The Arab Spring, mass protests in Iran and their offshoots at Munich’s Marienplatz and in book awards
It looks like the mass protests in Iran are over and silenced at the moment. It is unclear whether it will be for the time being or entirely, or whether they will revive again in a few years. You don’t hear anything anymore, not even on the side of the Iranian opposition, be it Iran International or other media outlets. In Germany there is nothing more about Iran in the media either. Finally, the focus is on the Saudiababia- Iran deal under Chinese mediation, which was seen more as a victory for China and Iran over the West, if you heard anything about mass protests in the Middle East, then it would be the mass protests in Israel, but the movement in Iran seems to be (for the time being ) to have written off. While this time they were directed against the dictatorship itself and no longer had any illusions in a reform Islam, as was the case with the so-called green revolution of the reform mullahs, the Iranian regime seems to have once again succeeded in suppressing and splitting the movement, even if the opposition in exile now agreed on a joint programme. In Germany, too, the Iranian women hype that flared up briefly has now died down. You hear nothing more about Baerbock and feminist foreign policy. Most recently, Iran was still the evening topic of the Berlin Press Ball, but was forgotten just as quickly. Golineh Atai has written a book that was awarded a prize on the anniversary of the book burnings, but is only worth an article in the green alternative newspaper taz.
„Prize for journalist Golineh Atai: Freedom in Iran is female
Golineh Atai’s book “Iran. Freedom is female” can hardly be more actual. It has now been named “The Political Book” of the year. „The freedom of women is the freedom of society,“ women chanted on the streets of Tehran as early as 1979. In September 2022, these protests with the claim “Women. Life. Freedom.” reached a new high. The book “Iran. Freedom is Female” by the author and journalist Golineh Atai, in which she traces the courageous Iranian women’s resistance to the regime for many years. On Wednesday, Atai was awarded the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s „The Political Book 2023“ prize for this.
The mullahs‘ regime controls society through women’s bodies
The French Friedrichstadtkirche on Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin is brightly lit on Wednesday. It is a special day to „celebrate the freedom of speech,“ said Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) in her speech. Because exactly 90 years ago to the day, the book burning by the National Socialists took place not far from here. More than 20,000 books by politically undesirable, especially Jewish, intellectuals were burned, as Bas‘ party colleague Martin Schulz, chairman of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, recalled in the greeting.
Left Iran as a child and never let go
Golineh Atai herself fled Iran to Germany with her parents in 1980 when she was five, but „Iran didn’t want to leave me, even though I left Iran“. Today, the 48-year-old author and long-time TV journalist continues to work in the region; she has headed the ZDF studio in Cairo since January 2022. In the 300-page book, Atai portrays nine women and their very different struggles for their freedom. Her research, praised by the jury as a „great book about the power of female resistance against existing orders“, brings together historical developments and the individual experiences of Iranian women. It shows how the mullahs‘ regime has been controlling society through women’s bodies since 1979 and how this is expressed in laws on divorce and blood feuds. At the same time, it is a very personal book, for which Atai relied on the trust of the women she portrayed. The visibly moved Atai dedicated the award to these women and all anonymous citizens who risk their lives for their freedom.
So people in the self-loving and self-referential Berlin media and politician bubble have gone back to awarding each other prizes and doing a bit of promi-promoting and good guy advertising, because who is against women and would contradict that. It’s very trendy and mainstream. A book and then after reading it burying it on the shelf. that was it? Golineh Atai was already reporting during the Arab Spring, although she said a lot of shit at the time. She claimed that there was a social and a religious wing, a gerontocratic and young, modern wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and also an emancipatory women’s movement of the Muslim Brotherhood. Oh, if only she had asked Hamed Abdel Samad, who was once a Muslim Brotherhood himself and therefore knows the Islamists‘ hidden agenda, structures and tactical deceptions from his own experience. This is the same as saying that the Nazi SA had soup kitchens and was therefore a charitable organization. Well, apparently she no longer falls for this scam as a woman of Iranian origin in view of the mass female protests, like the postmodern, postcolonial gender feminists*, who see the headscarf, burkini and hijab as an emancipatory expression of resistance against imperialism, colonialism and the oppression of women as a sex object of the patriarchy , even though these new feminists have had some difficulties in explaining themselves to traditional feminists and in view of the women’s protests in Iran, which the latter correctly assess as symbols of women’s oppression.
