims by force or threat of force.
The attacks on US interests in Libya and Egypt were neither random nor isolated. The world can expect more upheaval as radical Islam seeps into the mainstream political structure in African countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, Nigeria and Libya.
Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors and the Deodar Diagnostic, Imran improves profits of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at

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