February 24, 2011

An Afghanistan in the Mediterranean?

Two scenarios of the Arab revolution. That of Egypt, with an unprecedented alliance between Christians and Muslims. And that of Libya, where the collapse of the regime paves the way for radical Islamism. Take a look at the analysis of Khaled Fouad Allam, as expounded in an article by Sandro Magister.

The picture that emerges […] is that of a Muslim world that is much more fragile and disorganized than is usually imagined. Much more varied. Much more exposed to secularization and to the languages of global communication, universal but still uncertain in meaning.

Yet, this doesn’t apply to all of the Arab countries in revolt today. In fact, there is one exception. That exception is Libya:

Libya has never been a homogeneous nation. It is a tangle of Arab, Berber, and African tribes, for each of which group loyalty matters more than anything else. At the outbreak of the revolt, entire cities and regions were quickly made autonomous.

In Libya there are no real and proper state institutions, no parliament, no army that could assume power, as happened in Egypt, and ensure a smooth transition.

For Gaddafi, the "revolution" was the state, and the state was him. His was an "Islamic Maoism" purified of the prophetic tradition, the Sunna, which made him foreign and distasteful to the bulk of the Sunni Muslim world itself.

Paradoxically, the tyranny of Gaddafi guaranteed the Catholic Church levels of freedom greater than in any other Muslim country of the region.

The downfall of Gadaffi may therefore coincide with the total collapse of Libya. Which could become – Allam warns – "an Afghanistan in the Mediterranean."

An Algerian with Italian citizenship, Khaled Fouad Allam is professor of Sociology of the Muslim world and History and Institutions of the Islamic countries at the Universites of Trieste, Urbino and at the Stanford University of Florence.


  1. Interesting take on what's happening in Libya. Thank you for your insight.

  2. Hi Diana, glad you liked the post, and thanks for stopping by!