Here is our article from 2011 „Against the trivialization of the Muslim Brotherhood“, the Islamist organisation in the Grater Middle East and Egypt which was so popular at the time from the western side and also with Golineh Atai, as well as the illusions that Ennadah by Gannouchi and the AKP by Erdogan were a kind of Muslim Christian Democrats who will bring the first Islamic democracy. Many were also blinded by comparisons to Iran’s theocracy, especially since the great world explainer Scholl-Latour also babbled on that Iran was electoral and therefore liberal and always boasted his never ending story that he had brought the new Iranian constitution for Khomeini at the time with an airplane into the country. So the angry old white man man seemed to know his stuff. Totally crazy, what a crap the mainstream opinion about the Muslimbrotehr hodd and other Islamsits was at that time right up to the Greens and also in the case of the AKP and the Muslim Brotherhood at Golineh Atai, but she was certainly not alone and reported streamlinedly in the mainstream at the time:
“Against the trivialization of the Muslim Brotherhood
It has become fashionable to play down the Muslim Brotherhood since the Arab bourgeois-democratic revolutions in North Africa. For example in the article in Foreign Affairs:
“The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future CARRIE ROSEFSKY WICKHAM is Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University .
With the end of the Mubarak era looming on the horizon, speculation has turned to whether the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate the new Egyptian political landscape. As the largest, most popular, and most effective opposition group in Egypt, it will undoubtedly seek a role in creating a new government, but the consequences of this are uncertain. Those who emphasize the risk of „Islamic tyranny“ aptly note that the Muslim Brotherhood originated as an anti-system group dedicated to the establishment of sharia rule; committed acts of violence against its opponents in the pre-1952 era; and continues to use anti-Western, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric. But portraying the Brotherhood as eager and able to seize power and impose its version of sharia on an unwilling citizenry is a caricature that exaggerates certain features of the Brotherhood while ignoring others, and underestimates the extent to which the group has changed over time. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67348/carrie-rosefsky-wickham/the-muslim-brotherhood-after-mubarak
In essence, it argues that the Muslim Brotherhood is split between an old gerontocratic and a young modernist wing. Golineh Atai even claimed at Anne Will on ARD that the Muslim Brotherhood has a young and an old wing and its own kind of women’s movement. A majority of German orientalists see the Muslim Brotherhood as a new AKP that will modernize Egypt. And then there is also a distinction: There is a charitable wing of the Muslim Brotherhood that replaces the lack of welfare state in Egypt and is only committed to welfare and charity goals, while a small part of it is a separate anti-Semitic, Islamist remnant group that you have to ignore. Furthermore, it is pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood no longer wants a theocracy and has entered the spectrum of parties quite legally: „Realpolitik under Islamic auspices“ is to be expected (Report on the Protection of the Constitution NRW 2006).
Furthermore, it is argued that the Muslim Brotherhood is not yet a party with its own program and leader, so it will split up and moderate itself. It is true that the Muslim Brotherhood does not yet have an elected leader and a party platform. But that will come soon AND: Their minimum requirement will be Sharia and a state according to Sharia. Hassan El-Banna wrote the program for this and the Muslim Brotherhood has not deviated from it to this day. The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood does not call for theocracy is due to the fact that they themselves have hardly any theologians worth mentioning on their side, let alone an Egyptian Khomeini. But that doesn’t mean that the Muslim Brotherhood wouldn’t call for an Islamist state. It is correct that the Muslim Brotherhood maintains charitable institutions, but it would be the same to say: The NSDAP had an SA and the SA had soup kitchens and therefore the SA would have been the dominant direction and only a social charitable organization. Building welfare and charity grass roots institutions to establish a state within a state, and using them to recruit supporters who want to undermine and overthrow the secular state, is the real end and purpose, not humanity. Ends and means are a bit confused. The so-called women’s movement of the Muslim Brotherhood also only demands equality under the Sharia—it is therefore not a women’s emancipation movement, but rather aimed at the submission of women to men. Declaring the Muslim Brotherhood as a Muslim Christian Democrat CDU, like the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood party Ennadha, overlooks the fact that there is already a split from the Muslim Brotherhood in this direction: the Wasat party. And Erdogan’s AKP doesn’t want an Islamic democracy like Islamophile cranks of SPD, Greens or US Democrats are claiming , but an Islamist dictatorship, albeit not like Iran as a theocracy, but by means of a mass party that wants a presidential dictatorship, elected quite democratically and with what will definitely be the last elections. (http://arabist.net/post-islamist-rumblings-in-egypt-the-emergence-of-the-wasat-party/ See written version: Post-Islamist rumblings in Egypt: the emergence of the Wasat party .Source: The Middle East Journal, Summer 2002 v56 i3 p415(18)
