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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East


A Secular Revolution, for now…

January 31, 2011 - 2:42 PM | by: Mike Tobin

Call them a ray of hope or a descent into anarchy, the popular uprisings are spreading across the Arab world like a prairie fire.  Existing under the heavy hand of totalitarian rule, common people became inspired, unified and are taking a stand against the ruling classes on their own streets, with a sharp contrast to previous Muslim revolutions.  The current demonstrations are inspired and still motivated by secular Arabs.  “They were the ones who started the whole thing. It was not the Islamists,” says long time Arab Journalist and author Randa Habib.  However, the Islamists were quick got get involved.  Having enjoyed the advantage of being able to organize through the Mosques, the Islamists are better prepared to orchestrate anti-government demonstrations. The Muslim Brotherhood has already played an active role in the Egyptian and Jordanian uprisings.

Sensing the desire of the people to avoid moving form one heavy hand to another, the Muslim Brotherhood is demonstrating, almost campaigning as a moderate-secular movement. In Jordan, executive officers Kathem Ayesh and Ali Abu Sukkar press the idea that their demonstrations are more moderate that those in Egypt because they are not calling for the removal of King Abdullah.  They want to take away his ability to appoint the Prime Minister and other high-ranking parliamentarians.  They call for a constitutional change that would decide those offices either by popular vote or Parliamentary majority. They say then, Government would reflect the will of the people. “The people of Jordan will decide the shape, and what they want, really. It is not the Muslim brothers,” Says Ayesh.

Habib, however, thinks the Islamists are only making a move toward the center because the popular movement demands it. “It is a tactic. I think they think that the street is not all theirs that there are other powers in the Arab street today and they don’t want to scare the street,” Says Habib. “The ultimate goal will always be to have an Islamic country, with Islamic Law. Democracy and the secular people will pay the price.”

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood believe the West paints them in an unfair light, because of the “Zionist Media” and because Hamas and Al Qaeda grew out of their ranks.  Still, the Executive officers don’t heartily deny the charge that they will ultimately make a move toward Islamic rule. “We look for an elected government from the majority of parliament. So, if the majority of Parliament looks for an Islamic Government, we can’t say no,” Says Abu Sukkar.

That gets you to another complicating or complicated factor: If the monarchy, which signed the treaty with Israel, becomes disempowered, is the peace with Israel still respected?  Ayesh says an answer to that hypothetical must take into consideration that fact that most of the people in Jordan consider themselves Palestinian or Palestinian refugees.  “This is again the will of the people. They will decide what they want, really.”