And as for women? In his own words: “Blows are not effective with every woman, but they are helpful with some.” I wonder if al-Qaradawi agrees with the recent verdict by the upstate New York jury which found the American Muslim man who beheaded his wife guilty, even though he pleaded that he was innocent, arguing that she had violated the dictates of Sharia law. As the Der Spiegel writer notes, the Muslim scholar explained to him that “a woman does not have to ask her husband’s permission to blow herself up in an Israeli café.” I guess that anti-Western radical feminists will be delighted to hear this.
It also appears, readers learn, that a Danish researcher believes that he was the man responsible for instigating the protests against the cartoonist in Denmark who drew the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. These protests led to the Danish embassy being set on fire in Beirut, as well as threats against the cartoonist, who recently was almost killed in his home.
For those like Prof. Carrie Wickham, who believes, as I wrote earlier, that the Brotherhood was changed by events and now favors “public freedoms, democracy and respect for human rights,” the words of al-Qaradawi are rather chastening. As the Der Spiegel article explains, critics such as Christoph Spielberger cite the Muslim tradition of Taqiyya, or “misrepresentation to achieve a higher goal.” What this means is that those who trust the words of MB spokesmen to Westerners should think carefully before believing what they are told.
The article quotes pledges of adherence to democracy and a pledge not to demand any ideological line on Egypt by an MB spokesman, Mohammed Mursi. This sounds good, but as Smoltczyk writes, quoting Tariq Ramadan — the self-proclaimed moderate who is beloved by many in the West — its leaders know that “now is not the time to expose itself.”
As I argued on these pages, the group’s leaders are savvy, and hope that time is on their side That is why the United States should urge that elections be held as late as possible, and that in the interim, our country and others in the West should give the kind of aid the Reagan administration gave to Solidarity in Poland in the 1980s. Democratic activists both religious and secular should be given access to computers, printers, cell phones and whatever they need to spread their word. They should be given funds that enable them to organize their own parties and to establish headquarters throughout Egypt. Such aid can be given through the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as through groups like the Republican and Democratic Party institutes that work to help the creation of democratic groups where they do not at present exist.
Only when alternatives to the Muslim Brotherhood are built up and gain participants will a real level playing field exist. In such conditions, the Muslim Brotherhood, a minority group in Egypt, has a chance of remaining a minority in a new democratic Egypt.