Any pretense of a hopeful outcome from the so-called “Arab Spring” is all but gone. The Guardian reported at the beginning of this month that the Islamists will be the wielders of power in Egypt, and their agenda is precisely what those who warned of their rise feared it would be.
Two once-banned Islamist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salaf Nour Party, appear to be the big winners of Egypt’s Parliamentary elections. Their plans for Egypt are abundantly clear, expressed in terms that should cause concern in the West, and already do in Israel.
Guided by a Saudi-inspired school of thought, Salafists have long shunned the concept of democracy, saying it allows man’s law to override God’s. But they decided to form parties and enter politics after the exit of Mubarak in February.
Salafi groups speak confidently about their ambition to turn Egypt into a state where personal freedoms, including freedom of speech, women’s dress and art, are constrained by sharia.
“In the land of Islam, I can’t let people decide what is permissible or what is prohibited. It’s God who gives the answers as to what is right and what is wrong,” Hamad said. “If God tells me you can drink whatever you want except for alcohol, you don’t leave the million things permitted and ask about the prohibited.”
While there are ideological differences between the Brotherhood and the Salafists, those differences are far narrower than those that exist between either of those groups and anyone else on Egypt’s political scene. Talk of any major rift that would prevent a coalition is wishful thinking, and similar assertions by leaders of the groups themselves are for public consumption and somewhat less than genuine. Interestingly, the Guardian article describes the Muslim Brotherhood as the more “moderate” of the two Islamist groups. This is the very same Muslim Brotherhood that openly admired Hitler’s Third Reich, and enthusiastically supported the Final Solution. Positions which, tellingly, they have never renounced.
Leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood Hamed Saeed’s words sound an unwelcome thunderclap in the ears of Western diplomats. Saeed declared last January that “unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States.”
And so it has, and is not finished yet. There was nothing spontaneous about it. Western leaders, including our own, have been thoroughly outmaneuvered, as have any moderates who had hoped in those early days of the “Arab Spring” for a permanence of the new liberties they believed they’d won.
If the scenario rings eerily familiar, it should.