I can’t quite settle on what shocked the West more: 9/11 or the popular democratic uprisings sweeping throughout the Middle East. 9/11 certainly came easier for some to explain. Testament to this are the endless column inches and books about the otherness of a world of Islamists at war with humanity; added with the current titillating literary imagination of powerless women victims held in bondage by their men and their faith.
That these very Muslims want democracy has to be the real shocker though. Well it certainly negates the truth of all the regular intelligence agency national dossiers, the think tank country profiles, the political proclamations and so on.
As I try to search for answers of such gross miscalculation. I can’t help but remember personal encounters with such experts. I had written a book about the phenomenon of the Iranian blogosphere that a Times columnist had quoted from telling his readers that “Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, the head of the Iranian judiciary, recently described the Internet as a ‘Trojan Horse carrying enemy soldiers in its belly.’”
Within days I received a gentle enquiring email from an Iran-based foreign correspondent of a renowned western publication asking me about the source of the quote.… Read the rest