North Africa and the Middle East are in flames. The revolt began in Tunisia and inspired the Egyptian people to follow suit. The world stood in shock and wonder for two weeks as the people of Egypt stood up to Hosni Mubarak, the man who had controlled their nation for over 30 years. Now the revolution has spread to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and beyond.
All people are made in God’s image and are hardwired for freedom. We are watching a revolt against an old order, dictators who are by nature oligarchic and largely secular. Protesters longing for freedom are willing to risk arrest and even life itself. On one level it is exciting to watch.
At the same time, we have cause for concern. Will these revolutions bring freedom? Or will a new religious tyranny grow from the Islamic roots in the region? While human beings have a God-given impulse to live free, not all moral visions and metaphysical infrastructures produce free and pluralistic societies. Fundamentalist Islam produced the religious tyranny of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Mullahs in Iran. The same could happen in north Africa and other current hot spots.
I must admit that I am of two minds about the events of this young year in North Africa and the Middle East. On the one hand I have hope for this impulse of people longing to live in freedom. On the other hand is the reality that freedom is born of a Judeo-Christian worldview. If the reformist minority of Muslims who desire to live in modern pluralist societies could give leadership for these new beginnings, there is hope for the future of North Africa and the Middle East. However, if the fundamentalist majority gains control and establishes Sharia law throughout the region, those who long for freedom will be ruled by religious tyranny and the world will be a much more dangerous place.
We need to hope and pray for the best outcome for these children of Abraham, while at the same time preparing for the worst.
– Darrow Miller