On the Crisis in Egypt

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.


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26 Replies to “On the Crisis in Egypt”

  1. I am not known for my insight, but I smelled a rat from the beginning. It was easy really, first King Farouk, then President Sadat’s assassination. 1+1=2. Out you go President Mubarak. Look out what comes next.
    Greg Brien

  2. Thanks guys

    We are told in Psalm 122 to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That implies that we pray for those nations around it as well. Right now Egypt is the only nation in the Middle East to have a peace treaty with Israel except for Jordon. Many Islamists want to see that treaty ended, and renew hostilities with Israel. We need to pray much during this crucial period.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Here is an interesting point of view from an Israeli blogger. In this post he states:

    “If you listen to the Mainline News Media you would think this is a good thing and that it’s all about fighting for Democracy. However the facts on the ground are quite different. Egyptians are protesting for survival. They can no longer afford the price of food and there are no jobs. Put that together with the Islamic propaganda they have listened to all their lives, and you have an explosion in the making. If you were able to take a survey in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan or any Arab country you’d find that the average man on the street believes that somehow Israel is the reason for their suffering, and that Israel must be destroyed.”

    With global food prices going up at a fast rate, many countries in the region will soon be in a similar position to Egypt. The issue here is, where will the blame lie or more to the point, who will blame who. Its not to hard to work out that the Islamists (extremists) will not only lay the blame of the crisis on he Jews but also on the local Christians as well.

    Only time will time will tell how this will pan out. It would be interesting to know what the Copts are thinking about this, we certainly need to pray for them as well.


    Jeffrey Carl

  4. It’s wise to be cautious about the apparent situation in Egypt. I say “apparent” because the Western media isn’t a reliable source of information about what’s really going on. Reporting of events is very shallow and there’s an uncritical media enthusiasm for democratic change – on the hypothesis that the “revolutionary” multitude knows what it wants. And what it ought to want of course is Western style liberal democracy (which we are anxious to export).

    Democratic institutions have not evolved in any nation without a Judeo-Christian culture. The vital Christian distinction between the secular and the sacred – the tribute which is Caesar’s being distinguished from the religious devotion which belongs to God – is not recognized in Muslim societies.

    When the tumults peter out or are suppressed, there are no grounds for supposing that Egypt will prove an exception to the regular pattern of one dictatorship succeeding another in the Muslim world. A facade of democratic accountability could be set up – behind which a military clique will hold the power.

    Alex Anderson

  5. Thanks Bill and others for showing the complexities of the Egyptian situation.
    Stan Fishley

  6. Concerning thoughts via Erik Stakelbeck latest blog if The Muslim Brotherhood takes controll of Egypt.

    “The first thing to go under such a regime, undoubtedly, would be Egypt’s 32-year peace treaty with its neighbor, Israel. A Brotherhood-run Egyptian state would likely move into the Iran/Syria/Hamas/Hezbollah orbit in the hopes of finishing off Israel once and for all.”

    “Any cordial relations with the U.S. would also likely fall by the wayside, although the Brotherhood would have no qualms about using the billions of dollars worth of military hardware that America has supplied to Egypt over the years.”


    Carl Strehlow

  7. A good article, Bill. “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.”

    Indeed, they want it to be better but they don’t know what is needed.

    What they need is Christ. The old slogan, “Christ is the Answer” is true. What is needed is a Church Planting Movement across the country.

    Tas Walker

  8. The only real standard of statecraft is conformity to God’s principles of civil governance.

    Democracy always leads to greater freedom in a utilitarian sense, but if the majority are Atheists, Muslims or Buddhists the country will labour in vain.

    Mansel Rogerson

  9. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo requests prayer for Egyptian Christians. “Their insecurity could only be increased under an Islamist regime, and in the worst case they could even be forced to flee the country en masse. In addition, Egyptian Christians are already second-class citizens in their own country. They suffer severe discrimination in many areas of life, such as in education and employment. And if the Muslim Brotherhood were to seize power, they could rapidly be subjected to a raft of even more humiliating regulations, designed to exclude and degrade them further.”


    I think we should “pray for Jerusalem”, but I believe that includes praying for all the saints.

    Greg Cadman

  10. Alex Anderson, you said:

    “Democratic institutions have not evolved in any nation without a Judeo-Christian culture. The vital Christian distinction between the secular and the sacred – the tribute which is Caesar’s being distinguished from the religious devotion which belongs to God – is not recognized in Muslim societies.”

    The first part is quite true, but you need to take care with the second part. Christian theology recognises that God is sovereign over all of life, and all our lives are sacred all the time. In that sense Christian thinking is equivalent to Muslim ideas.

    But we also see that God is separate from His creation, and that is the basis for the distinction between what we render to Caesar and what we render to God.

    All of us, including Caesar, are under the sovereign hand of God – again all of life is sacred, and we render to Caesar in spiritual obedience to God.

    But God’s “separateness” means there are distinctions in various places – for example: we live as pilgrims because we look to our real life in heaven, but we work on earth as if Christ will not return for a long time; we are citizens of two places – a nation on earth but a heavenly city: Jerusalem the spiritual; we work as unto the Lord, not merely to please men, but we also are to do good for all men, especially but not exclusively for those of the household of faith.

    There is a lot that Islamic thinking doesn’t recognise about Christian thinking, isn’t there?

    John Angelico

  11. Thanks Bill.
    The latest piece of lunacy, by self-appointed physicist Joe Romm, is that the Egyptian upheavals are due to…wait for it…global warming, aka climate change!! Honestly, as people have forsaken the God of their fathers God has withdrawn their ability to reason and think straight. Years ago, this sort of bizarre belief would be something one would expect from crackpot fringe groups, and that goes for the whole global warming cult and its many rusted-on believers, not merely this latest piece of wild nonsense.

