Decolonial Translation Group


In the Arab world, Islam means democracy and the West dictatorship, by Abdenur Prado

The West has financed dictatorships in the Middle East and Arab World for more than a century

By Abdennur Prado, President of the Junta Islámica Catalana, and organizer of the bi-annual International Congress of Islamic Feminism. He is the author of many books and articles on contemporary Islamic questions, which can be found on his blog.


The pro-democracy protests against Western-supported dictatorships in the Arab world have shown, once again, the immense hypocrisy of our rulers.  What side are the Western governments on, the side of the protesters or the side of dictators?  The answer is simple: on the side of those that generate millions in benefits for large Western multinational corporations.

But this is no surprise. It is known that the West has financed more than a century of dictatorships in the Middle East and the Arab world, as it is through the autocracies that it [the West] manages to control the wealth of this part of the planet.   Although this means the exploitation and poverty of the people who face the dismantling of social policies sponsored by the International Monetary Fund in order to repay foreign debt generated by the millions in Western arms purchases...  With regard to the aspirations of civil society, the increasingly widespread poverty, torture and repression, lack of freedoms and rights... no Western ruler cares in the least.  And all of them have shown this, continuously with no known exceptions, for over a century.  Recent statements by Henry Kissinger are significant in this regard: "We've had five presidents that considered Hosni Mubarak the best way to achieve U.S. objectives in the region."

We have to do no more than to rescue from newspaper archives every declaration of Western leaders praising the Arab tyrants: for their economic policies, maintaining stability, contributing to international security, for ensuring secularism and halting the advance of Islamist movements ... In short: for being submissive to the dictates of Western financial markets and the International Monetary Fund.

This general overview provides only one variant: the collusion or lack thereof with the State of Israel. Which highlights the decisive role of Israel in the maintenance of dictatorships in the Arab world, something corroborated by the statements of Netanyahu in support of Ben Ali and Mubarak, as well as by decades of collusion with the House of Saud and other monarchies fabricated by colonialism.  No surprise then to know that Israeli diplomacy has done everything possible to save Mubarak.   Certainly, Israel's concern is justified, not only because of the danger of the rise of political Islam, but by the fact that the democratic governments that can arise will not maintain their country's complicity with the genocide of the Palestinian people. The opening of Gaza's border with the Sinai is a key to the survival of the Palestinian people.  This is a compelling reason to welcome democracy in Egypt and the Middle East!

What about "Islamism"?  This is a matter of beating a scarecrow to justify support for "secular" dictatorships.  However, it is intentionally concealed that parliamentary democracy is now accepted by a majority of so-called Islamist parties throughout the Arab world.


A paradigmatic case is that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  By 1944 its founder, Hasan al-Banna, supported the participation in parliamentary elections with the argument that the Egyptian Constitution was "Islamic," as it recognized that authority rests with the people, ensured decision-making in concert (Shura) and respect for individual freedoms.  In some of his writings he wrote in favor of parliamentary democracy: "The basis of political organization founded in parliamentary representation does not contradict the fundamentals that Islam has established for the organization of power."  Since its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood have never stopped saying that their intention was not to take power, but to educate society and influence the system so that the Islamic ideals of justice would be implemented.  However, they are harassed as a boogeyman by mass media manipulation and Western governments. (I am no fan of the Muslim Brotherhood, but I am against their demonization.  To know their positions, visit their website in English).

Now there is talk of the return to Tunisia of Rachid al-Ghannouchi, founder and historic leader of the Tunisian En-Nahda party, after 22 years of exile. According to Ghannouchi, Islam provides a more fertile framework than the western one for democracy to bear fruition.  There exists a book in which Azam Tamimi examines his thought in detail, Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat Within Islamism, published by Oxford University Press.  Among his ideals: "an Islamic system based on the will of the majority, free elections, free press, protection of minorities, equality of secular and religious parties, and the full realization of the rights of women in all areas, from participating in elections, freedom of dress, the right to divorce, to the right to be head of state.  The role of Islam is to provide an ethical system. "

An ethical system that necessarily involves the abolition of usury, ensures basic services for all the population, and the establishment of mechanisms to prevent the accumulation of capital in a few hands.  Something as valid for Spain as it is for Egypt.

In short: it is a fact that Islamist movements are nowadays the champions of democracy against the corrupt tyrannies funded by the West.  It is curious to see how the terms are inverted to the point of passing as absolutists the opposition who are demanding democracy ... and as salvation of the same the dictators that suppress civil liberties.   The world turned upside down?  The world, as seen through the media of mass manipulation.  That is, from the perspective of the interests of large financial corporations of the West.


Translation: Roberto Hernández

Source: WebIslam,