An extraordinary wave of change continues to sweep across the Middle East and North Africa. It is a heady time for many who wish to cast off their chains of repression and deprivation and usher in a new age of freedom and democracy. But unless such developments ultimately occur in the context of virtue-driven changes, it is all too easy to reproduce old patterns and replace the current strongman or dictator with another or an oligarchy of exploiters.


The course of human history is littered with examples where the flames of freedom were extinguished by an avalanche of renewed repression — from the French Revolution morphing into the Reign of Terror to the Iranian Revolution exchanging the Shah Pahlavi’s autocratic dynasty with a sect of repressive, fundamentalist Islamist fanatics.