Monday, 9 February 2009

Reject the rule of the dead

Via Harry’s Place, the words of Iyad Jamal Al-Din, Iraqi member of parliament, interviewed on Al-Jazeera, January 30th of this year:
Iyad Jamal Al-Din: The secular or liberal movement looks to the future, not to the past. They do not cry about the past. They don’t have a Wailing Wall. There are no dead people among the liberal or secular leaders. In the Islamic or religious parties – whatever you want to call them – you see the living hiding behind pictures of the dead, or martyrs. All their leaders are martyrs. There isn’t a single living leader in the Islamic movements who can say: I am your leader. He may be alive, but behind him there is a giant 5-meter-tall picture of a martyr.

Interviewer: They are trying to evoke…

Iyad Jamal Al-Din: They are evoking dead leaders.

Interviewer: This may be a good thing.

Iyad Jamal Al-Din: Some people may view this as a positive thing, but the people are a living people, who look to the future, not to the past. If you want to rely on the past – okay, no problem. But if you are alive, and led by a dead person – this means you must die yourself in order to become a leader. Living nations produce living leaders, not martyrs. Only nations living in the past produce martyrs. They take pride in their past more than they look to the future.

From The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, published in 1791:
Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow. The Parliament or the people of 1688, or of any other period, had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day, or to bind or to control them in any shape whatever, than the parliament or the people of the present day have to dispose of, bind or control those who are to live a hundred or a thousand years hence. Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority in directing who shall be its governors, or how its government shall be organised, or how administered.

Iyad Jamal Al-Din interview translated by MEMRI.

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