Rabat- With a matchless spontaneity and an even more commendable honesty, the Algerian singer Khaled said that he supports the candidacy of Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fourth term, despite all the demonstrations and protests that the country is facing.
“At least, with Bouteflika, you can now go out with friends and go in palaces in Algeria,” Khaled said. “You can order a glass of whiskey and drink it. I must say it in the clearest and the most sincerely way of the world.”
Khaled doesn’t support the sick candidate for a fourth term because he has a convincing political, economic and social program… No. He supports him because thanks to Bouteflika, he can drink alcohol in public places.
This makes Bouteflika a popular candidate because he defends a particular lifestyle based on individual freedom and an open society. The people in Algeria fear these freedoms will evaporate if the president is not reelected.
What Khaled said, spontaneously and frankly, is an opinion shared by the Maghreb and Arab elites who avoid declaring this support openly themselves. These people are afraid to see the fundamentalists coming: the great opponents of whiskey in front of (and on behalf of) the Lord– the great enemies of a liberal life.
These elites are fighting against any democratic changes in our societies. They fear to see the bearded take positions of power with the hopes to remove certain benefits and freedoms. They hide behind slogans, ideas and attitudes that don’t accurately reflect their fears for their personal freedom, provided by despotic regimes led by secular elites (socialist, liberal or nationalist).
So, the secular in our country are struggling against democracy because it could bring in the Islamists. But the latter, unfortunately, represent the majority in these conservative societies.
Groups aim to be dictatorial because their despotism is political. The Islamists despotism affects the societal norm, impacting daily routines and personal choices. As between two evils, namely two dictatorships, you need to choose the lesser. Then go with the seculars… So how can we move away from this system that only offers autocratic government or an opposition that is just as much autocratic?
There is, of course, a solution, that can be valid only if we consider as a mistake to have to choose between these two camps. What secular and Islamists have retained from democracy is the power of the ballot box, that allows the majority, the day after the elections, to dominate a minority. And this is a serious mistake.
Democracy is a package of principles, rules and practices including: protection of individual freedoms, separation and balance of powers, freedom of the press, and rights for minorities…. The system that defends the right of minorities is always democracy, not absolutism.
An elected government has no right to ban someone from drinking alcohol, a woman from going to the beach or a girl from wearing jeans. This comes, indeed, under the individual freedoms. People who know their freedoms and the meaning of democracy can’t accept the guardianship or autocracy, even if it’s religious. This is true that in Afghanistan, Sudan or Iran, a particular way of life is imposed by the political powers by force. But they arrived at the head of their country by violence, coup, revolution, and armed conflict. Not in a democratic way.
A large part of the political, cultural and media elites fears or feared the Arab Spring, and didn’t support the enthusiasm of young people in their respective countries for democracy. These elites feared for their lifestyles and finally chose autocracy and despotism instead of freedom and liberalism.
Translated by Nahla Landoulsi. Edited by Saba Naseem