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When Arab Ghosts Of The Past Come Back To Life

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, March 23

Almost eight years after the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East, propelling millions of men and women onto the streets to protest against despots, some Arab societies seem to have forgotten the meaning of liberty and freedom. In several of these countries, calls have recently been made to allow tyrants (or their relatives) to return to power. In Yemen, for example, growing swaths of the population have been calling for the cousin of former president Ali Abdallah Saleh to be appointed president. They seem to have forgotten the role Saleh played in fueling the current war in the country, which has claimed the lives of over 5,000 innocent civilians. Allowing Saleh’s cousin to assume power would be nothing short of a disgrace. In an even more shocking turn of events, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the second-born son of former Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, has announced his intention to run for president in elections expected later this year. Without a semblance of shame or dishonor, a Gaddafi spokesperson announced that “the majority” of Libyan people support Seif al-Islam’s candidacy. Again, too many appear to have forgotten the havoc the former dictator wreaked upon Libya, robbing the country blind and stripping the Libyan people of their dignity. There too, thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives due to crimes committed by the ruling family. To add insult to injury, some Iraqis are now publicly lauding the era of Saddam Hussein, expressing their longing for the Butcher from Baghdad who incarcerated, tortured, and murdered thousands of men and women. Yes, it is certainly normal for people to romanticize the past and long for better days—but it is reprehensible, indeed appalling, when victims of abuse begin sympathizing with their oppressors. Bringing tyrants back from the dead is a mistake that will set the Arab world many years back.  – Mashari al-Zaidi

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