Even as US politicians praise the Muslim Brotherhood while visiting Cairo earlier this week, the various branches of the Muslim Brotherhood around the Middle East, in particular Egypt and Tunisia, are beginning to let their “moderate” mask slip. Promises that they would not impose Islamic law are now out the window as they continue to seize the reins of power.
After months of reassuring secularist critics, Islamist politicians in Tunisia and Egypt have begun to lay down markers about how Muslim their states should be — and first signs show they want more religion than previously admitted.
Islamist parties swept the first free elections in both countries in recent months after campaigns that stressed their readiness to work with the secularists they struggled with in the Arab Spring revolts against decades-long dictatorships.
With political deadlines looming, the Tunisian coalition led by the reformist Islamist Ennahda party and the head of Egypt’s influential Muslim Brotherhood both made statements this week revealing a stronger emphasis on Islam in government.
Popular List, an Ennahda coalition member tasked with writing Tunisia’s new constitution, announced on Monday its draft called Islam “the principle source of legislation” — a phrase denoting laws based on the sharia moral and legal code.
On Tuesday, Egyptian Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said his group wanted a president with “an Islamic background.” That term is vague, but not as vague as the conciliatory “consensus candidate” talk heard from most parties until now.
Secularists in both countries warned voters against trusting the Islamists and these subtle changes could have come straight from a secularist playbook on how Islamists would gradually insert more religion into the political and legal systems.
This is of course only a surprise to the Western media, politicians and the Brotherhood’s supporters inside the Beltway. For anyone to believe that an organization whose motto is “Allah is our objective. The prophet is our leader. The koran is our constitution. Jihad is our way. Dying in the path of Allah is our highest hope.” would have secular intentions would be truly gullible. Or alternatively, the Obama Administration’s Director of National Intelligence.