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Tash Ma Tash and the Liberals - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I do not know of anyone who has managed to bring the intellectual debate to the table as well as the two stars of ‘Tash Ma Tash’ television series.

Nasser al Qasabi and Abdullah al Sadhan, the two comical actors have, for many years, extended the realm of criticism based on the idea of satire.

Despite the complexity and exclusivity of ideas, the program has succeeded in winning over the majority of viewers and entertaining those who have spent the day fasting. Perhaps the targeting of liberals with sharp criticism emphasizes that “equal criticism does justice to the subjects” and this itself is a liberal principle. What is said about the liberals should not upset them because most of it is true as the ideology is theoretical. This is the nature of liberalism the world over that fights its battles with words rather than weapons and is based on persuasion and not repression. Liberalism has no militia and the secret behind its strength all over the world is that it is a vocal intellectual phenomenon. In this way, it dominated Europe, America and most modern states. Generally, the ideology is always more dangerous than any heavily armed organization, even if it comes from lazy and weak people who conclude their theoretical arguments by eating and going to sleep straight after.

Economically, one of the most significant pillars of liberalism is the free market. Look how the resounding success of telephone companies provided evidence of the failure of central and social government systems, which usually dominate the production sector. It is true that change is more immense in the economic sector than the political one. However, many changes have occurred in the political sector over the past decade. All recent changes are almost liberal, even though they are generated through governmental statements or fundamentalist movements, including elections, freedom of expression, associations and civil systems. The ideology is stronger than the weapon and the evidence is that the Al Qaeda movement has produced countless statements and videotapes and shed rivers of blood; however, it has failed to take even one step forward.

What many people may not realize is that those who call for liberal ideas are often those who oppose liberalism. The religious fundamentalist trend is what called for parties, associations, civil rights, and freedom of expression within the media. It has done all this for two reasons: the first is opportunistic in that it wants to gain power and the second is out of conviction because it realized that liberal ideology is not practically in contrast to fundamentalism as it is calling for the freedom of choice. But why has it opposed the principle of liberal choice even though it is confident that the majority’s choice will be religious? Therefore, Islamist parties have embraced liberal proposals. Here we must differentiate between liberal ideology and liberals. Liberalism is suitable for Islamists, communists and governments as well. Every party could take from it whatever suits it. Liberalism was adopted by the Left in Eastern Europe and is supported with extreme enthusiasm by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world. As for liberals, their duty is theoretical not partisan.

When various groups accept the simple liberal proposals of freedom of choice and freedom of expression, it is not important that original liberals lose out as in the case of losing the elections in Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere, because liberalism is an ideology rather than a party or a king. In my opinion, Arab liberalism is a victim of misunderstanding in the way that it sees liberals themselves. It is like a telephone service; the system allows for the multiplicity of telephone service providers and the individual has freedom of choice. It is not important whether one chooses a liberal or fundamentalist telephone service; this would contradict the entire principle. Now it’s time to eat.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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