Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Egyptian Thriller

Below is an op-ed about Egypt that was published on Friday by Ralf Pittelkow, the political correspondent at Jyllands-Posten.

Many thanks to Hans Erling Jensen for the translation. Note: this article was written just before Mr. Mubarak resigned:

The Egyptian thriller
by Ralf Pittelkow

Ralf PittelkowOnly one thing seems clear in Egypt: President Mubarak is on his way out. What then will happen is an open question. Yes, more than that: It’s a thriller.

The call for free elections is in itself very positive. But there is a risk that free elections could end in a new tyranny.

These realities were drowned in the first days of excited reports from Tahrir Square in Cairo. Especially when television delivered an impression that “the people” had now risen in the struggle for democracy. Who has not seen one journalist after another rushing around in fluttering shirts and talking with excited voices?

What do the Egyptian people intend?

Up to one million people in the square at the peak — that was impressive. But there are 20 million people in Cairo and 80 million in Egypt. They are the people, and it is time to take an interest in what these people actually think.

On this issue, we can gain important insights from a new study of popular attitudes made in a number of Muslim countries, including Egypt. It was conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Islam must have power

The Egyptians are divided in assessing whether Islam should play a significant political role in the country today. But a massive majority of 85 percent believes it should. Islam should not only be a faith; Islam must have power.

What kind of Islam? Pew asks whether people distinguish between “innovators” and “fundamentalists” within Islam. Most Egyptians do not. But among those who do distinguish, far more people identify themselves with the fundamentalists than with innovators — 59 percent versus 27.

Other aspects of the Egyptian attitudes are also astounding:

82 percent are in favor of punishing adultery with stoning to death. 77 percent believe that thieves and robbers should be punished by flogging or the amputation of a hand. Fully 84 percent believe that one should be punished by death if he leaves Islam!

Free elections for what?

There is little support for personal freedom, which for us is a vital part of democracy. The same lack of support also applies to the dealings between sexes: a majority is in favor of gender segregation at work.

Most Egyptians would like free elections. But as stated, their ideas of how free elections should be used provides a fertile ground for Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is by far the strongest support organization in Egypt’s opposition.

The Brotherhood’s relationship to democracy is deeply ambiguous. It wants free elections, but democracy must follow Sharia, Islamic law. What happens then if the people elect politicians who will not follow Sharia law?

Brotherhood’s role

Reform-minded forces in the movement speak of an unequivocal respect for free elections. But the movement’s dominant force leaves much fear that they will not give up power once they have it. They are also opposed to Egypt’s peace with Israel.

The Brotherhood has a tradition of working cautiously and pragmatically. Therefore, its role is difficult to predict. It will of course also very much depend on how strong a counterweight is built up from the system (the military) and from other opposition parties.

But most Egyptians would use the freedom they may gain to give Islam more political power. Forget all the talk about Egypt being a democracy in the European sense. The task will be to prevent Egypt from evolving into an Islamic dictatorship.


Anne-Kit said...

"The task will be to prevent Egypt from evolving into an Islamic dictatorship."

And good luck with that! Although by nature an optimist, I must admit that as regards the situation in Egypt I am deeply pessimistic about the future.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the organisation from which Al Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas and all other Muslim terror networks spring. It is their stated intention to bring about Sharia Law in every nation on earth; they are the sworn enemy of the West and of Israel.

You tell me how, if 85% of Egyptians are in favour of Sharia and Islamic power, Egypt can become 'democratic' in any Western sense of the world?

toro said...

They want Islam, let them have it :)
I know it's pointless, but this is the situation on the ground. The Islamic world lost their common sense long time ago and the only way to get it back is to enact their fantasy. As Freud would say, trying to enact a fantasy will end up in a nightmare. They need it.
In other news, both UE and US should stay away. Egypt will be an Islamic state. Thank you Obama.

felix said...

The Pew research survey you cite is certainly depressing. However it's difficult to tell Muslim majority countries that they must have Mubarak-like dictators because if they become democratic we are afraid they will elect sharia-oriented Islamists to govern. So we'll have to hope for the best...

Profitsbeard said...

All deathcults, like Islam, have a deathwish.

They think:~only for the hated other.

But it also includes themselves, unconsciously.

Mohammadism is doomed by its internal contradictions and deified irrationality.

How many of us infidel dogs will have to die in the death throes of this dismal dogma is the damned question.

If our pithed and pathetic "leaders" in the West had known more about Islamic History, as Churchill knew in 1898 already, this Civilzational disaster would never have been allowed to metastasize so far.

But we're trapped in their multiculti delusion of the moral equivalence of every believer and belief, and the resulting gotterdammerung-level battle will now kill unnecessary millions before the plague of Islam is scoured from the world.

The tragedy is that, had we remembered the bloody lessons of Charles Martel and Lepanto and Jan Sobieski and the exploded Parthenon, it did not have to be.

Richard said...

The Caliphate is being reformed, once again the West is at peril from dar al Islam. As is normal the West is composed of squabbling nations that are working at cross purposes and with internal traitors working for their own gain. We let the left destroy our educational system so they could try and take over, and now we are repeating the mistakes of history. With luck the end result will be the same, the West will triumph and Islam will be suppressed for several centuries.

goethechosemercy said...

Non-Western, Islamic democracy = tyranny of the majority.
And it always will.

Kevin Stroup said...

People get the government they deserve. What kind of government do the Egyptians deserve? LOL.

Hesperado said...

felix wrote:

"However it's difficult to tell Muslim majority countries that they must have Mubarak-like dictators because if they become democratic we are afraid they will elect sharia-oriented Islamists to govern."

To which I reply: Sure, and it's also difficult to drain swamps in order to build more housing for people who need it; but we do it anyway, because it's right (notwithstanding Leftists who want to "preserve wetlands" and Muslims).

sulber nick said...

The West needs this to rouse itself from torpor.