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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 01/19/2011

Tunisia sends shock waves

By Jennifer Rubin

There is an interesting debate to be had on the degree to which the Iraqis' introduction to democracy impacted Tunisians. But some powerful evidence comes from Tunisia's role in spurring Muslims in other nations to challenge their oppressors.

We have already seen evidence of this -- marches in Algeria and Egypt and, horrifyingly, self-immolations throughout the region. One wonders what the Green Revolution activists must be thinking. As Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies remarked to me last night, "Perhaps that Iranians who would like more freedoms are watching Tunisia, too -- as is the Iranian regime that has no intention of permitting such freedoms."

Meanwhile, in the oppressive Kingdom of Saud, bloggers are in rebellion against the authoritarian regime. This report explains:

The new Executive Regulation for Electronic Publishing Activity, which came into force on 1st January, bans many from writing about news. Chat room users are encouraged to register with the government - and internet users faces strict rules which do not allow them to criticise Islam or compromise public order. . . . In spite of the restrictions, Saudis flocked on-line to protest at their government's decision to welcome Tunisia's former president Ben Ali, the Financial Times reported at the weekend.

Saudi users bombarded micro-blogging site Twitter with messages using the hashtag #sidibouzid - the town at the heart of the Tunisian revolution - helping to spread news, pictures and videos of the protests in the country. . . .

Reaction among some Saudi bloggers to the new restrictions has been angry, with at least one popular English-language blogger declaring in a post that he would not register.

No, they are not yet marching in the streets in Saudi Arabia. But throughout the Middle East Muslims are asking themselves: "If Tunisians, why not me?" And that is how freedom spreads -- by example and inspiration.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 19, 2011; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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"No, they are not yet marching in the streets in Saudi Arabia. But throughout the Middle East Muslims are asking themselves: "If Tunisians, why not me?" And that is how freedom spreads -- by example and inspiration."

No that is how fanaticism spreads. Democracy proponents don't set themselves on fire. Do you really think that the type of groups who do this would be happy with the concept of a "loyal opposition" so essential to a democracy?

In another life, I was present when a member of the People's Mojahedin of Iran aka MEK, set himself on fire at a demonstration in front of the French Embassy in DC. Luckily for him, he was literally across the street from Georgetown Hospital and survived. Speaking with the group, I can assure you that these are not your garden variety Polish shipyard workers in Gdansk.

So perhaps you would address this aspect Jennifer. You have protested more than once about the fanaticism being taught in Saudi schools, full of anti-Israeli and anti-US propoganda. Would you expect that the graduates of these schools would make good Saudi delegates in a democratic government?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 19, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

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