A lot of the press sees Islam as a monolith, and Arabs as all alike.

So they tend to love photos of “rageboy“, cropping the edges to make it seem like professional demonstrators are the norm, while ignoring the millions who just want to go on their daily lives peacefully.

There has been only a few stories about the arrest by the Iranian government of hundreds of democracy activists, labour leaders, feminists, and students.  But the crackdown has also extended to ordinary people, with the IHT reporting that

“Iran’s police chief boasted that 150,000 people were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic – a number far larger than in springs past.”

When 150 000 people are arrested or fined for having the wrong tee shirt, then you know that something is happening…Iranian women aren’t likely to put up with shapeless chadors any more than Chinese women put up with identical mao suits. In China it took 50 years, in Russia 70. The Iranian regieme is 25. How long until it too is in the dustbin of history? Nor is Iran the only puritanical Islamic theocracy: The Sunni branch has a theocracy in Saudi Arabia, but even there we see people starting to protest the dreaded religious police.

Puritanical regiemes, whether it be Mayor Bloomberg’s cigarette/transfat police or the Mullahs fashion police, just won’t be popular with people in the long run.So in the battle for the Sunni heartland, it turns out that one of the reasons that local tribes are turning against Al qaeda and helping the infidel Americans is…cigarettes.

Michael Yon reports:

The AQI installed Sharia court had sanctioned the amputation of the two “smoking fingers” for those who violated anti-smoking laws….

On the evening of the 24th I spoke with a local Iraqi official, Colonel Faik, who said the Muftis would order the severance of the two fingers used to hold a cigarette for any Iraqis caught smoking. Other reports, from here in Diyala and also in Anbar, allege that smokers are murdered by AQI.

Most Iraqis smoke and this particular prohibition appeared to have earned the ire of many locals.

After an American unit cleared an apartment complex on the 23rd, LTC Smiley, the battalion commander, reported that residents didn’t ask for food and water, but cigarettes. In other parts of Baqubah, people have been celebrating the routing of AQI by lighting up and smoking cigarettes.

Democracy,Whiskey, Sexy was the liberation cry in 2003, and indeed, although the propaganda campaign against the coalition and Bush may be winning, in the long run the wish for Bollywood and parties, and the desire to have governments consider the good of all their people is the major enemy of this latest puritanical utopian movement.

The bad news is that history is full of murderous utopias, from the Emperor of Chin to Rome to Mao, and that alas they tend to kill millions of people before this happens.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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