Thursday, July 10, 2008

Clash of Civilisations (2) - Middle East

The stuggle between civilisations based on religious values and secular materialist culture is currently most intense in the Middle East.

  • The 1978 revolution in Iran threw out a secular government and replaced it with a government that would be shaped by Islamic values. More recently the struggle with modernising forces has become more intense.
  • A secular government in Egypt is facing intense pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood
  • In Turkey, there is an ongoing struggle between secular political parties and Islamic parties.
  • The struggle is suppressed in Saudi Arabia, because a largely secular monarchy holds everything religious under tight control.
  • Despite what most Americans think, Osama bin Laden’s main enemy is the secular humanist regimes that control most of the Islamic world. He is angry with America for propping up these regimes.
  • Sadaam Hussein was a Ba’athist. His was a secular, nationalist, socialist political movement. The war in Iraq has opened up the way for a much more religious government in Iraq.
  • The Palestininian group Fatah is a secular, nationalist movement. It is in a conflict with Hamas that is driven by religious values.
  • Ironically, the governments of Israel are on the secular, materialist, humanist side of this conflict.
  • The secular forces in the Middle East are often backed by the military. This is the situation in Turkey, where the military have threatened a coup, if a religious party gains power.
Following the Second World War, secular nationalist politics began to dominate the Middle East. We are now seeing a strong shift towards a politics that is integrated with the religion of Islam. Secular civilisation is still being driven forward as modern technology and urban lifestyles destroy traditional culture. However, the battle is not over, because Islamic civilisation has re-emerged as a potent political force.

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