In the search for a sense of dignity, basic services and honesty, Arabs from all walks of life are turning to fundamentalist groups that have succeeded where their own governments have failed. ?I have more faith in Islam than in my state; I have more faith in Allah than in Hosni Mubarak,? said one educated middle-class Egyptian woman.
Hezbollah’s perceived victory over Israel has only helped to enhance the growing stature of Islamism in forming a regional identity.
New York Times:
Hezbollah?s perceived triumph has propelled, and been propelled by, a wave already washing over the region. Political Islam was widely seen as the antidote to the failures of Arab nationalism, Communism, socialism and, most recently, what is seen as the false promise of American-style democracy. It was that wave that helped the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood win 88 seats in Egypt?s Parliament last December despite the government?s violent efforts to stop voters from getting to the polls. It was that wave that swept Hamas into power in the Palestinian government in January, shocking Hamas itself.
?We need an umbrella,? said Mona Mahmoud, 40, Jihan?s older sister. ?In the 60?s, Arabism was the umbrella. We had a cause. Now we lack an umbrella. We feel lost in space. We need to be affiliated to something. Usually in our part of the world, because of what religion means to us, we immediately resort to it.?
The lesson learned by many Arabs from the war in Lebanon is that an Islamic movement, in this case Hezbollah, restored dignity and honor to a bruised and battered identity. People in Egypt still talk painfully about the loss to Israel in 1967, a loss that was the beginning of the end of pan-Arabism as an ideology to unite the region and define its people.
Illustration by Peter Scheer
Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah provided a victory not just for his own organization but for Islamism’s growing influence in the region.