Has the Arab Spring in Egypt turned into an Islamist nightmare?

Last year, when so many on this board were delighted with the possibility of democracy in Egypt, I pointed out that a PEW research poll of October 2011 had shown that over 80% of Egyptians favour of stoning a woman taken in adultery as well as executing apostates from Islam. (Of course, you know crazy old Islamophobic Valteron – soft as a grape!:p)

Now, strictly speaking, if democracy means majority rule, there is no reason we could not give the name to a country in which the majority choose to implement what we would consider gross violations of the rights of the individual and brutal punishments that should outrage any civilized human being.

But now that we are starting to see the shape of the future “democratic” government of Egypt, it is obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood and their candidate Mohammed Morsi will be in the driver’s seat. Here is what Morsi said in a mid-May speech before students at Cairo University:

“The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal. Today we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia. The Muslim Brothers and the Freedom and Justice Party will be the conductors of these goals.”

Now take a look at this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI3wG3loKlA of an Egyptian cleric, Safwat Higazi, campaigning for Mohammed Morsi on May 1. Does this remind you of a newborn democracy or of a Nazi rally with Hitler screaming that he will exterminate Poland?

Instead of the promise of “Lebensraum”, we are being promised a Caliphate with its capital in Jerusalem. One guess as to what happens to Israel.

Take a look at what has been happening to the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt. They have been fleeing the country in terror.

Quite simply, is this what you imagined when the world rejoiced in Egypt becoming a democracy last Spring? Is it not time to help the only REAL democracy in the middle east, Israel, will weapons and funding so they can defend themselves against this religious fascism?

A newborn democracy. Lots of democracies, including ours have loudmouths who say dumb things.

Israel has an open Fascist for a Foreign Minister who calls for requiring all Israeli Arab citizens to sign a loyalty oath or have their voting rights stripped and he’s made noises about ethnic cleansing.

The guy you’re linking to is a mere cleric not a Foreign Minister.

Not really. Most of the Copts supported the overthrow of Mubarak.

By contrast, both Israel and the occupied territories have been hemmoraging Christians for decades and at the current pace most of the ancient Christian sites of the Holy Land will be giant open air museums.

There are currently more Palestinian Christians living in Chile than in “Palestine”.

The same is not remotely true of Egyptian Christians though their status and treatment is hardly enviable.

While many don’t support the MB’s ideals it’s certainly the case they were elected in an albeit perverted process, something the military cannot even say. It appears a united people against the figurehead Mubarak have finally come against the real power, only this time they don’t have the support of secular idealism in the movement.

Support becoming Syrian or Iran? If I lived in Egypt, I don’t know what I would do.

Syria and Iran may be allies but Syria is a secular, socialist dictatorship which slaughtered the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood during the revolt against Assad’s father which culminated in the mass slaughter of the town of Hama.

Egypt has zero chance of becoming anything like Assad’s Syria and, if anything, wasn’t too dissimilar under Mubarak.

The claim that Israel is “the only real democracy in the Middle East” is flatly untrue. Turkey and Tunisia are democracies as well as Egypt. The notion that Egypt isn’t a real democracy because voters voted for a candidate you dislike shows that you don’t understand what democracy means.

I was happy when Mubarak fell last year, even though I knew what was likely to result. Throughout the Bush years, when the Bushies trumpeted democracy in the Middle East as the solution to everything, I knew that true democracy would be beneficial to Islamic radicals in the short term. I said as much in many threads.

However, in the long term the Arab Spring is good news for all. First of all, any country is always better off when its people have the right to choose their leaders.

Second, though, is that the Arab Spring broke the pattern that had prevailed in the Middle East for fifty years. When a secular dictator like Mubarak rules a country and rules it with corruption and incompetence, it creates an environment where Islamic radicalism can flourish. People grow frustrated with the leadership, and they associate the leadership with liberal, western values. Hence there’s a backlash against those values. But once a party like the Muslim Brotherhood is in power, people will associate them with leadership. If the country is run badly, it no longer hurts those liberal, western values.

Not to mention Lebanon and Iraq.

When in Egypt, do as the Egyptians do. They are a nation with a rich tradition of civilization that goes back farther back than we can imagine. They are the doers and we are the critics, let us not forget.

