Haroon Siddiqui, at the Toronto Star, spoke to the long-exiled recently-returned Tunisian Islamist leader, Rashid Gannoushi, who said:
“Islam is not a threat to the West. The popular revolutions sweeping the Middle East are not against the West but, in fact, influenced by the concept of freedom, egalitarianism, justice, rule of law. The West should be happy that it’s the western values that are winning. People are not shouting Islamic slogans, they are shouting western slogans. So, why’s the West afraid? Because it is not honest.”
Or it is nervous that the democratic movement “mobilizing Muslims to liberate themselves from western-supported dictators and from foreign domination would also encourage the Palestinian movement to end the Israeli occupation.”
Or the West simply does not savour the prospect of “dealing with our countries as equals, with respect, equality and justice — which means they will have to give up their colonial and crusader mentality.”
Another group that needs adjusting is the westernized elite in Muslim nations, especially in Tunisia, he said. They are alienated from their own people. They are anti-religious, whereas the people are not. Muslims have a right to be Muslim in a democracy.
Gannoushi was here to address a conference titled, “The Arab world in transition: Has the future arrived?”
Indeed it has, he said. Autocrats, such as Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, have no option but to go and see their nations democratized. Monarchies must evolve into constitutional monarchies; those that don’t will be toppled. It is just a matter of time.