T he Wasat party has split off because the immutability and unteachability of the Muslim Brotherhood – despite its alleged wing of young reformers – because it knows that the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist association for which the legalistic path is only Hitler’s course after his failed putsch at the Munich Feldherrenhalle 1923 : going to parliament and appearing legal, but not canceling anything of their radical Islamic program. That is, the Muslim Brotherhood will be the largest serious anti-secular and anti-Western organization in post-Mubarak Egypt. Isolating, dividing and fighting them will be the greatest challenge for the secular forces in Egypt. This will only happen in cooperation with the Egyptian military and under the condition of social programs that deny the Muslim Brotherhood direct access to the poor sections of Egypt popultaion. Whether this will happen, however, remains questionable. Because the new middle classes are mostly insensitive to the lower classes. But a kind of Bismarck: Fighting Islamists by social legislation and the creation of a social welfare state would be an important thing for Egypt. At the moment the Muslim Brotherhood is still on the defensive, they say they don’t even want to put forward their own presidential candidate, but they will use the time in the next 5 years to prepare for the coming offensive.”
Our “Manifesto of the Left Counterjihad” was accordingly denounced as Islamophobic and AfD-affine by the green, liberal and conservative orientalists.
Coincidentally, this week we got in touch with the last offshoots of the Arab Spring. I was on a pub break in Munich with an American friend on Tuesday. Finally we were in the Glockenspiel Cafe at Marienplatz and got to know a young Tunisian couple. He spoke perfect German, she perfect English and her name was Nur-the light. I also know of a Nur party in Egypt, but they are Wahhabi Salafists backed by Saudi Arabia. She’s the complete opposite, young, modern, secular and pro-Western and Nur is just a name in the Arabic world like Ali or Muhammad. .Of course after a while we talked about the Arab Spring and the situation in Tunisia. They saw the Arab Spring as a disaster, especially in Syria and Libya, and Nur said it would have been better if Ghaddafi had stayed in power than the current situation, just as it was good that Al Sissi couped the Muslim Brotherhood away. When I asked them that Tunisia was the only successful democratic exception and that President Saed now wanted to establish an authoritarian dictatorship, they said that was true, but the democracy movement was too weak and they had no desire for further unrest and chaos or even a seizure of power by the Muslim Brotherhood. The economic situation was so desperate and desolate, youth unemployment so widespread, tourism so devastated by IS attacks and the corona crisis that stability is what is wanted first and foremost. Nur said: We’ll see what comes later. You also have to first reflect on what the Arab Spring actually was, especially since its dynamic carried everyone away and surprised everyone that it was not even possible to think about it or rationalize it, you also have to analyze what mistakes the democracy movements made and first have a learning and reflection phase before engaging in more spontaneous activism, especially since stability is primarily important. Now it is quite possible that Tunesian president Saed, like Erdogan, has some initial successes like most dictators, often especially in the infrastructure sector, which also makes them popular, don’t forget Hitler’s autobahns and job creation measures, whereby they then with increasing power, corruption and mismanagement often quickly lose their shine again or get involved in foreign policy adventures or increasing repression in the face of social dissatisfaction and protests that flare up again. But for the time being the mood seems to be that after the Iraq war, the Arab Spring and its devastation, Islamic State, Islamism, corona and economic crisis due to the Ukraine war , which also conceals the politicans` own mismanagement, many Arab youth seem now to rely more on stability than hope for quick freedom. Whereby China also has the advantage of seeing in authoritarian regimes like itself a suitable partner and also the stability that promotes investments and their economic development project of a New Silk Road and also has its supporters in the Global South.