    The link to the nonsense from Joe Romm is here (and also other links to the same story can be followed up:

    John: while you may be right up to a point about God being sovereign over all of life, but I would see that as a theological mistake. Rather God’s sovereignty is over all be His providential disposals (cf. Psa.103:19; Dan.4:34-5 etc.). I would prefer to say that Christ is Lord over all aspects of our lives. However, to say that there is no “secular – sacred” distinction this side of glory is a simplicism. Your assertion that “the things that are Caesar’s – things that are God’s” is founded in God’s separateness from His creation does not deal at all adequately with the issue. In the world to come there will no longer be any such distinction (Zech.14:20-21), but not in this present world. This may annoy the Kuyperian devotees among us, but that is my considered position.

    Murray R Adamthwaite

  12. …. The Muslim world lacks the understanding of what is hindering them….

    Bill your above statement intermediately jumped out as the “real” problem. Where normally I would not have understood the depth and truth of this statement I now do. Why? I am reading the best non fiction thriller/chiller ever……. SON OF HAMAS……..Thank you for recommending it. Now I see, now I am really beginning to understand.
    John Shenton

  13. Thanks Bill for this very insightful article. How easily we can be deceived! Certainly the Muslim Brotherhood won’t miss any opportunities.
    Graham McLennan

  14. A well written and informative article Bill. However with the main stream media, a few of the letters to the editor have been from individuals who are well informed, probably professionals, but many come from those who decided to “have a bash” but have no understanding of the serious situation in the Middle East, where it is impossible to set up a regime, which is democratic in the sense understood by Australians. I hope Obama makes the right choices. Most people don’t realise that he is the most inexperienced politician in the modern era to enter the White House. American commentator Dick Morris, former adviser to Bill Clinton, but now a Republican, has already written Obama off, concerning Egypt. For once, I hope Dick is wrong. The Democrats do not have a good track record in relation to crises. The call “Who Lost China” led to the defeat of the Democrats in the 1952 presidential election. And then we had President Jimmy Carter sitting on his hands when the Shah was deposed in Iran, opening the door to Ayatollah Khomeini in all his “glory”. Dick Morris is of the opinion that if Dr Mohomed ElBaredei takes over, this will be an indicator of where Egypt is heading. ElBaderei, as IAEA head shielded Iran’s nuclear weapons programme from the Security Council and lobbied against significant UN sanctions against Iran – enough said.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  15. Daniel Pipes’ article in Wednesday’s Australian offers a bit of hope.
    Terry Darmody

  16. Here is a slightly different view on the issues in the Middle East, not just in Egypt. I has to do with the issue of food and the financial implications of supply and demand.

    I do like one of his comments..
    The best thing the United States could do at the moment would be to offer massive emergency food aid to Egypt out of its own stocks, with the understanding that President Mubarak would offer effusive public thanks for American generosity. This is a stopgap, to be sure, but it would pre-empt the likely alternative.

    Desperate (Starving) people do desperate things. Maybe the US should be giving more food aid instead of military aid.

    Jeffrey Carl

  17. Dear Bill, I think you have presented a very reasonable analysis on the Middle East situation. I also agree with Alex that the Western media is not a reliable source of analysis on the situation in Egypt because of their ignorance and appeasement of Islam and their thirst for sensation and headline grabbing. George Negus proved that the other evening when he showed a segment of young Palestinian women wearing full burkas and brandishing rifles telling the journalist that they wanted to be suicide bombers and kill Westerners.Then he qualified the whole segment by saying at the end of it that the concept was un-Islamic when in fact it is an Islamic construct. I left a comment on his web site and asked what possible reason he could have for showing such sensationalist rubbish because it wouldn’t benefit Australians least of all Australian Muslims who are mostly peaceful. The end comment was obviously thrown in to appease the Muslim community and deter any would be extremists.

    The situation in Egypt is also an excellent opportunity for the secularists, anti-Semites [they would say they were anti -Zionist] and all those on the left who have no time for Christians to accuse Christians of not being able to wait for Armageddon and that we think this is a sign of it. This is quite ridiculous of course because what Christian would really wants to live through the horror of Armageddon? We should be more interested in living as Our Lord wants us to live instead of speculating on the end of the world which Our Lord has said only the Father in Heaven knows the day and the hour of when it will come.

    As for Mubarak’s regime it did little to protect the minority of Coptic Christians in Egypt from persecution but will anyone else do any better?

    Patricia Halligan

  18. Thanks Bill.
    I am quite sure that the western world is not completely oblivious of the fact that these growing uprisings supposedly intended to bring about democratic reforms are only a guise to install extreme Islamic governments. In fact I am very much afraid that the bad wind which is beginning to blow towards the Sudan may threaten the results of the referendum which overwhelmingly favours the Christian South breaking away from the Moslem North. My question is, what should the US and the western world do radically to stop this rapid strengthening of Islamic extremism?
    Michael Ntanu

  19. And a great article by Melanie Phillips: http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles-new/?p=796

    “For the past seven years, western progressives have screamed without remission that George W Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Uncle Tom Neo-Con and all were criminally out to lunch to pretend that democracy could ever come to Iraq through ousting a dictator.

    The neo-con article of faith, that the Arab or Islamic world could or should embrace democracy and human rights, was held up as an example of cultural imperialism, racist bigotry or insanity or all three. Yet when the Egyptian protesters called for regime change and free elections, those very same Bush-whackers excitedly hailed this brave new dawn of Islamic freedom.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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