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What about the other Islamic tyrannies?

Reader comment on item: Iran in Crisis

Submitted by LB Deyo (United States), Jul 23, 2002 at 13:19

Dr. Pipes is right: the news from Iran is hopeful. However, we shouldn't assume the trends in Iran will appear in other Islamic theocracies. Iran is unique.

By the logic of the article, i.e. that persons forced to live under militant Islam are inclined to rebel against it, we should be seeing similar attitudes in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait. This development is far from true; while there is indeed intense resentment toward the governments in those countries, the people are profoundly militant Islamicists whose rebelliousness is based in fanatical piety. An example of this is Bin Laden, who charges the Saudi regime with heresy for its Western ties. Another example is Al Jazeera, boastful of its opposition to the Arab regimes, yet itself Islamicist and doggedly anti-Western.

The signs of unrest in Iran are encouraging, but it would be naive to think the same unrest will occur in Arab countries. Iran was, until the late '70's, a highly Westernized, liberal country by the standards of that part of the world. The people there are sophisticated and well-educated, and can draw on that when opposing their oppressors in Tehran. But the people of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are backward, repressed, deprived by their government of all exposure to enlightened traditions. They have more in common with the wretched denizens of rural Pakistan than with the cosmopolitan Iranians.
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