Coffee House

The glaring failure of the Arab Spring

24 April 2013

24 April 2013

Two Bishops carrying out relief work in northern Syria appear to have been kidnapped by rebels, underscoring the increasingly sectarian dimension of the conflict. Syria’s minorities have long worried about their future if Assad falls, fearing a similar fate to that of their counterparts elsewhere in the Middle East.

Indeed, of all the Arab Spring’s various let-downs the failure to protect minorities is perhaps the most glaring. The attacks on Christians in Egypt earlier this month which resulted in two deaths and left close to 100 people hospitalised epitomises the decay of any pluralistic promise the Arab revolutions may have once offered. Those attacks followed the effective eradication of Jewish life from Egypt last year. The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria was the last functioning centre of Jewish worship in the country and was maintained by an Israeli Rabbi of Egyptian descent. He was barred from returning to host services there during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur last September when the Muslim Brotherhood warned they were unable to guarantee his security.

Subscribe from £1 per week

As these traditional communities – long established and broadly considered ‘people of the book’ (i.e. Abrahamic monotheists) – face increased persecution, the position of anyone holding beliefs beyond normative Sunni Islam is imperilled. What of the atheists and apostates, or the regions other minorities like the Druze and Baha’is?

The implications of all this are poorly understood on the ground. Sunnis have failed to grasp that once the minorities fold, greater authoritarianism will follow. In that event everyone but the most extreme and conservative elements of society will suffer and the region will look distinctly worse than it did before its autocrats were swept away.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.

Show comments
  • chan chan

    The overwhelmingly bigoted view of muslims by ignorant western journalists and politicians is that muslims have no thoughts or ideas of their own, that they only react to what westerners say or do, think like us, and want exactly the same things we want.

    They do not.

    The Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Freedom and Justice Party’ means ‘Freedom from man-made law, justice under Islamic Shari’ah law’. That is all it means, and all it has ever meant. Muslims know this, but dumb, ignorant western journalists and politicians think “oh, look – evidence they want western-style freedom and justice, just like us!”

    Muslims have their own 1400 year old, tried and tested form of social, economic, and political governance. It’s called ‘Islam’. It’s backward and retarded, and evidently never results in anything but misery, poverty and death, but it’s what they want.

    We need to keep well away from them, because the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds cannot mix without war following. Oh, wait…

  • Fergus Pickering

    Told you so. Told you so. Bloody told you so. Arabs need dictatorial governments to keep them down.

  • Tom Tom

    You omitted to mention the attack on the Copt in Banghazi and the etching of a cross into his head. Clearly the Caliphate of Wahhabism funded by the House of Saud is expanding rapidly now they have bought Western political elites to do their dirty work

  • George Igler

    The “Arab Spring” has been a glaring failure because it, like the word “Islamism”, describes a phenomenon that only exists in the minds of wishful thinking Westerners.

    Understood in their own terms, these geopolitical events were perfectly predictable, and were widely predicted.

    The only people shocked are those who are seeing that real life isn’t running along the lines of the fantasy they hoped it would.

  • Fasdunkle

    What will happen is muslim organisations will continue to scream “islamophobia” whenever a muslim doesn’t get his/her own way in the west – while in muslim majority countries the rights of non muslims will be eroded until they are non existent
    Islam is a one way street

    • Shazza

      One way street back to the Dark Ages

  • Austin Barry

    Only in western terms is the Arab Spring a failure; for Islam it is a roaring success – more persecution of the infidels, more misogyny, more Sharia, more proscriptive of anything remotely resembling the cultural benefits of the Enlightenment.

    But our boneheaded, dissembling leaders will continue to mouth pokerwork homilies about the wonderful attributes of the great Religion of Peace etc. etc.

    • Shazza

      And these ‘benefits’ are rapidly heading our way.

    • chan chan

      “Only in western terms…” etc.

      Slam dunk. See my other comment.

  • Martin Adamson

    What a shame it is that the few people on the Internet who saw this coming literally from Day One of the Arab Spring – I’m talking about Andrew Bostom, Geert Wilders, “Fjordman”, David Goldman aka Spengler, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs – are uniformly reviled by the kind of people who write for the Spectator as little more than Nazis. And yet somehow these knuckle-draggers were correct, and the whole body of western educated liberal opinion were wrong.

    • Shazza

      Not forgetting all the scorn that was heaped on Glenn Beck by certain commentators here when he cautioned that this ‘spring’ was going to end not in western-style democracy but in the spread of islamofascism.

