The Arab Spring

Is strong separation of mosque and state necessary
for the Arab Spring to have meaningful results? Can it be done?
05/20/2011 - 00:42

Ari Siletz

One good rebuttal incognito

by Ari Siletz on

Here's a counter to your non-rhetorical point:

As you correctly point out, Europe secularized with a gun to its head: secularize or suffer endless religious wars. The gun to the head of Islamic countries repeats history in the way history almost repeats itself but never exactly: secularize or suffer endless Western domination.

We've already paid the cost in suffering that Europe paid, about time we collected the goods we paid for.

Why is secular better than religious? Secular cultures adapt to historical climates; if there's an ice age, animal fur becomes fashionable. Religious cultures freeze to death while praying for the summer to return.

Sure, if the West reverts to a predominantly religious mindset--as you suggest with your Judgment Day link-- then History would treat them as mercilessly as it did Muslim countries...selfishly nationalistic  of me perhaps, but I don't want Iran to be lesson to others any more than it has been.




از همه پیغمبران جرجیس؟



Couldn’t you find anyone less discredited than Bernard Lewis? I am not sure if I should dignify his drivel about “the Western tradition” or “an
unnatural aberration which in Iran
has ended.”

With regard to your own statement, allow me to ask a few questions. What is your objection to “drawing a parallel between the Arab Spring and the American Revolution”? Are you concerned that in the post-dictatorial Arab world slavery will not be practiced, or women suffrage will be guaranteed?

Could you tell which religion in power did ever voluntarily and peacefully hand “over political authority to a secular body”? Don’t you know what European religious wars were all about? Why do you expect that secularization of the ME be less costly than what the West experienced in the 16th and 17th centuries?

Lewis’s “unnatural aberration” is a reference to the pseudo-secularism of the Shah’s era, which is demonstrably refuted by Abbas Milani in his The Shah. Contrary to Lewis’s claim, the process of secularization has not yet begun in the ME – unless one is willing to accept as secular Saddam’s Iraq, Assad’s Syria or Mubarak’s Egypt. I do however, share your optimism “that the Arab uprisings will be a forward step for democracy in the region”, as are our own 200 years of small yet costly steps.

P.S. Happy “the Western tradition” of Judgment Day!

Ari Siletz

Separation and repudiation

by Ari Siletz on


I do question President Obama's drawing a parallel between the Arab Spring and the American Revolution. And yes, in Islam handing over political authority to a secular body constitues a repudiation of the religion's principles. I'll throw in a statement by Bernard Lewis who you may abhor, but see if you can refute it in a debate without reference to the possible motives or biases of the person who wrote it:

"When we in
the Western world, nurtured in the Western tradition, use the words
"Islam" and "Islamic", we tend to make a natural error and
assume that religion means the same for Muslims as it has meant in the
world, even in medieval times; that is to say, a section or compartment
of life
reserved for certain matters, and separate, or at least separable, from
compartments of life designed to hold other matters. That is not so in
Islamic world. It was never so in the past, and the attempt in modern
times to
make it so may perhaps be seen, in the longer perspective of history,
as an
unnatural aberration which in Iran
has ended and in some other Islamic countries may also be nearing its
[written in 1988]


By the way, I am hoping against odds that the Arab uprisings will be a forward step for democracy in the region. I am not that thrilled about finding myself in agreement with Lewis on his point regarding Iran.


Since pro-Mubark agitators were possibly also present in the Tahrir crowd, an open and shut case cannot be made against the demonstrators. However the deadly clashes that have happened between Egyptian Muslims and Christians since Mubarak's ouster show that the obstacles to an Egyptian democracy have a religious component and go beyond the ousting of any specific dictator.


Separation of church and state

by incognito on

Separation of church and state has nothing to do with repudiating one’s religion. It’s about taking institutionalized religions out of the public sphere and turning them into personal and private spiritual agencies.

The cartoonist’s acrobatics here betrays an anti-Arab/Islam mindset questioning Obama’s assertion that Arab uprisings have a democratic aspiration.

One would be wise to see demonstrators’ expression of religiosity (such as public prayer) as a shield against dictators’ menacing killing machines, and not as nostalgia for the heydays of Islam. If for no other reasons, Arab uprisings should be commended for their post-ideological inclusiveness.


Does Mr. Siletz have any evidence that anti-Mubarak demonstrators assaulted Logan?

Azadeh Azad

Ali A. Parsa

by Azadeh Azad on

How could you agree with *me* (I am against All organized religions) and Demo who is a Muslim fanatic, at the same time? It is unrealistic to expect Ari to express his thoughts on Catholics, Jews and Evangelists, while he intends to speak of the Arab (=mostly Muslim) Spring. Your talk of the Crusades is a means of censoring others. That has been done before; it does not work.



Ari Siletz

'Cuz Lara Logan was gang raped in Tahrir square

by Ari Siletz on

Ali A Parsa, as soon as her camera batteries went dead, a crowd in Tahrir square tore off journalist Lara Logan's clothes and raped her. Also there has been crowd violence against Christians in Egypt. This gives us serious pause as to whether the Arab Spring is really a liberating phenomenon, as presented by President Obama in his recent Middle East speech, or is there just a superficial point of similarity between the uprisings and real freedom movements: street protests against specific dictatorships. As far as fundamental progress towards democracy goes, for example vis a vis Islam's misogynism (from a modern view) and intolerance of other religions, the cartoon above may reflect reality better than President Obama's presentation of the phenomenon to the American public. Things just look a bit different, but it could be the same ol' same ol'.

