Mar 26, 2011

More than Just the Muslim Brotherhood Stirring the Arab World.

Recently the Arab world has been rocked by recent revolutions and uprisings by its citizens against their governments. Absolute dictatorships have ruled the Middle East and North Africa for the past 60 years and the people are finally fed up with it.  Arabs are some of the most oppressed peoples in the world. 

It all started with a Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire as a result of his helpless situation.  This led to a revolution in Tunisia that toppled the autocratic government in just a few days.  No one ever expected this to happen. The Arab people have been “enslaved” by their governments and police forces for decades.  As a result, the Arab people have always known deep inside that they have little power and freedom.

Mubarak and Sadat moments before the assassination.
But when the Arab people from Morocco all the way to Oman witnessed the fall of Tunisia, they were emboldened to see the same thing happen in their own countries.  "If Tunisia could do it, so can we!"  Egypt was the next to fall.  No one ever expected that the almighty reign of President Mubarak would fall after only 17 days of bloodless protests led by the youth of the country.  He had absolute power for 30 years and seemed invincible.  Furthermore, to have government ministers arrested and indicted on charges of corruption and murder is unbelievable.

Goliath has been slain in Egypt and Egyptians, both Muslims and Christians, are now proud to be Egyptian for the first time in decades.  Of course, reform doesn’t happen overnight and there is a long, painful road ahead, but the Egyptian people finally had the courage to stand up for themselves and find some dignity as citizens of Egypt.

The situation in Libya and Yemen is different in that these countries are tribal in nature.  Who knows what will happen if the central government collapses.  Will they become another Somalia?  A big difference between these two countries and Egypt is that the military has fired upon its own people.  This has led to more deaths and violence. 

Needless to say, Arab leaders have been shaking in their boots.  Even Oman and Bahrain, peaceful countries you never hear of in the news, are having their share of protests.  It is surprising to see protests in Oman where Sultan Qaboos is generally well-liked.  There are even protests in Saudi Arabia, the giant of them all. Last week, two thousand troops from Saudi Arabia and five hundred from the UAE entered into Bahrain to quell the protests there.  The kings of the Arabian Peninsula are supporting each other against opposition to their absolute power.

Mohammed ElBaradei and his wife Aida.
In short, these uprisings are economic/political in nature (though Bahrain’s protests have devolved into sectarianism between the Shias and Sunnis).  The Arab people have lived under corrupt totalitarianism for too long.  But the question everyone is asking is “Will Islamic groups come to power as a result?”  In my opinion, this is a real possibility.  They did not lead the revolutions but they are certainly taking advantage of the chaos in order to gain more power.  For instance, there was a historic referendum in Egypt this past weekend where millions of Egyptians voted freely for the first time in their lives.  However, 77% of the vote went in favor of what the Muslim Brotherhood wanted.  In addition, Mohammed ElBaradei, a candidate for the presidency, was prevented from voting in this referendum by a group of angry thugs who threw objects and insults at him. He wanted to vote against the Muslim Brotherhood.

No one knows what will happen in the future.  It can turn out for the worse or be a catalyst for genuine change and reform.  Is it worth the risk?  Is it worth setting up a democratic process where Islamic elements can take over a country? Societal conditions have been so corrupt that sometimes only a revolution can begin a new journey towards freedom.  And there are encouraging signs such as this statement out of Tunisia after its revolution and martyrdom of a Polish Catholic priest:  "The day after the Polish Catholic priest was killed, thousands went out to shout - Tunis is yours, Tunis is mine, Tunis is not religious, we do not want Islam to govern us."

Whatever happens, God is sovereignly working out all things according to his will.  It’s not like these revolutions and the recent tsunami in Japan have caught Him by surprise!!!  He has a plan for the peace and prosperity of the Arab and Japanese people and for all the peoples of the world.  Just read Isaiah 19:25 - “The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying ‘Blessed be Egypt my people.’”  

And let’s not forget the real tragedy here.  What the Arab World needs the most is not political reform but spiritual transformation in Jesus Christ!  Look at the countries involved – Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Oman.  These are some of the most unreached nations on planet earth.  There are just a handful of known believers in each of these countries.  You can’t even put a percentage on how many known believers there are because there are so few.  So above all else, let’s pray for a spiritual revolution led by the Holy Spirit! God has promised to build his church and the Arab world is no exception. This may be just the beginning of a new phase of God’s redemptive plan for nations where a few Christians reside.

Assassination of Sadat and wounding of Mubarak.

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