    • Tom Tom

      It is Saudi money and Western elites with their pseudo-Marxist claptrap who despise Christianity for accepting their own moral turpitude

      • Sue Ward

        True and succinctly put.

  • Chris lancashire

    I’m not sure anyone expected pluralism from the “Arab Spring”. The intolerance of a broad swathe of Islam to any other belief is an ongoing worry to the rest of the world and not something which will change in even the next two generations.

    • Russell

      People are called racists if they express the opinion that they don’t want any more followers of the ‘cult’ Islam in this country, or Nigerian criminals/benefit fraudsters, or West Indian criminals/benefit fraudsters, when really all they want is a less violent country with a higher percentage of people who share their own beliefs and standards of behaviour.

      • HookesLaw

        Your gratuitous use of the word ‘cult’ rather shows you up for what you are. When you use language like that, inflammatory language, how do you expect Muslims to react?
        Islam need to grow up and evolve but it isn’t going to happen over night. The more they govern themselves and argue amongst themselves the more wealth they acquire for themselves the sooner they will grow up.

        Today’s news says we are becoming a less violent country.
        How are you feeling about say Russian Coptic Christian ‘criminals’ coming to the UK? I suspect you dislike the people living in your next street.

        • Russell

          I believe ‘cult’ is a term used to describe organisations/religions that brainwash their congregations into doing things they would not normally consider (like suicide bombers and other acts of terrorism).
          The fact that I want people who either visit my country of residence and birth, seek asylum here or wish to emigrate here, to conform to my standards of decent behaviour certainly shows me up for what I am. Nothing inflammatory at all to rational human beings, however, for people like yourself, nothing surprises me.

          • Tom Tom

            I agree with your use of the term “cult”

            • HookesLaw

              Why are we not surprised

        • Tom Tom

          Islam does not “need to grow up”. That is condescending drivel typical of secularist morons. Russell is not inflammatorey, Hookes Law is ! Islam is a Cult. it was founded as a Cult. It had NO basis before Mohammed had a Nestorian monk write a synthesis of Christianity and Judaism moxed with Zoastrianism. That is why THe Satanic Verses are so sensitive in Mohammed’s background and noone talks about them

          • HookesLaw

            I am not a secularist and you are the moron
            You talk drivel. On that basis all religions are a cult. Are Methodists a cult due to their interpretation of the bible? They may indeed be but on that basis Islam is no different. Traducing everybody on the basis of their gang of nut jobs is a pathetic and hysteric and self defeating argument.

            Isalm is stuck in the middle ages, it fights within itself as much as anything just as Christians did in the past and is mired in ignorance and poverty. Its extremists must be resisted.

            All you and the other hysterics offer is counter madness.

            Madness is easy to engender – it resulted in the murder of 6 million jews.

        • Sue Ward

          Well I’d like Muslim’s to react by rolling their eyes and getting on with their lives as I would do if anyone called my faith a ‘cult’ or anything similarly disparaging. However we all know that is not how a large proportion would react: vocal demos, inflammatory sermons, riots, fatwas… need I go on?

    • ProffessorPlum

      “The intolerance of a broad swathe of Islam to any other belief”

      Absolute rubbish. To a very small part this may be true. Nowhere in the Koran will you find intolerance of other religions unlike the bible:

      “When the LORD your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy”

      Deuteronomy 7.2

      • Chris lancashire

        I am sure you are absolutely correct on the contents of both the Koran and the Bible. It doesn’t alter the fact that a very high proportopn of Muslims remain intolerant of other religions. A small example – how many Christian churches are there in Saudi Arabia?

        • ProffessorPlum

          “A small example – how many Christian churches are there in Saudi Arabia?”

          A lot less than there are in Syria, Palestine, Iraq.

          Fortuantely not all moslems are as intolerant of other religions as those in Saudi are. And trying to brand a whole religion for the action of minute number would be like trying to blame all jews for the Russain revolution or the actions of Israel’s leaders.

          • Chris lancashire

            The answer is zero.

            • ProffessorPlum

              “The answer is zero.”

              Quite correct. Why don’t you push for a change of regime there?
              Freedom of religion and all that.

              However, what you are ignoring and what you see intent on doing is branding a whole religion for the action of minute number, which would be like trying to blame all jews for the Russain revolution or the actions of Israel’s leaders.

