As is so often the case, the mainstream media tends to get things wrong – or at least distorted. Either they over-simplify things or they push a particular agenda, robbing us of the reality of a given complex situation. That has certainly been the case with the uprising in Egypt.
All we gather from the MSM is that a popular uprising is occurring there, with a strong move for freedom and democracy. In actuality, things are rather more complex, and not necessarily so benign. What we are not hearing from much of the media is the truth that things may in fact go from bad to worse there.
Make no mistake – Mubarak is no saint, and Egypt is no democratic show case in the Middle East. But he has been pro-Western and resistant to jihadists in his own midst. And the initial demonstrations have largely been from reform–minded young people.
But Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, are all too happy to use this popular uprising for their own purposes: that is, to establish a hardline Islamic state. This will result in things being much worse in Egypt than the current situation.
As the Haaretz news agency notes, “The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group, is in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday. Although the Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, some movement members have presented candidacy for parliament as independents.”
What transpires in Egypt in the days ahead remains to be seen. But as Tom Switzer notes, “if democratic elections were held, they would more than likely represent a landslide for the Muslim Brotherhood. In other words, far from ushering in a new era of democratic prosperity and a stable peace, an Egyptian revolution could lead to a period of virulent anti-Americanism and Islamic extremism.
“That does not mean the US should continue to give unqualified and unconditional support to Mubarak. It’s just that elections are no panacea in a nation or region with little liberal democratic traditions; that president Obama’s cautious wait-and-see approach is more than justified; and that, if anything, Washington should foster a Mubarak-led transfer of power rather than one led by the street protesters.
“As the Iraq experience has shown over the past eight years, removing a dictator is the easy bit; ensuring people power leads to peace and freedom is far more complicated and fraught with danger.
“To work, democracy requires, among other things, a degree of prosperity and order. And it requires that the losers respect the rights of the winners to rule and the electoral majority respect the rights of the minority to the untrammelled benefits of civil society – including freedom of speech, organisation, religion, and an impartial judiciary. That is, a democracy has to embrace the idea of a loyal opposition.
“Look at Egypt and it appears that none of these conditions can easily be met anytime soon. The protestors might be young, but they are not wholly secular and many are unemployed. Mohammed ElBaradei is touted as an alternative leader, but serious doubts dog his ability to represent any constituency inside Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only organised political group, but it is also an extremist outfit that supports Hamas and Tehran, opposes Israel, the US and the 1979 Camp David peace accords, and threatens regional and global counter-terrorism efforts.”
Or as former Muslim Nonie Darwish puts it: “I am not optimistic that the current uprising in the Middle East will bring democracy. Many Egyptians believe they can combine democracy with Sharia Islamic law; that is the first unrealistic expectation. 60% of Egyptians want to live under Sharia law but do not understand the ramifications. Many chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Islam is the solution.’ But the truth is, Islam is the problem.
“Perhaps the most dangerous law in Sharia that stands in the way of democracy is the one that states that ‘A Muslim head of State can hold office through seizure of power, meaning through force.’ That law is the reason every Muslim leader must turn into a despotic tyrant to survive, literally. When a Muslim leader is removed from office by force, we often see the Islamic media and masses accept it and even cheer for the new leader who has just ousted or killed the former leader, who is often called a traitor to the Islamic cause.
“That was what happened to the Egyptian King Farouk in 1952. Sadat’s assassination followed many fatwas of death against him for having violated his Islamic obligations to make Israel an eternal enemy. He became an apostate in the eyes of the hard-liners and had to be killed or removed from office. This probably sounds incredible to the Western mind, but this is the reality of what Sharia has done and is still doing to the political chaos in the Muslim world.
“The choice in Egypt is not between good and bad, it is between bad and worse. The Muslim world lacks the understanding of what is hindering them and lacks the moral and legal foundation for forming a stable democratic political system. They will continue to rise and fall, stumble from one revolution to another and living from one tyrant to another looking for the ideal Islamic state that never was. The 1400 year old Islamic history of tyranny will continue unless Sharia Law is rejected as the basis of the legal and political systems in Muslim countries.”
As Robert Spencer summarises: “Egypt now stands on the brink of installing in power a group that wants to see it become an Islamic state. Many Western analysts have welcomed the demonstrations currently roiling Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East as an outpouring of democratic sentiment against repressive authoritarian rulers – and that they are. But it is no coincidence that Islamic supremacist pro-Sharia leaders and groups are also applauding these demonstrations.
“They know that if the people truly rule in the Middle East, so will Islamic law (Sharia). For belying the widespread assumption in the West that Islamic supremacists, whether violent or stealthy, represent only a tiny minority of extremists among Muslims, in reality the imperative for Islamic rule (which is also the ultimate goal of jihad terror attacks) enjoys broad popular support among Muslims….
“All this yet again demonstrates the crying need for realistic analysis in Washington of the jihad threat, rather than the fantasy-based analysis that prevails there now. If Washington had been working to limit the influence of pro-Sharia forces in Egypt and elsewhere, events unfolding now might be very different. But it is rapidly becoming too late.”
Admittedly it is early days yet, so I am certainly not making any predictions here, nor saying anything with iron-clad certainty. I am simply urging a bit of caution in all this. Making the world more democratic and free is always a good thing. But as we have seen so often in the past, many upheavals and revolutions which promised freedom and democracy ended up with situations which were not at all free or democratic, but often far worse.