Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Egypt: Will it go the way of Iran?

  March  2011 

Now that the crowds on Tahrir Square have gone home, Hosni Mubarak toppled from his throne, and  the military has taken over, can we breathe easier in the knowledge that freedom has finally arrived in Egypt?  Maybe. 

No doubt that many Egyptians  want to replace the Mubarak dictatorship with responsible government and a free society. But are there sufficient human and social resources within the population to organize and participate in the necessary rebuilding of the nation? 

The looming question in all of this is: What is the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the changes now underway in Egypt. This organization was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Bana who was a  fanatic promoter of radical Islam. Its motto is:  “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” 

A Radical Agenda

Ai-Bana summarized the Brotherhood’s ambition as follows: “It is the duty of every Muslim to struggle towards the aim of making every people and the whole world Islamic, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all corners of the world.” 

What is the likelihood that the revolution taking place in Egypt will lead to a good ending unlike the 1979 revolution in Iran? 

Some experts consider the military the suitable institution to direct the transition from dictatorship to democracy. But to be successful it will have to overcome its history of propping up the Mubarak regime, which inevitably has made many officers and foot soldiers complicit in the corruption and abuses of this regime? 

Many in the West fall over each other in wanting to assure us that the Brotherhood, whatever its violent history, has changed its ways and now favours democracy and pluralism. President Obama has used his office to boost its status by praising the “moral force of nonviolence” and recommending that  the  M B be  included in the future government. 

The campaign to downplay the threats of the MB is in full force in the media, not surprisingly, led by the New York Times. Essam El-Errian, a member of the  guidance council of the MB explained that it has consistently  demanded liberation and democracy. It now is a participant in the exploratory meetings with the military authorities. It  promised “ not to co-opt the public’s agenda.”  El-Arrian wrote that the MB has “no special agenda of our own,” and it wants to recognize the rights of all Egyptians. (NYT, Feb. 9, 2011)

It is all sweetness and light. But then comes this caveat:  The secular type of Western democracy is not suitable for Egypt. El-Arrian envisions a “democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which is central to Islamic values…and inherently compatible with and reinforce Islamic tenets.” (emphasis added) 

Do you feel better now after being assured that the MB only wants what is best for all Egyptians?  Anyone who has paid some attention to the practice of Islamic law (sharia) knows that what El-Errian is saying is nonsense. In fact his claims are bald-faced lies. There is no Muslim state governed  by Islamic law that leaves any freedom to the non-Muslims. 

A Repeat Performance

As now, 32 years ago the NYT opened its pages to the enablers of the late Ayatollah Khomeini who was responsible for turning Iran into a concentration camp. Former Princeton professor Richard Falk wrote in glowing terms about the 1979 revolution in Iran led by Khomeini.  He stated that it was wrong to depict this Muslim cleric as a “fanatical reactionary,” whereas this might well be Iran’s “finest hour” that is set to become a” model of humane governance of a third-world country.” (NYT, February 16, 1979) 

The reality is that the Brotherhood  has served and continues to serve as a seed bed for radical Islam all over the  world. It is very clever in adjusting its practices to changing circumstances. It  mostly promotes radicalism and violence. But of late it has seen the value of infiltrating and participating in the western democracies and in situations of radical upheaval -- as in Egypt now, and in Iran 32 years ago.

In closing, what is my answer to the question in the title?  I fear that Egypt will be a repeat of Iran, in part because of the support the MB receives from gullible Westerners also called “useful idiots.”  I  hope and pray that I am wrong. 

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