Why not pick on Catholics, Jews etc? For one thing, they're not having a big "spring" in the news that is (possibly) bringing about a radical change in US Middle East policy.


Ali A Parsa

You goofed this them Ari

by Ali A Parsa on

I agree with Azadeh, Sousan Khanom Demo and JJ. The rest of the commentors may be right to praise Ari for a laugh, but they miss the big picture. Just how would our troubled world find peace if we all chose to selectively bash one religion and not the others like Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals, and the rest who take comfort in their prayers or pretend that they do? Ari could use his great talent in not promoting another Crusade, but bringing the people of all faiths to gether.




Ari Siletz

By the way, folks

by Ari Siletz on

Today, May 20, is "Everybody draw Moahmmad day 2011." Here is a thoughtful video from a Muslim who supports the event with a caveat:

"Participate in the real Draw Muhammad Day for freedom of speech, expression, and human rights, NOT for bigotry!"

He recommended using calligraphy, and I eagerly surfed for Muslim artists who followed this advice. As far as I know, the only one to be found so far was published on May 18 on our own website. Kudos, JJ.


After remark: This drawing by Ramintork was published on IC on May 19. Because of the calligraphic technique, religion theme and publication date it can be regarded as a coincidental entry.  There are many Iranian artists who incorporate calligraphy in their works, sometimes in protest. To those artists: please participate in the 2012 Draw Mohammad Day. Right now the contest is dominated by bigotry and the artwork is of very poor quality.



by Princess on

Nice work, Ari! I think once the Muslims acquire a sense of humour about their religion they can join the rest of the civilised world.


I agree with Azadeh Azad.

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

We all need to learn to abandon our religiosity and seek the message behind the statement, no matter how offensive or disagreeable we'd find the statement itself.....

And As for Ari himself, he should keep up his cartoons, as he is a mere notch or two away from his objective of getting a fatwa on his head!  

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."

Soosan Khanoom

Azadeh jan

by Soosan Khanoom on

By the word pray I do not necessarily mean " Namaz " that however is included ...

Once I sublet a house from a Hindu family for summer that I spent out of the state doing some work related stuff .....

In one of her closet she had set up a little sweet Sanctuary place.. with her own status of Elephants and Shivas ... a few candles a sweet dried rose and some other stuff ...... 

that scene alone made me so humble ......  

a person has his or her reasons for prayers ....... it is a moment alone with yourself and your thoughts and your beliefs ... whatever that belief is  ..

I am not sure what to make of Ari's Sketch  ... i did not like it really .....

and I do have great sense of humor ..

like I do not mind if someone makes fun of me praying but I can not do it to the others .......  


I am not sure if I get the cartoon

by Bavafa on

But I get the text accompanying it and totally agree with it. A separation of church (religion) and State is a necessity for the democracy in the Arab world and Iran.


Azadeh Azad


by Azadeh Azad on

Very interesting. I also like the colours and the neat drawing.

Sousan jan: You say,"I personaly can not make fun of anyone who is praying.."

Your statement shows your limitation brought about by your religiosity. My late father, who never missed his prayers, would have laughed out loudly at this. That makes you more religious than average.

Be spiritual, not religious! 



Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

This is not funny ......  you have lost much of your credits at least to me ...

but probably you do not care ... you have the entire IC to cheer for you ...

I personaly can not make fun of anyone who is praying in any form , in anywhere, in any religion , in any language , in any situation ..... 

I am not that arrogant  !


Great job Ari.

by aghadaryoosh on

But if I were you Ari, I would have asked "pendar nik" to remedy the craving by laying it down for a while in "poost pesteh" and show the real "Evil assault" result to "Demo".


Sadly In Iran no one can freely publicly make fun of islam.

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

That's a real pity, because as we can all see there is plenty to make fun of.  To have such a ridiculous, backward, ignorant, foolish religion and not be able to make fun of it is a form of cruelty.  Islam=Cruelty

Well done Ari.

Arab Spring roll is turning into Arab Summer Roll.

But wait until you see the Arab fortune cookie.

Poosteh Pesteh


by Poosteh Pesteh on

Dear ari is a good chance you can become the best of clown in america .


Spring Has Sprung!

by Faramarz on


Every kid knows that if you put too much force into your spring, you will fall very hard on the other side on your butt and it will hurt for a while!

Setareh Sabety

Bravo Ari

by Setareh Sabety on

This is really clever. Excellent really, you should enter it in a competition or something. There is so much optimism in it that it actually makes me want to spring up from in front of the computer! Thank you.


The Evil Assault

by Demo on

First of all, there is no such thing as the western invented word of 'mosque' and the proper word is 'masjid' which is a prayers' sancturay and is derived from the word 'sajdah (prostration).'

The prostration before GOD is the most hateful act of them all to the Devil & his companions! These very offensive drawings have therefore nothing to do with the separation of religion & state and they are rather evil assaults to the believers whether Arabs or non-Arabs.

"......but bow down in adoration, and bring thyself the closer (to GOD)" (Quran, Verse 19, Surah 96) 


Show all

by پندارنیک on

Why is #4  defying  gravity? A dropped down outfit would've revealed an Arab quality that many Persians crave


Love it

by ramintork on

Really clever and funny


lol... thanks

by alx1711 on

lol... thanks

Jahanshah Javid

brilliant blasphemy

by Jahanshah Javid on

Just for this you should be hanged! :)))