Latest update: May 14th, 2012
That 32 percent are not “moderate Muslims” or “secularist Muslims” but they are non-Islamist Muslims. A few years ago there were a lot more of them but their ranks are steadily eroded by the advance of revolutionary Islamism. Since there is no strong alternative theological or political leadership in that direction, this is unlikely to be strong enough to block an Islamist transformation. And who is left as the genuine, secular or for a minimally religious state? The Christians, that’s about all.
Pew makes much of supposed moderation by pointing out that two-thirds of those who endorsed the Saudi model also said democracy is their preferred form of government; 64 percent want a free press; 61 percent want free speech.
But what does this really mean in the context of Egypt? Of course they support “democracy” since the alternative they have in mind is the hated Mubarak dictatorship. And what does democracy mean to them? A landslide victory for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists! Thus, when they think about, “This is what democracy looks like,” that means eternal Islamist victories.
As for a free press and free speech, that means diversity, though we should remember that newspaper reading in Egypt is tiny compared to the West. Yet what would happen if someone used this free press or free speech for something deemed critical of Islam?
Already we are seeing people brought to court for saying things the Islamists don’t like. Yet the cases are heard by Mubarak-appointed judges. What will happen when the Islamists appoint the judges?
The hypnotized observers in the West keep chanting that the Brotherhood has renounced violence and would never ever use force and intimidation. If you want to know what Egypt has in store consider the following:
In 1992–under Mubarak’s regime–Farag Fouda, a fearless secularist, debated a Muslim Brotherhood leader at the Cairo Book Fair. Five months later, an Islamist assassinated Fouda. At the trial, a Muslim Brotherhood leader testified as a defense witness that the killing was the proper punishment for an apostate, at which point the defendant shouted, “Now I will die with a clear conscience.”
That was a Mubarak court and the killer was found guilty. What will happen in an Islamist regime’s court?
Many Egyptians will die, as will U.S. interests. Will the Western apologists and enablers have a clear conscience?
PS: The Washington Post covered very briefly the debate between two presidential candidates, the radical nationalist secularist, Amr Moussa, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. The Post article informs us that Aboul Fotouh is “considered a moderate Islamist.” By whom? In the debate, Aboul Fotouh said he would implement Sharia with supposed moderation. His formula, which the report missed, is that Sharia might not be imposed 100 percent. So much for moderation.
The Post also reported that he called Israel the enemy of Egypt. But the article missed Aboul Fotouh’s signal about Israel, which he called “ built on occupation.” To any Egyptian that says: Israel is an illegitimate entity that has no right to exist. Amr Moussa personally has shown he hates Israel but also demonstrates why he would make a president more likely to keep Egypt out of war and disaster:
“We have lots of disagreements. Most of our people consider it an enemy, but the responsibility of the president is to deal with such things responsibly and not run after hot-headed slogans.”
In broader terms, this is the choice Egypt will have to make–radical ideology and hot-headed slogans or pragmatism. The electorate’s views, size of Egypt’s problems, lack of resources that would allow constructive policies that would improve people’s lives materially, parliament, drafters of the new Constitution, violent Salafists (who support Aboul Fotouh), and probably the president will all be in the former camp.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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