Backstory Update: Egypt Since Tahrir Square

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ashraf Khalil joined us in January 2011, as protesters filled Tahrir Square. On today’s Backstory, he updates us on how Egypt’s democracy has taken shape, the growing power struggle between the country’s military and its democratically elected officials, and the mixed messages of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit there earlier this week. Ashraf Khalil is the author of Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.


Ashraf Khalil

Comments [2]

joe from nearby

Sounds like Ashraf is yelling from the other end of a tunnel.

Jul. 19 2012 01:31 PM
gary from queens

Hilary said (July 15th, 2012): “Real democracy means that no group or faction or leader can impose their will, their ideology, their religion, their desires on anyone else.”

When she uttered those words, she was meeting to support Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose platform is full enforcement of sharia as the law of Egypt, and following that, met with the secular military junta to pressure it into surrendering power to the freely elected parliament and presidency----both of which are dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet Islamic culture is implacably hostile to what Mrs. Clinton correctly says real democracy means. Thus, by elevating sharia and the mere ornaments of democracy (popular elections) over what she perfectly described as real democracy, WHAT SHE DID completely undermined WHAT SHE SAID.

When she uttered the above comment, she meant that real democracy requires a secular space in civil society where citizens are free to live indifferently to, or even in contradiction of, the rules and mores of the leadership’s ideology/religion.

Now consider the following statement: “Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.”

That statement was actually made by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in a 2010 book he wrote about the need for Islamic societies to resist Western ideas----"How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah."

Qaradawi, who holds a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence from storied al-Azhar University, is the most influential Islamic cleric in the world. Put aside, for a moment, his fatwas approving suicide bombings. Despite those and a host of other despicable preachments, Qaradawi actually is fairly “moderate” as some of these scholars go. He is the very voice of mainstream Middle Eastern Islam and the one Obama has embraced.

Yet an excerpt of his book printed in the Saudi Gazette entitled: “Why is secularism incompatible with Islam?” is as radical as they come. He adheres to the classical interpretation of sharia that prescribes the death penalty for a Muslim who publicly apostatizes from Islam.

You cannot have real democracy as described by Mrs. Clinton AND Islam as taught by Sheikh Qaradawi. You can have one or the other, not both.

The constitutions the State Department has been writing for “Islamic democracies” for the last decade install Islam as the state religion and enshrine sharia as a fundamental source of law (with Muslim societies naturally taking this to mean sharia is the fundamental source of law).

This is worse than fraudulent. Fraud in this context would only mean we were being duped into believing secularism and Islam are compatible. But these constitutions don’t just fool us; they actually endorse Islam and its sharia system as the society’s “comprehensive system of worship and legislation,” to borrow Qaradawi’s formulation. If you have that, you cannot have real democracy.

Jul. 19 2012 12:08 PM

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