Amid fighting, protests, and coups, it has all gotten very confusing in the Middle East. Is it “democracy” or “not-democracy”? “Freedom” or “un-freedom”? Are the good guys winning or the bad guys?
Karl reMarks steps in to save the liberal day with this guide to all those who are not “Al Qa’eda”, “terrorist”, “extremist”, or religiously-inclined:
Everyone agrees that secularists are the real force behind the “Arab Spring”, yet we know so little about this obscure of group of people that toils in virtual anonymity. Aside from the occasional foray onto the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, and international leadership conferences, that is.
But who are these people really? To answer that question, we commissioned an authoritative study that will for the first time shed light on Arab secularists, their different political groups, and what their favourite drinks are.
The liberals are the granddaddies of all Arab secularists. They see themselves as the vanguard in the fight against Islamists, and they often say things like: “this is not my true Islam”, despite not having set foot in a mosque for 17 years. They mostly work for the UN, the World Bank, and western think tanks, but this doesn’t fool Arab leftists who know that this is the perfect cover for the western imperialist conspiracy.
Like their western counterparts, Arab liberals are very flexible about their principles these days. After all, dogma isn’t useful to anyone. They show this open-mindedness by making statements like: “Is voting really necessary for democracy?” and “should illiterate people have the right to vote?” But somehow this intellectual courage is often mistaken as an expression of Fascist tendencies.
Arab liberals like to describe themselves as ‘entrepreneurs’, both in the intellectual and business sense. They’re really cool like that. But for some reason they don’t like to advertise the fact that they’re working for the family company which has a monopoly on BMW spare parts in the entire Levant.
Major locations: Liberals describe themselves as “based between Vienna and Cairo”, by which they mean they go to Egypt for five days a year to visit Auntie Samiha in Zamalek.
Favourite drinks: Whiskey. Or Pepsi if they’re really devout.
The libertarians are liberals who also like porn. The good porn with pictures and stuff, not the complicated type in serious novels that liberals and leftists like.
It used to be said that “when it rains in Moscow, Arab communists open their umbrellas.” But since the demise of the Soviet Union, Arab communists have been wandering around aimlessly, mostly trying to organise the third annual party conference that will bring new blood in. The second conference was organised 47 years ago.
While waiting for the objective conditions to ripen, Arab communists spend their time calling each other ‘comrade’ and talk about workers’ rights in the abstract. Someone promised to introduce them to some workers and they’re very excited about that.
Major locations: London, Paris, and one street in Beirut.
Favourite drink: cheap vodka.