Friday, June 19, 2009

Ormazd akbar?

Daniel Larison notes an infelicity by David Ignatius --
Muslim parties and their allies have suffered election setbacks over the past several years in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and Pakistan.
--and slips the knife in:
What’s wrong with this sentence? Of course, we know what Ignatius meant to say. He meant to say Islamist, but isn’t it odd that the word he did use was Muslim? Who exactly does he think is marching in Tehran at the moment? Zoroastrians?
He does have a serious point:
if Mousavi’s forces prevail, who will have won? The Islamists or the non-Islamists? Silly question. For all the talk of democracy, the protesters are invoking the legacy of the Islamic revolution, which they believe has been betrayed, and they are employing the rhetoric of that revolution, which is nothing if not Islamist. Indeed, at the moment their hopes rest to a disproportionate degree with anti-Khamenei clerics who might decide to oust him. Should that happen, I hope that we will not be treated to some convoluted explanation that velayat-e faqih is actually a profoundly secular idea embodying the separation of religion and state, but given the commentary of the last few days I wouldn’t be surprised.
The equivalence of "secular" and "acceptable" is something that Larison is right to point a finger at, and those who assume that equivalence only lend ammo to the Islamists who stay in power by condemning the secular Americans.

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