Jovaria Naseem |
Monarchy is one of the oldest forms of government. The word “Monarch” comes from the Greek word monárkhēs which means absolute ruler or one single ruler. Currently, there are 27 monarchies in the world including United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Monaco, Norway, Spain, and Swaziland.
The never ending frenzy over royal fairytale wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, according to Akamai, caused global web traffic of rising 39% above normal. YouTube alone had 72 million live streams. Another source reported, over 1.5 billion people across the globe watched the royal wedding. The event in London itself was covered by as many as 8000 or more journalists. From Kenya to China, the enthusiasm surrounding the event was matchless.
“An estimated 2.5 billion people watched the funeral procession of Princess Diana of Wales. Over a million people lined the route of the funeral cortege to the abbey and along her final journey to the Spencer family home in Northamptonshire.”
– BBC, 6 September 2005.
On the other hand, there has been a fairly consistent growing demand for democracy to topple monarchy in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia. Few of the most intense anti-monarchy voices are from the quarters of US, European Media, Europe, Pakistan, Iran etc.
In our strange behavioral patterns towards different monarchies lies the paradox. While British Monarchy draws our love and revere; the Middle Eastern Monarchies are the ones which receive our frowns. Sometimes the reasons of frowning are bizarre. The sentiments range from anti-Islamic to medieval and primitive ones.
Tony Blair, the ex-British Prime Minister, is accused of invading Iraq and causing present day Middle Eastern turmoil. However, he alone is not to be blamed.
Many Muslims in Pakistan, Iran, and the West believe Monarchy is anti-Islamic. They support democracy. Here lies the dichotomy. The very fabric of democracy is Greek and by that it means, it is a very Western phenomenon that transcended into East. Monarchy, on the other side, is not entirely a Western idea. Many of the Prophets in Islamic history have been Kings from Prophet Dawood (A.S) and Prophet Suleman (A.S) to Prophet Yousuf (A.S). The concept of Monarchy is not alien to Islam. What is alien to Islam is hypocrisy and the duality of approach or in behavior on a subject.
One can argue that British Monarchy has mastered the art of generating public goodwill vis-à-vis their press and PR, something the Middle Eastern Monarchies are yet to discover the irresistible charm of media.
As an illustration, the war on Iraq is a perfect example. Tony Blair, the ex-British Prime Minister, is accused of invading Iraq and causing present day Middle Eastern turmoil. However, he alone is not to be blamed. The Queen stood by his decision. She had signed for the war. Never has the British media or global press or public worldwide questioned British Monarchy over Iraq.
Iraq War isn’t the first instance or the last, British Monarchy has been guilty of War Crimes and crimes against humanity. Notable ones, but not limited to, are Kenyan Camps, Jallian Wala Bagh, Irish Famine, Iraqi Revolution (1920), The Cyprus Internment (1955-59), Chinese Resettlement (the 1950s), and the Boer Concentration Camps.
What happens if Saudi Arabia & other Middle Eastern Monarchies decided to follow British suit and chose to become a substantive democracy with constitutional monarchies that had the power to ratify the wars, would it be acceptable to public.
This is where the role of media is effective in shaping minds and changing opinions. Had anyone in media pointed a finger at British Monarchy and held them accountable for their decision to support the illegal invasion of Iraq or their involvement in several other crimes against humanity, the results would have been different. Had the right questions been asked, the situation should’ve been different. However, the press played along, protecting its own.
Constitutional vs absolute monarchy
The vast majority in favor of British Monarchy comes up with the argument that British is merely a constitutional monarchy, whereas, Middle Eastern Monarchies, especially Saudi Arabia, is absolute Monarchy. Hence, the acceptability is not possible. The point is, even with it being constitutional Monarchy, the Queen is the head of 32 countries. She is reported to and holds the power to warn and advice. She can dismiss Australian government. Her consent is necessary to turn any bill into law.
Maybe Saudis and the Middle Eastern monarchies need Princess Diana for the masses to fall in love with and, in a domino effect, to accept their monarchies and in the process, end up forgiving the sins of the past.
What happens if Saudi Arabia & other Middle Eastern Monarchies decided to follow British suit and chose to become a substantive democracy with constitutional monarchies that had the power to ratify the wars, would it be acceptable to public & especially to the Western Media? And if Middle Eastern Royalties’ fairytale weddings televised, will they be just as revered & fantasized as the British Royal Wedding was? Or would it suddenly turn into an un-Islamic, opulent affair?
There is another aspect at work here. Many suffer from “Gora Sahib” syndrome. Anything British, European, American is Kosher; anything Middle Eastern looks pre-historic or is medieval. This insufferable syndrome comes from hundreds of years of colonialization.
Maybe Saudis and the Middle Eastern monarchies need Princess Diana for the masses to fall in love with and, in a domino effect, to accept their monarchies and in the process, end up forgiving the sins of the past. But then, who knows it might suddenly become un-Islamic for the Princess to go out in the public and mingle with them. Instead of evoking admiration, it may end up drawing the wrath of many.
Oh, this never-ending paradox. Damned if they do it. Damned if they don’t!
Jovaria Naseem is a blogger and freelance writer. She writes at Insaf blogs. She has written movie reviews for various websites, articles on culture, and sports, primarily cricket-based articles in the past. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.