Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lost in the darkness

Zanzibar is sinking. ZANZIBAR, Tanzania - Zanzibar's mosques are fuller on Fridays, more women are wearing head scarves and more Muslim men are showing calluses created by frequently touching their foreheads to the ground in prayer. A growing number of Zanzibaris are turning toward a stricter form of Islam and possibly away from democracy ahead of this fall's elections, expected to be a volatile affair. Multiparty politics "has brought nothing but tragedy," said Abdallah Mohammed Suleiman, 42, who sells imported clothes. "The best solution (is) to uphold our religious values, that is Islamic values, or revert to single party rule. "After all, Islam is the sole unifying factor in Zanzibar." Fundamentalist clerics see an opportunity, offering Islamic law as an alternative to democracy, arguing that would bring discipline and moral values to political leadership. "We clearly see a vacuum that could be filled by the Islamist system that could show people that democracy — which they hoped would enable them to elect leaders they want, people with integrity — has failed," said Abdallah Said Ali, secretary of Society for Islamic Awareness and Preaching in Zanzibar. I wonder if the Guardian will still encourage boycotting tourism there, as they were last year, now that it's becoming more identifiably part of greater body of fundamentalist authoritarian hellholes so beloved by the contrarian left? It's certainly even more dangerous for decadent westerners now than then: Islamists in Zanzibar can be forceful when enforcing their brand of the faith. "These days you cannot see tourists who are half-naked walking on our streets," Said Ali said, referring to attacks on women wearing short dresses in Zanzibar. Early this year four Islamic clerics attacked a Zanzibari man who had reportedly planned a same-sex commitment ceremony similar to a wedding. The preachers were charged with abduction, a price they said they were willing to pay to show their commitment to their faith. Not to still be beating a dead horse on the matter of SSM, but...anything that so enrages fundamentalist Islamists - coequal for them, apparently, with the heresy of democracy - is certainly worth doing on those grounds alone. (Via LGF.)

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