Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Radical Islam pops up in the most unexpected places. Cape Town, South Africa, for instance, where a vigilante group calling itself People Against Gangsterism And Drugs seems to have gotten itself infiltrated by a Hizbollah-inspired group called Qibla, which wants to bring something like Sharia law to the country. Hence, the expansion of PAGAD's program from death threats against drug dealers, to the bombing of a Planet Hollywood.

It's worth pointing out that the reason people joined PAGAD in the first place was because crime in South Africa has become truly horrific, and the government has provided no answer to the situation which citizens believe. So here, at least, Peter Beinart argues,

militant Islam isn't a phenomenon of the left--powered by the anarchic poor and the intellectuals who harness them to create futuristic utopias. It's often a phenomenon driven by the American right's favorite class, the petit bourgeois: the people who tend small shops and tiny houses, who believe in family, faith, property, and order. And who see those values threatened by rising lawlessness, and by governments too corrupt and too ill-equipped to keep them safe.

Which fits with the more general theme that I've mentioned before, that Islamic fundamentalist movements have an established history of gaining adherents by addressing serious social needs which the government is unable, or unwilling, to meet. On the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas runs medical clinics. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood which provides social services and the terrorists who are trying to overthrow the secular state are so close as to seem two sides of the same coin (and remember, bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, emerged from this milieu as a leader of Islamic Jihad).

Which suggests there's more than a financial bill for IMF austerity plans which demand governments cut services to the bone and put foreign bankers ahead of their own citizens, or even forbid governments from spending their foreign aid money on schools and hospitals.

But that's another rant...


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