Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hope and Change in Egypt; Naiveté and Wishful Thinking in the West

By Barry Rubin

Much of the mass media seems to be saying, to paraphrase John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “All we are saying is give the Muslim Brotherhood a chance.”

There are three arguments supporting this policy that are worth discussing in large part because the Muslim Brotherhood’s advocates don’t have any others.

The first,which one hears everywhere, is that the Muslim Brotherhood is full of factions that are moderate and hip young people who want real democracy.  If this were true it should be easy to prove. Here are some of the ways to do that:

Who are the leaders of these factions? What is their composition? Where have the put forward alternative positions? What posts do they hold in the movement? Was there a battle among factions on choosing the Brotherhood’s parliamentary or presidential candidates? How have they reinterpreted in a more liberal way Sharia law? Do their opponents in Egypt recognize the existence of these factions? Do those who defected from the Brotherhood say that the movement they formerly thought to be irredeemably radical  has changed?

At the same time, the Brotherhood’s leadership continues to come up, without contradiction in the ranks, with the most extreme, intolerant, and bloodthirsty positions. Even if it were to be established that other factions exist one would have to show that these factions had some chance of directing policy.
And the young hip people in Turkey’s old fogey Islamist movement have now been running the country for almost a decade, carrying out the work of fundamental transformation in that once secular polity toward being an Islamist state. They are far from finished.

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