The ‘star’ or the ‘beard’

OUR COLLEAGUE Ghassan Sharbal recently wrote in the Al-Hayat newspaper which is published from London. He is inquiring if we, Arabs, are destined or compelled to choose between the star and the beard — here he means between a military man and an opportunist from the Brotherhood Movement in countries of the so-called Arab Spring. Ghassan says these similes and comparisons remind him of the late Syrian Mohammed Al-Maghout who was desperate about positions adopted by the Arab countries. Al-Maghout said, ‘Don’t lie to yourself because there is no hope. You are left to choose between ‘the military man’ and ‘the bearded man’. The former will pluck your nails and the latter your freedom. We are laid bare on the road and have no relation to the future’.

Sharbal went on to describe our immediate past and painful present saying, ‘We have to choose between the injustice of the military men and the injustice of drastic opportunism’. The one who says that the Arab Spring has helped a country to leapfrog and moved people away from the path of corruption and despotism is a stickler.

For example, look at the ‘coercive’ Egyptian constitution, which was put for referendum recently and whose results were known in advance. We find this Constitution isolates various classes of the Egyptians including the Copts and the liberals except the opportunists from the Brotherhood Movement and the Salafist to reinforce the strict Islamic look while interpreting all laws and even when dealing with various groups of the nation.

The second article of the Egyptian constitution says Islam is the religion of the country and Arabic is its official language. In addition, the principles of the Islamic Sharia are the key source of legislation.

The Iranian thinker Atallah Mehajrani inquires in London’s Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper ‘What is the interpretation of Islam as the religion of a country? Which institution will be in charge of interpreting this article?

He made a comparison between the handler of the Iraqi Constitution (the Constitution of Paul Bremmer) when he interpreted this article using clear words as follows:

Article 2: First — Islam is the official religion of the country and a basic source of legislation:
(a) A law should not oppose the rules of Islam.
(b) A law should not oppose the principles of democracy.
(c) A law should not oppose the basic rights and freedoms contained in the constitution.

Second — This constitution preserves the Islamic identity of most Iraqis. In addition, it guarantees the religious rights of individuals including the freedom of cults and religious practices as Christians and other religious groups. The constitution should be allotted obviously to avoid any narrow interpretation.

By comparing accurately between the second article of the Egyptian constitution and its Iraqi counterpart, we find clearly and tangibly the attitude of the Brotherhood Movement and the Salafist which have imposed this article in Egypt. Yet, in the Iraqi constitution, the second article speaks of tolerance which might have been imposed by the occupying American forces on Iraqi legislators. Finally, we do not blame the confused Arab peoples who have been coerced into compulsorily accepting the ‘father of all stars’ or the ‘father of all beards’ — a leap from injustice into the world of darkness.

e-mail: ali-albaghli@hotmail.com


By: Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

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