              • Chris lancashire

                Unlike Messrs Bush and Blair I don’t believe we should pursue regime change. I suspect that we cannot agree and certainly do not know what proportion of Muslims are intolerant and to what degree. I do note, however, a general and pleasing lack of Christian, Buddhist, Zen and Jewish suicide bombers.

                • ProffessorPlum

                  ” I ….. certainly do not know what proportion of Muslims are intolerant and to what degree”

                  Are you sure? Because, I realize it was probably a long time ago to you but a few minutes ago you wrote:

                  “a very high proportopn [sic] of Muslims remain intolerant of other religions”

                  “I do note, however, a general and pleasing lack of Christian, Buddhist, Zen and Jewish suicide bombers.”

                  You will probably also not note that there aren’t many of them who are have had their lands invaded either.

                  Neither will you note that many of them are not without the means to conduct conventional war, from 30,000 feet or the security of armoured vechiles.

                • Chris lancashire

                  Yep, it’s an unfair old world.

                • Austin Barry

                  Well, Professor Plum, if Muslims are not intolerant why is it likely that if you were to publish a cartoon of Mohammed you would likely be subsequently found in the library beside a candlestick?

                • ProffessorPlum

                  ” if you were to publish a cartoon of Mohammed you would likely be subsequently found in the library beside a candlestick?”

                  Really? I seem to remember a lot of anti-Islam cartoons having been published but I don’t remember any of those responsible for them being found lying in any library next to any candlesticks.

                  I do know that if you question the shoa business you can end up in prison.

                • Martin Adamson

                  Actually we do now have quite a lot of information on what proportion of Muslims are intolerant. At the last set of Egyptian and Tunisian elections – which most people regard as being reasonably fair – about 20-25% of the population voted for the most extreme salafist parties. What was interesting was that Tunisians and Egyptians living in Europe were more likely to vote for extremist parties than for secularist ones. I see no reason to doubt that similar, if not larger, proportions prevail in countries that don’t have elections.

                • Chris lancashire

                  Thank you for a useful and informed comment.

          • Martin Adamson

            It is certainly true that not all Muslims are as intolerant as the Saudis. Unfortunately it is also true that in the last 3 decades Muslim countries that used to maintain their own traditions of tolerant Islam – Malaya, Indonesia, Mali, the Balkans, the Caucasus, central Asia, Turkey – have been intensely targeted by Saudi money, preachers and propaganda with the result that these countries are now markedly less tolerant than they were as recently as the 1970s. To give a small example, in Malaysia in the 1970s Muslim schoolgirls used to wear English-style school uniforms consisting of skirts and blouses. Now they all must wear the full chador and loose-fitting robes. Another example – check out the black and white Egyptian or Lebanese film clips on YouTube featuring popular singers like Om Kalthoum and compare the clothes Arab women were wearing in the 1950s with what they are wearing today.

          • ganef_returns

            I must apologise for my friend ProffessorPlum. He was dropped on his head as a youngster and has not been the same ever since.

        • Tom Tom

          No, he is not. Read them for yourself instead of falling for gibberish

          • Chris lancashire

            I do apologise. I had assumed I was dealing with someone of similar integrity to myself.

      • George Igler

        Is it your serious contention that the Bible instructs Christians to persecute non-Christians, whereas the Quran doesn’t instruct Muslims to violently subjugate non-Muslims?

        Have you actually read the Quran, and if so which translation: Pickthall, Muhsin Khan, Yusuf Ali?

        Or did you just repeatedly bang your head into a particularly heavy copy penned in classical Arabic?

        This could be one explanation for the cerebral concussion necessary for you to continually write such patently false rubbish on this subject.

        • ProffessorPlum

          “Is it your serious contention that the Bible instructs Christians to persecute non-Christians, whereas the Quran doesn’t instruct Muslims to violently subjugate non-Muslims?”

          Just to support Tom Tom’s post. The first 5 books of the bible are what make up the Torah, which is you guessed it the basis for the jewish religion. While it is very intolernat of any religion and directs jews to destroy all other religions, it is nothing compared to the Talmud.

          • George Igler

            Why did you follow a quotation of my question, with sentences that made no attempt to answer it? Are you labouring under the misapprehension that doing so constituted some kind of an answer?

            Or could your reticence at simply replying “yes” or “no” be because if you had done so, you’d be exposed as a pointless little bullshit monger who hasn’t even read the book that he preposterously pretends to be informed about?