And recently in America there was a video of a North Carolina pastor calling for gays and lesbians to be placed in a concentration camp. Let’s not judge a democracy by its extremes.

I think the problem is that the media keep framing the events in the Middle East from an Enlightenment perspective. The ideal last year was that somehow social media (twitter/facebook revolution) would enable the populace to break completely with their islamic past, that we were witnessing a revolution reaching their (read: our) “natural” conclusion, a secular western style democracy. And from that perspective, yes, it is turning into an Islamist nightmare.

Pretty much this. In the short term, the more radical aspects of their society will (almost certainly will) come to the forefront. However, assuming that they don’t then set aside the Democratic process, eventually that will change and shift as their society changes and shifts…which it will. No society remains static forever. The situation we have now is that the radical religious types have been the ones struggling against the secular dictators who have been keeping the people down, so of course if you bring in democracy the radical religious types are going to be the ones to win the vote of the majority. But the machine is there for eventual change, if they just trust it and keep it going. As ITR says here, once the radical religious types actually GET power, and start trying to do all of their wish list, it’s going to put them in the limelight…which is going to eventually get people thinking about alternatives, especially as their society changes over time.

I’m not saying this process will only take a year or so…it could be years or decades before there is such a shift. And maybe there never will be, and the people will always want a democratically elected religious theocracy in charge. But maybe not.


Look, the nightmare in Egypt right now has nothing to do with Salafism or religion, it is that the government right now is pretty much completely ineffectual and street crime is totally out of control. Law enforcement was pretty much THE issue in the election, not whether or not stoning of women is a good thing. Link.

So, if our self-described Islamophobic OP wants to put his money where his mouth is, perhaps he and I can make a wager on when the law legalizing the stoning of adulterers is going to be enacted in Egypt. A couple of weeks? Two months? It surely can’t take longer than half a year, can it? So let’s make a bet: $100 says that in six months there will not be a law compelling the stoning of adulterous women in Egypt.

In which version of reality has the United States not provided billions in weapons and funding every year for the past several decades in order to support our best friend in the Middle East?

This assumes that the radically religious will maintain the system of democracy that put them in power, so that as society shifts they are voted out as easily as they were voted in - or that, if they do not, the people will rise up and depose them, as the dictator was deposed.

This is by no means guaranteed.

It is too early to say, of course. If I was a betting man, I’d say odds were that the islamicists, once installed, proceed to struggle with the military for the levers of power; if they manage to subdue the military, they will set up a system in which elections are more or less a sham; but if the military bests them, the military will set up a system where elections are more or less irrelevant.

It is very, very difficult to set up a functioning democracy where none existed before. Turkey has managed it, but only after a long history of military coups. Problem is, a functioning democracy requires more than simply voting - it requires that the process have such legitimacy in the population that even highly unpleasant poltiticans and military leaders of every type (and each country has them) do not dare to monkey with the process when they hold the whip hand. It requires a rule of law stronger than any power base.

Deposing the dictator is the easy part.

We sent billions to Egypt as well you know. :stuck_out_tongue:


Is there some sort of offset that I’m not aware of, where billions in foreign aid to Israel doesn’t count if anyone else also gets foreign aid?

Yes, that’s the assumption.

Nope, no guarantee at all. Democracy is a tricky thing and takes constant vigilance to keep it on track. Egypt could wind up like Iran, which is democratic in name only, as your choices for who gets elected come from the theocracy (you can choose the crazy radical guy who more secular, or the crazy radical guy who is more religious, where ‘more secular’ and ‘more religious’ are pretty slight differences, but ‘crazy radical’ is pretty much the same :p). Only time will tell how things pan out there and in other places (gods know what is going to become of Syria, for instance).


Well, there is this thing called ‘a joke’ that is in play here, where humor is attempted…


You Earthlings have strange linguistic rituals which are not logical.

We come in peace, however…


Worth noting that at this point it is by no means clear how much power the democratically elected government actually has. The military junta has asserted the right to edit the Constitution as it sees fit, and did so just before the presidential election to give itself more power and the president less.

But what if it is run well?

Correction: the above is what quite a lot of anti-Islamic blogs claim Morsi said on May 13. The original source appears to be something called the “Voice of Russia Radio Website”.

Is there a transcript from some reliable news source that confirms these remarks were actually made?