Consider just a small part of what’s gone on in Tunisia, a relatively moderate country where the radical Islamists “only” got 40 percent of the vote and were forced to lead the country from within a coalition with moderate, secular parties.
Hundreds of Salafis rioted in several cities and set fire to police stations as well as the offices of non-Islamist parties and secular-led trade unions. A truck carrying alcoholic drinks was set ablaze, too, as were shops selling electronic goods, providing access to “immoral” entertainment. Salafis using clubs and stones attacked police who fired in the air to escape. Shooting at the demonstrators would recall memories of the old regime and lead to even worse rioting. An art gallery whose exhibition was labelled immoral was hit with firebombs, almost killing staff members. Eighty-six rioters were arrested; at least one man died.
But this is only the start.
Do not take this kind of thing in isolation, for it is the harbinger of a new era. In Egypt, Tunisia, and other places where the hand of dictatorship is weakened or removed, political violence–and its more self-interested sibling, crime–is going to flourish.
On one hand, the Salafis, joined at times by Muslim Brothers, are going to burn and attack churches and strike at Christians; destroy old non-Muslim cemeteries; attack symbols of modern culture; close down aspects of secular education including university courses; harass and beat women wearing “non-Islamic” clothing; kill or injure secularists and stop them from meeting or speaking; go after Western tourists; and a whole long list of other such activities. One item on this list could well be attacks on American citizens or installations.
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