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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Islamists 'willing to court Leftists'

Islamists 'willing to court Leftists'
The Peninsula - 23 December, 2006

Islamists face a tough choice. They view the governments of their own
countries as their fiercest enemies while they argue that they are the
allies of the 'unacceptable' US-Zionist combine.

And, strangely, in their strategy to take on the might of the Arab rulers
and their American-Zionist 'patrons', they are even willing to seek help
from the Leftists in their own midst.

Although the Left movement seems to have run out of steam in the Arab
countries, as elsewhere in the world, it is the unity of the political
forces rallying against the 'common enemy' that actually matters to

Iraq and Sudan were the cradles of Communism in the Arab world in the days
gone-by. "That is history now," as one Islamist put it in remarks to The
Peninsula yesterday not wanting his name in print.

"Marxism is dying everywhere and the Arab world is no exception," he said.
However, despite their dwindling presence, the Leftists continue to have
pockets of influence in some countries. Lebanon is a good example where a
Communist Party still exists, says the Islamist.

He was here to attend the two-day conference on 'Islamists versus Arab
Nationalists', a phrase he does not approve of. "The convention was all
about forging unity in the Arab world against the common enemy," he insists.

And if you believe him, the convention did discuss ways to bring the
Leftists in the Arab world and the Islamists on a single political platform.

Islamists secretly admit they have learnt a good lesson from the Leftists
and have even set up labour wings in some countries (Egypt's labour party is
one example), although history bears testimony to the fact that the Islamic
Brotherhood movement took roots in the 1920s after the fall of 'Khilafa' and
the emergence of Communism post-Bolshevik Revolution.

"We know we are strange bedfellows, but we want strategic alliance with the
Leftists in the Arab world," said the Islamist.

He did not seem as much concerned about Arab Nationalists, who are the
followers of a movement that was spearheaded by the late Gamal Abdul Nasser
of Egypt and others before him.

"Nasser launched the nationalist movement in mid-1952 at least in Egypt and
could ensure some following because many people at the time thought
Brotherhood (Islamist movement) was losing its luster," he said.

Although Nasser was not the one who originally came up with the idea of such
a movement. There were others outside Egypt who thought of this much before.

Having seen its renaissance in the 1930s through the late 1940s due to the
Arab-Israel conflict, the Brotherhood movement had lost its steam in Arab
countries by the dawn of the 1950s.

But Islamists believe, the movement is catching momentum once again.
"Islamism is more popular and broad-based with Muslims being more than 1.2
billion in number worldwide," argue its protagonists.

Arab nationalism has, on the contrary, less appeal as the Arab population is
merely an estimated 300 million the world over and of them, some five per
cent follow the Christian faith. Arab Jews have mostly migrated to Israel
and their population in the Arab world is barely in the thousands now, they

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