September 20th, 2012
10:27 AM ET

A moment for moderates

By Fareed Zakaria

Watching the protests and associated violence spreading across the Muslim world in recent days, I couldn't help thinking, Where are you now, Wael Ghonim? Ghonim is, of course, the former marketing executive for Google who was catapulted onto the global stage in 2011 as one of the organizers of the opposition to Egypt's dictatorship. He became the hopeful face of the Arab Spring–young, hip, modern and passionate in the cause of freedom.

Where is he, and the thousands like him, now that freedom is under assault in Egypt again? Over the past few weeks, mobs have gathered to demand the death of a filmmaker–not really a filmmaker but a bigot who made a crude Internet video satirizing the Prophet Muhammad. It provided a pretext that radical Islamists in Egypt pounced on to advance their cause. But whatever the trumped-up origins of the protests, the question facing a number of newly minted democracies from Libya to Afghanistan is clear: With freedom challenged by the violence of mobs and the intolerance of masses, will anyone stand up to defend it?

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Topics: Islam

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. 100 %ETHIO

    "...small local gangs of misfits hoping to attract attention through nihilism and barbarism".
    (Fareed Zakaria: The Post American World, page 12-2nd column).

    For most of you, you don't know about Dr. Zakaria's Family, his wife Mrs. PAULA ZAKARIA is also, "...a gifted writer". (Page 297-3rd column).

    September 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  2. JAL

    The US state department needs to evolve quickly to work with the US private sector to pave the way for new business relationships in the Arab world, within months. China needs to evolve quickly to continue to help defeat poverty (now in other countries). Stress comes from these quick adjustments.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply

    Western societies have failed to understand the Muslim culture in general. Anyone who has been exposed to Anthropology 101 would understand that cultural norms and mores as well as religion is an important part of the society outside of the western culture. We have failed to understand that the Arab Spring was a drive to move to democracy. The most important point here is the countries who have been under dictatorship for over 50 years have no concept of democratic society as we in the west know. Furthermore, large majority of Arab countries are extremely poor and illiturate who depend on others to think for them telling them what to believe. We are wittnessing the explosion of new found freedom without any control over emotions or reasoning. Perhaps we should rething concept of democracy in the Arab World in generate. Could democracy be incapable with Islam? Is freedom of speech benigh to the Muslim relgion? Is Islam incapabile with western ideals? These are question we need to ponder.

    September 23, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
    • Gene

      So your name is Duane, huh?

      September 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    You're right there are more moderates in Dubai and Doha than in anywhere else in the Arab World. Prosperity matters. In general people are care-free, if they don't have to worry about how to make ends meet,. They might be more tolerant if their mind were more open to new ideas and changes.

    September 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply

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