The Arab revolutions and nonviolence
Amara Lakhous 14 July 2011

According to the protesters, the military council that seized power after the fall of Mubarak has not fulfilled its commitments. First of all, the military courts continue to prosecute civilians as happened before with the state of emergency, the trials of the family of former President and the men of corrupt old regime go slowly.

I think that the choice of young people in Tunisia and Egypt to abandon violence is the great turning point in the Arab world. It is not wrong to argue that nonviolence is the basis of success that led to the end of totalitarian regimes like those of Bin Ali and Mubarak.

I did high school in Algiers in the second half of the eighties. Our teacher of History, a former partisan of the Algerian war of liberation, was always criticizing and making fun of Gandhi. He said: “Algeria could not drive out the French with the nonviolence of that very slim and half naked man! Our country was liberated by the blood shed by its children”.

In 1991 after the cancellation of the first round of legislative elections won by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), the Algerian fundamentalists came to a tragic conclusion: violence is the only way to get power. I remember a slogan written in big letters in a popular district of Algiers at the time: “You have silenced the polls, but guns have spoken.”

The result was dramatic: in a few years, terrorism has claimed more than one hundred and fifty thousand victims, mostly civilians. Fortunately, in other Arab countries the damage was limited, the terrorists have failed to emulate the Algerian script in order to complete their project of destruction. Today, the Arabic revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria show that the choice of non-violence is more effective and functional to change things. So perhaps it is time to do serious critic of the Jihad (Holy War) doctrine and especially to Arabize and Islamize Gandhi’s thought.

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