One of the main goals of the LIVIT project is to examine the much "mediatised" topic of violence in Islamic thought on a scholarly level and to share the outcome of our research. This does not apply to the following note that presents some personal opinions rather than the results of a scholarly study. The provocative style of some of the statements is deliberate. A neutral note is sometimes difficult to recall. Due to the ongoing events, I gave up looking for Internet links in order to put this note on the website as quickly as possible.

Two weeks ago I met a senior academic of Tunisian origin. He was in a state of revolutionary euphoria. This state of mind presupposes the experience of living under oppression and having the chance to get liberated from it. I had the same experience in 1989 when communist rule was crashed in Hungary and subsequently in all Eastern Europe. There are also examples from Egypt.  What comes after this euphoria? This question worries everyone concerned with the future of Tunisia, Egypt and the whole Islamic World.

In order to predict the outcome of these revolutions we should know with certainty who triggered them and who is or who will be controlling them. The Romanian revolution in 1989, that cost the lives of hundreds of citizens,  started as protest in defence of the Transylvanian Hungarian Calvinist priest L. Tőkés and was a cathartic event subsequently “hijacked” by the “old guard”. The destiny of the current revolutions in countries with Muslim majority depends greatly on those who maintain the oppressive regimes, i. e. the Western powers and the local armed forces. It is clear that the international media and the modern means of communications (such as mobiles phones and Internet) offered new weapons to the revolutionaries who had grown used to being disadvantaged in the face of governments which had previously held exclusive control of both the media and the organised armed forces.

The recurring question is how can the destructive flames of despair turn into the sound reconstruction of entire societies, providing health, wealth, stability and welfare to its citizens?  If the goals of the liberated (and the liberators) are too diverting, chaos and civil war follow, as after the “liberation” of Iraq.

In the case of Eastern Europe the goal seemed to be very clear: to join the West. In Tunisia the call of Islamist radicals seems to be much less strong than the appeal of Western consumer society, so we can expect a similar aspiration. However considering the forced westernization of social customs and traditions by the oppressive regime of Ben Ali, the outcome can still provide us with surprises. Egypt is a huge sick elephant, and the West, as well as the oligarchies of the region, are concerned about what will come out if its old skin tears.