Monday, March 21, 2011

Egypt: the Honeymoon is About to End !

Reuters news wire carried this story on the new Egyptian government's referendum.

The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood (and its minions here in the US: CAIR) has been busy trying to convince the world that it is nothing more sinister than a "grassroots pro-democracy movement." They've even been trying to call themselves "secular", but with a name like Muslim Brotherhood, I don't think anyone is buying THAT Florida swampland.

Right now, the MoBro looks like the strongest contender for winning (I predict, by a landslide) elections which will seat the post-Mubarek government. Not everyone is happy about this, and the most vocal critics are, of course, the Copts (Christians). (Although I can think of a few other minorities whose lives will not necessarilly improve once sharia is fully implemented. )They're justifiably afraid that these changes are too much, too soon, and that people will vote in a new government which will move Egypt back toward the 6th Century.

This is from the wire story by Sara Mikhail:

"I fear the Islamists because they speak in civil slogans that have a religious context, like when one said he believed in a civil Egypt but at the same time no woman or Copt should run for president," said Samuel Wahba, a Coptic doctor.

The Islamist group has always sought to reassure Copts, who make up about 10 percent of 80 million citizens, saying they have the same rights as other Egyptians. But they have also historically opposed the idea of a Copt assuming the presidency.

Coptic Christians also want the new constitution to do away with Article 2, which says Islam is the religion of the state and Islamic jurisprudence the main source of legislation -- a point of tension with Islamists.

The Qur'an says very clearly that no Muslim should be under the rule of a non-Muslim, so it's no surprise that Copts would be forbidden to run for president. And women--well, they're barely human, so why should they aspire to that office?

But this is typical in Muslim countries. And if all voters are represented in the legislature, and Christians hold some seats, that's a move in the right direction.  It isn't often that someone from a 10% minority wins a non-corrupt presidential election. (There are plenty of examples of religious, ethnic, and political minorities who overwhelmingly  "win" elections that aren't really true elections at all.)

The real problem is that Egypt currently considers Islam the official state religion, and it bases a lot of its laws on sharia. After all, Cairo's Al-Azhar University is the seat of Sunni Islamist law.

Mubarek tried the best he could to walk a tightrope, holding sharia in check while trying not to alienate the scholars whose support he needed. He was committed to building Egypt's relevence as a modern country. He made a lot of mistakes, but those mistakes did not include thinking that a Egypt would be better off under the thumb of fundamentalist Muslim leaders.

The news story ends with this observation:

Egyptians took pride in the Christian-Muslim solidarity displayed during the revolution that toppled Mubarak on February 11 and hoped the uprising had buried tensions that have flared up with increasing regularity in recent years.

But these feelings were dampened in March after an interfaith romance sparked the torching of a church by Islamists, which led to sectarian clashes leaving 13 people killed.

Copts staged an unprecedented sit-in for nine days in front of the state's television building demanding the destroyed church be rebuilt. Some Muslims also joined in.

That last sentence is important--"Some Muslims joined in" the pro-Christian protest. Many Egyptian Muslims have reached out to show support to the besieged Copts (including Hosni Mubarek's sons). I am guessing that some of those Muslims are leery of the MoBro taking charge, too. But I'm also guessing they'll be steamrolled by the huge political machine the MoBro has been building for almost a century. And it's building up a lot of momentum.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Great piece. Well reasoned, I really enjoyed it.