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ICC Note:

“You can topple a dictator in a reasonably short period of time. But to build democracy, that’s a generational project – especially in a region where the rule of law has been absent, and the importance of the individual as a citizen is missing… What will replace these regimes? This is the question that the various Christians in the region are asking,” said Habib Malik, a Lebanese Roman Catholic scholar.

By Benjamin Mann

4/13/2011 Egypt, Libya (Catholic News Agency) – Habib Malik, a Lebanese Roman Catholic scholar and human rights advocate, recently warned Western countries to be on their guard against radical Islamic forces that present themselves as political “moderates” in countries such as Libya and Egypt.

“Another fallacy is rearing its head again, and we saw this prior to 9/11,” said Malik in a March 31 address at Washington, D.C.’s Westminster Institute. “It’s now coming back into the discourse, unfortunately, in Washington: this very wrong and dangerous idea that ‘there are moderate fundamentalists and there are radical fundamentalists, and maybe we can talk to the moderate fundamentalists and wean them away from it.’” 

“This is garbage, and nonsense,” said Malik, author of the 2010 book “Islamism and the Future of the Christians of the Middle East,” as he described the notion of “moderate” Islamic radicalism as a fantasy entertained by the West. “It doesn’t exist. There is no such thing. What appears to be moderate can, in an instant, flip and change.”

In both Libya and Egypt, the U.S. State Department has acted and spoken in favor of movements calling for democracy and human rights while avoiding religious rhetoric. However, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood played a significant part in overturning a government they had long opposed in favor of a religious state.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi has acknowledged the presence of fighters linked to al-Qaida among his troops. President Barack Obama told CBS Evening News in March that the Libyan rebels were “saying the right things” and appeared “credible,” although he admitted they might contain “elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests.”

“We all know that he is tethered to a monarchy, the Saudi monarchy that is Wahabi, that is pre-dark-ages in every definition of the term, and that is responsible – through its worldwide propaganda, and the way it has used its money – for producing the kind of virulent Islamism that produced 9/11.”

While Western power entertain hope for democracy and the flourishing of civil society in Egypt and elsewhere, Malik said local Christian communities are concerned with the prospect of other outcomes.

“What will replace these regimes? This is the question that the various Christians in the region are asking,” he noted. “Will it be similarly repressive regimes, reinventing themselves?”

“You can topple a dictator in a reasonably short period of time. But to build democracy, that’s a generational project – especially in a region where the rule of law has been absent, and the importance of the individual as a citizen is missing.”

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