by William Teach | July 5, 2013 8:34 am
Of course, this is one of the great things about American democracy (don’t start with the “it’s a Republic” thing), based on the 1st Amendment: allowing other viewpoints. Which is interesting for the NY Times, because, at best, they rarely allow more than super-squishy Republicans to publish op-eds. Anyhow, here’s the Brookings Institute’s Shadi Hamid, director of their Doha center, based in Qatar, which is a rather Islamist country
Demoting Democracy in Egypt
WHEN Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president last year, it was an especially sweet victory for the Muslim Brotherhood, the region’s oldest and most influential Islamist movement. After a long history of repression, the Brotherhood had finally tasted triumph. But their short-lived rule ended Wednesday when Egypt’s army deposed Mr. Morsi.
They were repressed exactly because of their hardcore Islamist beliefs, wanting to institute Sharia law as the basis for government. How’s that type of government work out? See “Afghanistan” prior to the US invasion in 2001. Also see “Taliban”, which were surely more hardcore than the Muslim Brotherhood. See Iran, and the way the Clerics are involved in all politics.
The Brotherhood’s fall will have profound implications for the future of political Islam, reverberating across the region in potentially dangerous ways. One of the most important political developments of recent years was the decision of Islamist parties to make peace with democracy and commit to playing by the rules of the political game. Leaders counseled patience to their followers. Their time would come, they were told.
They made the decision to “play by the rules” in order to infiltrate governments and institute their hardcore brand of Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood has long been the political arm, the arm that isn’t heavily violent like al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the other Islamic terrorist groups. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood look to quietly and (mostly) peacefully transition governments over to Islamist ones. We see this same type of infiltration throughout the world, including Europe and America. In Egypt, though, they had a prime opportunity to take over the government and institute their agenda with ouster of Mubarak and the elections. They made the mistake of moving too fast in their agenda.
Now supporters of the Brotherhood will ask, with good reason, whether democracy still has anything to offer them. Mr. Morsi’s removal will breathe new life into the ideological claims of radicals. Al Qaeda and its followers have long argued that change can’t come through the democracy of “unbelievers”; violence is the only path. As the Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri once said, “What is truly regrettable is the rallying of thousands of duped Muslim youth in voter queues before ballot boxes instead of lining them up to fight in the cause of Allah.”
The Brotherhood and its supporters were never about democracy, except as a tool to institute their hardcore ways. At the end, though, the Brotherhood is behind lots and lots of violence, repression of women, harsh criminal penalities (stonings and such). Yet Hamid is trying to tell us that the MB getting thrown out of office due to protesters, with the help of the military, who did not want the hardcore political setup, is a Bad Thing.
To limit the fallout from this week’s events, Egypt’s new government must ensure that the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party are reincorporated into the political process and free to contest – and win – parliamentary and presidential elections. Otherwise, Islamist parties’ faith in democracy could be irrevocably damaged.
There’s not much information out there regarding Hamid and what his leanings are, but I just have to wonder what his motivation is. The People of Egypt wanted Morsi and his MB hardcores gone: why would they be let back in? Would we accept the Nazi party being integrated into government? How about the KKK (well, unless you’re the Democrat party, and hold a KKK member as a paragon of virtue)? Would Hamid support a political party based on instituting the Christian or Jewish religions throughout government? In the comments, NY Times reader Kurt writes
Democracy is more than holding periodic elections. It also entails acceptance of limits on governmental and societal power to compel individual conscience. And, since such suppression is the very reason for being for Islamist parties such as Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mr Hamid’s laments ring hollow.
Good point. One that many in our own government here should learn.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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