Iran protests have changed the meaning of Mousavi

Daniel Pipes’s view of the significance of the events in Iran has changed. Previously he thought that Johnnie (my name for the Iranian president) ought to prevail, because he kept the world’s attention on the dangerous nature of the regime, while his opponent Mousavi would put the world back to sleep. Now Pipes writes:

The startling events in Iran in the week since the election, however, have transformed Mousavi from a hack Islamist politician into the unlikely symbol of dreams for a more secular and free Iran. In the words of Abbas Milani, my colleague at the Hoover Institution, “If Ahmadinejad survives, it will be on the back of a Tiananmen-style crackdown. If Mousavi prevails, it will be on a wave of reformist sentiment.” While that reformist sentiment may not shake the regime and is unlikely to stop the nuclear weapons program, it does hold out hope for substantial change.

Accordingly, I no longer want Ahmadinejad to serve as president for a second term but prefer Mousavi in that position. Better yet, of course, would be for neither of them to hold power but for the entire fetid Islamic Republic of Iran to collapse. While confident that process is underway. I have no idea if it is weeks or decades ahead. Whatever it requires, Mousavi as president hastens the process. (June 20, 2009)

“…have transformed Mousavi from a hack Islamist politician…”

Islamist? Islamist? As long as Pipes continues to use the patently dishonest and evasive term “Islamism” for Islam, he will remain a hack Islam critic.

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Ken Hechtman writes:

You wrote:

Islamist? Islamist? As long as Pipes continues to use the patently dishonest and evasive term “Islamism” for Islam, he will remain a hack Islam critic.

Let me ask you this: What word would you use to express the distinction? Pipes is talking about the internal politics of a Muslim country and in that context the distinction is important. One the one hand there are politicians who want to legislate Sharia—the AK party in Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Dawa Party in Iraq, etc. On the other hand, there are politicians who are still Muslim, who go to the mosque and pray facing Mecca and all the rest of it, but they favor a secular legal system—Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in Egypt, the old Ba’athists in Iraq.

Or, talking about Iran, there’s the difference between the kind of politician Mousavi was the last time he was in government and what he now symbolizes to his supporters. Remember, his supporters are chanting “Allahu Akbar” from the rooftops—they are still Muslims and not apostates. So what word would you use to describe that difference?

LA replies:

Oh come on. There are lots of words to express the distinction: hard-line, militant, pro-regime, pro-Khomeinist, believing in apocalyptic return of hidden Imam, etc. Once upon a time, Pipes himself spoke of “militant Muslims.” “Militant Muslims” is ok, as it’s speaking of Muslims who are more activist and militant, not of people following a different belief system from Islam. But then of course he opted for saying that the problem is “radical” islam, which means that “moderate” Islam is ok. Then he went further yet and said that the problem is “Islamism,” which means that Islam per se is ok.

Once upon a time, Pipes also said that Muslim immigration was a problem for this country. That was seven years ago. (See my quote of him at the end of this speech.) I don’t think he’s used the “I” word since.

Neocons, even a moderate neocon like Pipes, are without genuine non-liberal principles, and so they will keep moving to and surrendering more and more to the left.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 20, 2009 11:50 AM | Send

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