The recent wave of popular uprising across the Arab world triggered by the self immolation of Tunisia's Mohammed Bouazzi has fuelled joyous speculations of democratic change sweeping Arabia, not unlike the 1989 collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.

First Tunisia, then Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Bahrain and now Libya; the protests seem to be spreading like wild fire. But before we get carried away by such lofty ideals like “freedom” and “democracy” which have different meaning for Muslims, it is necessary to tamper such delusions with a dose of realism.

In all the aforementioned Arab countries experiencing mass uprising, Islamists are the best organized opposition groups poised to take advantage of the political turmoil and seize power.

In Egypt it's the Muslim Brotherhood, in Tunisia it's Ennhada, in Yemen Al-Qaeda and Shiite Houthis are running amok, in Bahrain it's the pro-Iranian Shiite group Al-Wefaq, in Libya it's the LIFG (Libya Islamist Figthing Group) based in Benghazi where the on-going anti-Ghaddafi protests started.

Not surprisingly, a group of Islamic clerics in the Arab world recently issued a communiqué endorsing the current popular revolts, but warned against democracy.

Despite the military takeover, Egypt is not yet out of the Islamist woods as the post-Mubarak junta has invited the Muslim Brotherhood to partake in the on-going review of Egypt's constitution that already proclaims Islam state religion.

Consequently, hundreds of Coptic Christians recently demonstrated for a secular constitution, but it is unlikely their protests will be heeded.

Even under the supposedly religiously tolerant Mubarak, Copts suffered terribly as they were discriminated against, violently assaulted, denied permits to build churches, and their women were frequently abducted then forcibly converted for marriage to Muslims.

One can only imagine their horror as the Muslim Brotherhood the best organized opposition group, waits in the wings to for the right opportunity to seize power.

The prospect of impending Islamist takeover and oppressive imposition of totalitarian Sharia that negates democracy, is not at all far-fetched as it happened 3 decades ago in Iran after a similar popular revolt against the Shah.

Little did Iranians then know that they had jumped from fry pan to fire as the Mullahs later proved to be more brutal and tyrannical, murdering tens of thousands of Iranians over the last 3 decades - including the infamous 1983 hanging of 10 Bahai women for heroically refusing to convert to Islam.

Not surprisingly, the present Iranian tyranny (Ahmedinajad and Ali Khamenei) has been goading Arab demonstrators even as the despotic duo brutally repress Iran's own resilient pro-democracy movement which gathered momentum after Ahmedinajad rigged himself to power in June 12, 2009.

Already, Egypt's post-Mubarak junta has started hobnobing with the Mullah tyranny in Iran - allowing Iranian navy ships through the Suez canal for the first time in 30 years.

Furthermore, Iran is suspected to be behind the protests of the Shiite majority in Bahrain, which Teheran claims used to be part of Iran. Agent provocateurs from Hezbollah - the Shiite Iranian proxy in Lebanon - were arrested during the recent Bahraini protests.

It is noteworthy that the same Iran was also recently implicated in arms smuggling into Naija, as well as through Sudan to Gaza. For similar reasons of arms smuggling, Senegal just broke off diplomatic relations with Teheran.

The religiously intolerant mindset of Muslim Arabs plays right into the hands of Islamists. A recent Zogby/University of Maryland poll in Egypt conducted last year found that:

65% believe that Islamic clergy must play a greater role in the Egyptian political system (read Sharia)

84% of Egyptian Muslims support the death penalty for Muslims who leave the religion of Islam

82% of Egyptian Muslims support stoning to death for extramarital sex

77% of Egyptian Muslims support public whippings and amputation of limbs for theft

What kind of animals think it's alright to kill someone for exercising his/her God-given right to change/choose his/her religion? Meaningful democracy must of necessity be secular in order to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race or religious belief.

Clearly the overwhelming majority of Muslim Egyptians don't want that. Thus when in 2005 Mubarak organized multiparty elections, Muslim Brotherhood candidates emerged the largest opposition group, even though the brotherhood was officially banned from the election.

Similarly in 2005, Hamas - a Muslim Brotherhood off-shoot - won parliamentary elections and seized control of Gaza. The Palestinian terror group then hounded out all opposition and hasn't bothered to organize another election since then.

In Algeria two decades ago, it was FIS (Islamic salvation front) which swept the elections, even though the Islamist group pledged to end the un-Islamic practice of democracy once they assume power.

The largely secular Algerian military wouldn't stand for that and terminated that abortive experiment in democracy, thereby plunging the North African nation into a decade long Islamist insurgency that wasted an estimated 150,000 Algerian lives.

Four months ago in Bahraini parliamentary elections, Al-Wefaq, the Shiite Islamist party that wants to drag that tiny Gulf Arab state back into the barbarism of Mohammed's 7th century Arabia, emerged the most popular party.

Thus it is clear that whenever free & fair democratic elections are conducted in the Arab world, Islamists who cannot be relied upon to sustain meaningful democracy, often end up seizing power.

Accordingly Hezbollah, the only armed political faction in Lebanon - better armed than the Lebanese army - refuses to disarm in violation of UN resolution 1701, and continues to hold that country's democracy to ransom.

Just last month (January 2011), the Lebanese Shiite Islamist party brought down the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri after the latter tendered a UN investigative report implicating Hezbollah in the 2005 murder of his father - former Prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Muslim abhorrence of secularism is also the reason democracy has failed to take root in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan despite American intervention/support. But for Iraq's invidious Sunni/Shiite sectarian divide, which could be easily resolved by secularism, the oil-rich Arab nation should by now have been transformed into a regional model of democratic prosperity.

Contrast that with the post-WWII American occupation of Japan and Germany, which helped transform these former tyrannical enemies into technologically advanced global economic powers.

Even here in Naija, Islamists nearly derailed our nascent democracy, when the paedophile ex-Zamfara governor shouted “Sharia”, and other northern governors immediately fell into line. Boko Haram is an off-shoot of that Sharia agitation.

I hope to be proved wrong, but democracy as we infidels understand it, is unlikely to emerge from the current Arab uprising. Either totalitarian Islamists seize power in the event of free elections, or some Mubarak, Sadam Hussein, Ben Ali or Ghaddafi type quasi-secular despot emerges to keep Islamists from power.

Nothing in this write-up is justifies Ghaddafi's brutal crackdown on his citizens, the nutjob tyrannt has clearly gone bonkers. Never mind that Libyan Islamists raided a military arms depot in the port city of Derna, arming themselves for eventual takeover.

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Articles by Nafata Bamaguje