The referendum in Sudan is over and the vote is independence:
International observers gave south Sudan’s independence referendum their seal of approval on Monday and said a vote for secession was now “virtually certain” in their first official judgment on the poll.
Early results from last week’s plebiscite suggest people from Sudan’s oil-producing south overwhelming voted to split away from the north after decades of civil war.
Might be a tad premature to say independence but this is now the best shot for the Christians in Southern Sudan to enjoy a modicum of peace.
If they manage to pull it off I would not be surprised to see Christians who are being slain elsewhere on the continent to head in that direction.
Unlike in war-torn Afghanistan or fanatical Saudi Arabia, Tunisian democracy is a real possibility. It’s a bit unlikely as it’s only one possible option of many, but it could happen. Mebazaa himself is now promising, perhaps even sincerely, “a better political life which will include democracy, plurality and active participation for all the children of Tunis.”
I’ve spent time in more than a dozen Muslim countries, eight of them Arab, and Tunisia is — or at least was before this month when things fell apart — one of the most advanced and stable. The majority of its citizens belong to a well-educated middle class, the infrastructure seems no worse than Europe’s, and a high percentage of women in the cities have discarded the veil and the headscarf and dress like Europeans. The latter may sound like a small thing, but in a Muslim country, it visually indicates how much women’s rights have advanced. The overwhelming majority live near the coast in cosmopolitan cities that have traded and been in cultural contact with Europeans for millennia. It’s not a Western country, but it fully belongs to the Mediterranean region and is oriented more toward the West than most Arab countries.
Beirut was once a cosmopolitanism place too. This will be a real test, can an Islamic country when removing a dictator create a state that has freedoms that other Islamic states avoid, or will it become a place where Sharia is either officially or unofficially enforced?
These two stories are going to tell us an awful lot. Let’s make sure we pay attention.