In an article published in NYT (“A Moment of Moral Clarity”, May 17, 2011) the former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky calls for more understanding in the West of the calls for liberty in the Mideast. He asks:

How many protesters must a regime murder before it is no longer fit for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council? How many thousands of dissidents must it jail? How many acts of internation terrorism must it instigate?

Sharansky also wonders what the blood-soaked regimes in the area are doing on a human-rights body in the first place.

The author firmly declares that what is happening now in the Arab-Muslim Middle East is very important. The peoples have decided that they no longer want to live in fear. They are risking their lives and limbs to get rid of autocracy.

It is therefore time for the free world, led by the United States, to choose between the two alternatives of engagement and disengagement. When President Ronald Reagan pronounced the Soviet Union to be an “evil empire” he brought courage to the disidents and hope to hundreds of millions desperate to escape Soviet subjugation. There may, so Sharansky, be no “evil empire” in the Mideast of today, but there are many evil regimes:

To those millions crossing, or waiting to cross, the line into freedom, we can send a simple but thrilling message of support and solidarity: We are with you…At this moment of moral clarity, when the free world is being challenged to cease turning a blind eye to tyranny, surely it is not too much to affirm full-throatedly the aspirations of the Arab and Muslim peoples to live in freedom, to choose their own governments, to be protected in their right to dissent, and no longer be ruled by guns.


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