Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Advice from Ibn Khatib on How to Deal with Mobs

'The common people may be simple, but they are quite powerful, especially when they act collectively. If the king is faced by them as a rioting crowd, he should be diplomatic with them and stick firmly to his position until they disperse.' And then? 'The king should strike hard at them and leave no room for mercy towards them.'

This was Lisan al-Din Ibn Khatib's (1313 - 75) advice to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid.

Hosni Mubarak would do well to listen to these words; he has time on his side; let him be moderate now until the crowd is exhausted, and afterwards he can pick off the ringleaders by night.

Incidentally, this is exactly what the regime in Tehran did: they exhausted the young boys, and then brutalised them. It seems to have worked.

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