            I do so love people who think that not reading the Quran (i.e. reading the religious texts of other faiths), is some sort of substitute for, erm, reading the Quran.

            Guess what? It isn’t…

          • Tom Tom

            It is the Pentateuch. It has only ONE GOD YHWH – the Tetragrammaton to signify the One True God. ONLY the Jews of the Old Testament know YHWH – all other religions are pagan and Moloch was the Phoenician pagan god which required child sacrifice. That is why Abraham was tested. The basis of eradicating pagan religions from the Land of Israel was the basis of the Old Testament just as when Jericho fell.

            To compare that with a series of verses supposedly written by an illiterate merchant in the Hejaz 6000 years later is bizarre. Go read the Satanic Verses…….……………… go read about the Quarish and how they were treated…..and in Surah 33 how the Jews of Banu Quarayiza were beheaded

            • ProffessorPlum

              “The basis of eradicating pagan religions from the Land of Israel ”

              Actually i think you’ll find the wording is ‘wherever you shall find them’.

              ” go read”

              Yes or how the Russian royal family was murdered.

              Or a one ton bomb was dropped on a residential house to kill one of its occupants.

              Or the murder of 525 mainly women and children on march 16 1967 we could go on and on

      • Tom Tom

        You are wrong. The Bible has only one monotheistic people – the Jews – and only they believe in the God of Abraham. All other religions are pagan. Mohammed arrived on the scene over 6000 years later

      • Sue Ward

        If even a very small part is true, how can it be “absolute rubbish”?

      • ganef_returns

        ” Nowhere in the Koran will you find intolerance of other religions unlike the bible”

        Clearly you have not read the Quran, then. The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with
        nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with
        commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding.

        Quran (2:191-193)
        Quran (2:244)
        Quran (2:216)
        Quran (3:56)
        Quran (3:151)

        ….. and so on. If you want the full list, try

        • ProffessorPlum

          Anyway to have a little context on the subject:

          “And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers”


          Expel is worse than killing.

          Expel them from where they have expelled you

          Do not fight unless they fight.

          You really do have to do a lot better than that

          • ganef_returns

            You really are an idiot. I notice all the negative feedback you get.

          • George Igler

            “Anyway to have a little context on the subject”

            The context of theses verse is provided much more eloquently by fourteen centuries of human history, and the 8 year old corpse of Martin Richard blown to bits by nails and ball bearings last Monday.

            • ProffessorPlum

              “The context of theses verses is provided much more eloquently by fourteen centuries of human history,”

              Yes quite right.

              we can now blame moslems for the English civil war.

              The French revolution.

              The genocide of native Americans

              The Russian revolution

              WWI and II

              The use of nuclear weapons.

              The discovery of and use of agent orange and napalm

              and the 100 years war

              not the mention the rise in the cost of living.

              • George Igler

                Evading questions does not constitute answering them.

                A use of a logical fallacy, in this case tu quoque, does not constitute a rebuttal.

                Go on, give it another go.

                • ProffessorPlum

                  “Evading questions does not constitute answering them.”

                  Questions usually finish with a question mark. I didn’t notice one in the post I responding to.

      • chan chan

        Oh, that’s priceless. You’re ignoring 60% of Islamic doctrine there. Love it!

        I do like the way apologists for Islam constantly bang on about “the koran says this” and “the koran says that”. What about the remaining 85% of Islamic doctrine, the Hadith and the Sira? No comment to make on that? Have you even heard of them? Perhaps not…

    • Shazza

      Islam will never, ever change. This Dark Ages idealogy will never, ever be compatible with with Western freedom-enjoying, democratic civilisation. Where you find islam, you find horror.

      • chan chan

        It cannot change because it is designed specifically so it can’t be.

    • HookesLaw

      Correct. The notion that democracies can be brought into being fully formed is fanciful. But that does not mean that the process should not be begun. And it does not mean that the issues should not be faced up to.

      We only need to look back to our own revolutionary spring in the 1640’s and its aftermath to see the parallels.

      • Tom Tom

        1640s were not a “revolutionary spring” they were a result of Uprisings in Scotland, Ireland, and England. Much to do with a Prayer Book in Scotland. Only The Levellers were obsessed with “democracy” and they were destroyed

  • salieri

    Yup, these Arab countries just don’t seem to get this vibrant inclusive multiculty community thingy despite all the UK’s efforts to show them the way. I wonder why that is?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here