What is happening in Arab Spring countries now is confusing and raises many questions. Why should civilians be beaten, dragged on the road and even be killed? Are there some people who still view the uprisings in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen as different forms of chaos, not revolts aiming at bringing citizens more freedoms and dignity?
Most of the successful uprisings in Arab countries, from Tunisia to Yemen (except in Libya, of course) were peaceful, which achieved their objectives without spilling much blood. They have managed to have their own parliamentary and presidential elections. These elections should have been conducive to creating stability.
But the assassination of Tunisian politician Choukri Belaid has sent shockwaves across the Arab world. Public figures, including famous religious scholar Sheikh Yousef Al Qaradawi, the chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), condemned Belaid’s assassination. Al Qaradawi said regime opponents have the right to express their views freely and without fear. He called on the Tunisian government to conduct an investigation into what he called an ‘awful crime’ and punish the guilty, regardless of who they are. He said that spilling Muslim blood is forbidden, including that of opposition leaders.
The sorry thing is that in the same countries where activists call for more freedom, some religious scholars issue edicts that open the way for assassinating regime opponents and detractors.
Most clerics issuing these edicts had spent the prime of their lives in jail under the previous regimes. They suffered a lot at the hands of oppressive regimes. The surprising thing, though, is that when they came to power, these clerics are showing their true colour – their brutal side.
They exploit the time they appear on TV or on mosque pulpits to call political rivals ‘infidels’. They even say that they deserve to be killed.
These clerics must realise that they should not follow in the footsteps of dictatorial regimes that were overthrown. By using the same track, they are violating the true essence of Islam, a religion that preaches nothing but tolerance and mercy. They should read this verse from the holy Quran, “But whoever kills a believer intentionally - his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment,” [An-Nisaa (4:93)].
They should also remember Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) saying, “The destruction of the whole world is more acceptable to Allah than the unlawful killing of a believer.”
What happens in Arab Spring countries these days is nothing but a setback to the revolutions. If hatred and violence continue to rule, these countries will be torn apart.
Leading scholars and Al Azhar in Egypt must act to curb religious excesses. They should promote unity among different sections of society so that this society can stand on its feet again.
The fact that despotism and intolerance are quickly winning the day when democracy and tolerance should have been victors is just maddening.