A non-controversial proposal; Arabs have right to vote for whomever they want

Here’s to small blessings. A rather good editorial in today’s Sydney Morning Herald that calls for a re-thinking of years of imperial attitudes in the Arab world and an opening to Islamists who get elected. Bravo:

The patronising orientalism that the Arabs or even Muslims in general are somehow culturally conditioned to political slavery is being ripped up in front of our eyes. It is a time of great upheaval, partly the result of an open information age that perhaps ironically one of the Gulf’s autocrats, Qatar’s emir, embraced with his sponsorship of the pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera. It will be hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

The West is left looking flat-footed by developments. Britain has been shamelessly cosying up to Gaddafi. America has relied on regimes now facing popular uprisings. Even Australia has its substantial military presence at the Al Minhad Air Base in Dubai.

The situation demands a steady stand on principles by our governments, firmly supporting the right to free expression. We should be ready to accept, as the West hasn’t always done (as in Algeria, Gaza and Lebanon), that free elections sometimes may not bring the results we want.

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