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Amir Taheri Still Flush with Spring Fever

November 7th, 2013 - 7:42 am

As I’ve pointed out here many times, the Brotherhood is the most significant Islamic supremacist faction in Egypt (and the broader Middle East), but it is far from the only one. The Brothers also have a richly deserved reputation for treachery and self-dealing of the power-grabbing variety. As a result, they are despised by many Egyptians, including other Islamic supremacists, for reasons having nothing to do with their sharia-centric ideology.

Of more immediate consequence, the Brothers are also out of favor with their erstwhile benefactors, the Saudis. The House of Saud fears a Brotherhood-orchestrated insurrection — akin to what the Brothers have tried to pull off in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan and other Sunni Muslim countries. Just like the Salafist Nour party they back in Egypt, the Saudis are rabidly pro-sharia. Yet, enthusiastically supported, and almost certainly provided the military’s financial incentive for, the coup against Morsi. It is a major analytical error to confound Egypt’s rejection of the Brotherhood with Egypt’s rejection of Islamic supremacism.

It is an error Amir Taheri consistently makes, as I pointed out when he offered a tortured interpretation of Morsi’s victory in the presidential election as, somehow, a hopeful sign that Egyptians were souring on sharia totalitarianism. It is ironic that Taheri, a proponent of the American policy fantasy that popular elections signal Islamic culture’s transition to real democracy, so often neglects to mention that Morsi and the overwhelmingly Brotherhood/Salafist parliament were freely elected by Egyptians. Morsi and other Islamists did not hide the ball. They openly, unabashedly campaigned on a promise to champion the implementation of sharia — the Brotherhood’s raison d’etre. Islamic supremacism was not imposed on Egyptians; it was chosen by Egyptians.

Moreover, the sharia constitution that Taheri refers to as the “Morsi constitution” was merely proposed by Morsi — after being drafted by a committee designed by the elected Islamic-supremacist parliament. It was not the “Morsi constitution”; it was the Egyptian constitution. It became the law of the land only after Egyptians approved it by a two-to-one landslide in a nationwide election.

It is certainly true that real democracy advocates in Egypt do not like the sharia provisions — like Amir and I, they see these provisions as antithetical to authentic democracy. But we have to face stubborn facts: proponents of Western-style democracy are vastly outnumbered in Egypt. That is why they get trounced in elections. The sharia provisions are in Egypt’s constitution because that is what a lopsided majority of Egyptians wants.

Indeed, it was not Morsi who put sharia in Egypt’s constitution. As I recount in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, the provision that “Islam is the Religion of the State” has been in the constitution since the founding of the modern Egyptian state in the middle of the 20th century. The constitution’s declaration that “the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence” — effectively imposing sharia and fiqh, the jurisprudence of sharia — was added in the seventies. It was a key part of President Anwar Sadat’s program to reintegrate Islamic supremacists, who had been brutally repressed after attempting to kill Sadat’s predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser. (Islamic supremacists being Islamic supremacists, they showed their gratitude by eventually murdering Sadat).

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I think you're confusing liking an Islamic basis for law with liking being ruled by Islam.

We pride ourselves on our systems based on Judeo-Christian values; we do not want to be ruled by such a political party.

So, why wouldn't Egyptians like an Islamic basis for law? They're Muslims.

But NOT supporting a "Western-style democracy" is not the same thing as then supporting Iran-On-the-Nile. In fact neither is wished for by Egyptians, who, generally speaking, are conservative but not religiously so, except as those values intersect and derive from Islam itself, which would not be true in a Western-style Democracy. They don't want something that will lead to gay marriage and allowing illegal aliens and crazy ultra-feminists to swarm them like we have.

You're also leaving out the fact Morsi won a very narrow election - about 51.5% of the vote. Add to that the fact a vote for Morsi was often just as much a vote NOT for the other guy, who was seen as a holdover from Mubarak.

I think the vote for the MB - Presidential and Parliamentary - was as much a vote for men the electorate saw as righteous and trustworthy as religious. The Salafis who won were clearly a vote for religion, not so the MB.

When Morsi gave off signs of religion, he almost instantly lost much of the secular vote that put him in power, and that of the Al-Ahzar Sunni orthodox vote, which was at odds with the MB's peculiar views on Islam. Those views also of course shaved off the Salafis who were Morsi's nominal allies for a time.

After 6 months Morsi only had the support of perhaps 20 to 25% of the country. I do not think "it is a major analytical error to confound Egypt’s rejection of the Brotherhood with Egypt’s rejection of Islamic supremacism." The Egyptian people have no interest in being ruled by religion and Morsi was thrown down by the non-Salafi and secular sectors of Egypt. Sunnis do not want Al-Ahzar in the Presidential palace.

You're also leaving out the fact that the creation AND the referendum on the altered Sharia Constitution was boycotted by many in Egypt as a sham. That overwhelming vote was also a small overall percentage of those who might have voted. This in fact was never a test of strength between democratic reformers and Islamic Supremacists but between orthodox Islamic moderates and Islamic supremacists.

Egypt did NOT choose this supremacism. In fact when Morsi installed a governor in Luxor associated with the massacre of 58 tourists there, Egyptians were appalled; a line had been crossed, and it clearly showed Morsi on one side and Egypt on the other. Luxor was a symbolic rejection of the West by Morsi and Egypt knew that would be economic and social suicide. In that sense it's true however that did not then mean wanting the West among Egypt's institutions.

The problem here seems to be one of semantics. If "real" democracy is ours, Egypt doesn't want that. Egypt does want democracy, but their own version of one that preserves their Islamic values but without infringing on their individual freedoms, such as an ultra conservative Islamic state would do. They had enough of that under Mubarak. That plus economics is what threw down Mubarak and the same things threw down Morsi.

As for Salafis, simply remember Saudis and Salafis are both Wahabbis. "Nuff said on that. But although Islam draws it spiritual strength from S. Arabia, so does S. Arabia derive its orthodox law from Al-Ahzar. The MB was at odds with Al-Ahzar, the pedantic wording change to the Constitution notwithstanding, and so eventually with S. Arabia and the Salafis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, I guess it's the author's contention that the MB publically stated that their intent was to create an islamic state during the election? If so, then it can be argued the people chose it. But, if the politicians lie (thank goodness that could NEVER happen here) then the people have every right to take back power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find it strange the current U.S. Administration supports the Muslim brotherhood across the Caliphate, but does nothing to support the Coptic Christians. Perhaps, BLT Marxism does not enjoy Christianity.

American tax payer monies should not be sent to any county supporting the destruction of Israel like Egypt. When I see the news on Egypt, I sometimes see America Abrams tanks in the back ground. Is operation Pyramid a go?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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