No one wants to see Egypt erupt into a bloody civil war — and it is difficult to watch the violence that transpired over the weekend in the largest Arab nation. However, it is becoming clear that the Muslim Brotherhood — and other Islamists — have no genuine interest in governing a healthy democracy that values liberty for all its citizens.
Time and again, they have made it clear that their intentions are to exploit the Democratic process to force-feed oppressive Sharia Law to a population that wants no part of it. The short-lived Morsi debacle proved this movement’s penchant for authoritarian and sectarian rule.
The majority of Egyptians simply want to be free and not be told how they must behave and believe by totalitarian religious zealots. An article in today’s New York Times highlights the danger to Egypt posed by the desperate and flailing Muslim Brotherhood. (Not that the ruling military historically have a good track record either)
A hallmark of fundamentalists is that they display acute paranoia and feel that they are under attack because of their beliefs. In reality, people are simply opposing their bullying efforts and attempts to shove their unwanted religious laws down the throats of the majority. In America, our Christian extremists whine and claim there is a “War on Christians” or a “War on Christmas.” In Egypt, their wing nuts claim there is a war on Islam — even though the vast majority of the population are Muslim.
“These people dare to mock our religion!” shouted Safwat Hegazy, a Brotherhood leader, as he stood under the bright stage lights on Saturday night and the flag-waving crowd roared its approval. “God will punish them.”
“You are here because of the evil that wanted to eliminate religion from our lives,” a mosque speaker railed on a recent night.
This childish and conspiratorial mindset makes it difficult to govern with fundamentalists. They see everything as a slight and rarely compromise, because they believe they are God’s representatives on earth. When things don’t go their way, they throw tantrums, become petty, and call on God to punish foes. When God doesn’t answer their prayers, they sometimes play God and take vengeance into their own hands.
To fight the military’s rule, Islamist groups are joining forces and putting aside differences, but their overall goal is incompatible with a modern Middle East. According to the Times:
Many Islamists from a variety of factions seem to believe that if the Brotherhood falls, they — and the cause of political Islam here and abroad — will fall with it.
The divisive and destructive cause of political Islam — or political Christianity — should fall. It does nothing but ruin societies, bring oppression, and social and economic backwardness. There are many who say that a political solution in Egypt should include the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups, however, I don’t see how that serves the purpose of democracy, freedom and long-term stability:
A younger man named Tareq Ahmad Hussein spoke up: “Many of the youth now say, ‘No more ballot boxes.’ We used to believe in the caliphate. The international community said we should go with ballot boxes, so we followed that path. But then they flip the ballot boxes over on us. So forget it. If ballot boxes don’t bring righteousness, we will all go back to demanding a caliphate.” He referred to a system where supreme Islamic religious leaders also held sway over secular life.
This anachronistic form of religious tyranny is what too many in these Egyptian Muslim movements truly want. They only see ballot boxes as a tactic to achieving their deadly dreams. If they can’t win the vote they are all-too ready to resort to violence to install a regime of “righteousness.” How can a democracy succeed when a significant number of people hold such undemocratic beliefs?
Of course, the more sophisticated Islamists know that if they outright express their unpopular desires, they will lose support. Thus, they appear to be taking great pains to sugarcoat their ultimate aims:
A third man said the crisis had been useful in some ways. “It has been a tough test, but it has had benefits — now we know who our true friends are,” he said. “The liberals, the Christian leaders, they stood with the old regime. It was painful to see some fellow Muslims going against us at first, but they have now seen their mistake and returned to us. The Islamic path is clear.”
The Brotherhood has made some effort to restrain that kind of talk. On a recent evening, an older man in traditional dress was angrily shouting to a reporter about a “war against Islam” led by liberals and the military, and the need for all Muslims to fight against it. Several Brotherhood members urged the man to change his tone, telling him to stick to the words “democracy” and “legitimacy,” and then tried to escort the reporter away.
What the Muslim Brotherhood needs to do is tell voters precisely what they stand for and what their vision is for Egypt. Telling the less savvy among them to tone it down for reporters is unacceptable and increases fears that this movement is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Again, no one wants to see Egypt descend into civil war. Some things, however, are worth fighting for. The Egyptian majority — and the military by extension — have the right to be free and not ruled by Islamic tyranny.
Hopefully, a free society can emerge without resorting to violence. But, this will require the Islamists to place patriotism ahead of a dangerous desire for religious dominion. Talk of establishing a caliphate or force-feeding the public harsh Islamic law will do nothing to stabilize Egypt and only lead to more bloodshed.
The Islamists should stop protesting, go home, and give up on their fatalistic religious fantasies that will only drag Egypt into a new Dark Age. (And, for that matter, our politicized Christian fundies at home — such as Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli — should quit their ugly, divisive crusade that provides no happy ending, nor viable future, for the Untied States of America.)