Dom Post on Egypt

June 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

For the first time in about 7000 years has a democratically elected leader. After days of delay, Mohammed Morsi, a 60-year-old United States-trained engineer, was yesterday declared the winner of the country’s first genuine presidential election.

His victory is the fruit of the popular uprising that ousted military strongman Hosni Mubarak in January last year. However, it remains to be seen whether the election changes anything.

Mr Morsi, a technocrat who stood only because the Muslim Brotherhood’s preferred candidate Khairat al-Shater was barred from the contest, has begun by making all the right noises. He has resigned from the Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, pledged to preserve Egypt’s international accords – a reference to its peace treaty with Israel – and promised to “represent” all Egyptians and appoint non-Muslims to key positions in his new government.

I’m not a fan of the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, but that is no reason that the Mubarak dictatorship should continue. I suspect part of the reason the brotherhood gets so much support is because they were almost the only force against Mubarak.

It is possible that things may go badly for Egypt, especially if their new Government did try to attack Israel or break the peace treaty. But actually being in Government tends to moderate the rhetoric of opposition.  As you get focused on growing the economy, providing better healthcare etc, reducing crime, you realise these are what really matter to voters. There is of course a risk that if things go badly, they will try and provoke a fight with Israel, in order to bolster domestic support. The Iranian President does this often.

However imperfectly Mr Morsi fits the bill, he is the embodiment of the hopes of the young Egyptians who risked life and limb to bring about the end of the Mubarak regime and the tens of thousands of others who have protested on the streets of Bahrain, Algeria, Yemen, Iran and now Syria.

How he manages the tensions with Egypt’s military, relations with Israel and the West and how he treats women and minorities will be watched not only in Egypt but around the globe.

Egypt has its first democratically elected President. That is what all countries deserve – the ability to elect their own leadership.

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44 Responses to “Dom Post on Egypt”

  1. Pete George (23,127 comments) says:

    Democracy is likely to get a bagging here, those who think democracy is great as long as people they disapprove of don’t win.

    That is what all countries deserve – the ability to elect their own leadership.

    It’s worth highlighting that.

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  2. sHr0oMaN (24 comments) says:

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
    HL Mencken

    Here’s hoping that freedom is preserved.

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  3. Pete George (23,127 comments) says:

    Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

    Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (11-11-1947)

    I’d rather see democratically elected Muslim government than a Muslim (or virtually any) dictatorship.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    These are generally good tidings for Egypt so here’s hoping.

    With regard to the nature of democracy. I’d view it as the lever to limit power and vote out bad government, rather than mechanism to appoint the perfect leadership of the nation. The former view resonates with the facts of history. The latter entails an unrealistic view of what government can, or ought to, do.

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  5. Fletch (6,093 comments) says:

    Nevertheless, I think Egypt has jumped from the frying pan into the fire. At least Egypt had agreements with America and Israel – they were working together. Whatever noises Morsy may be making, I have my doubts that he has divorced himself from the Muslim Brotherhood policies. It’s Carter and the Shah all over again.

    Here’s video of Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi, introducing Morsy’s election campaign on May 1, talking about uniting the Arabs, making Jerusalem their capital, and martyrs marching to Jerusalem.

    To be honest, it reminds me of Hitler addressing the people of Germany.

    (ps, I’m still not sure if it’s Morsi or Morsy – a google search has both, sometimes both within the same story).

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  6. Andrei (2,527 comments) says:

    These are generally good tidings for Egypt so here’s hoping.

    LOL – they are all going to sit around singing Kum Ba Ya while the new government implements homosexual marriage.

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  7. tas (596 comments) says:

    Democracy requires more than just an election. Morsy’s challenge is to build a democratic society–one that respects the freedoms of others, doesn’t tolerate corruption, and divorces politics from religion and ethnicity. It’s a big challenge to do that in a country that is used to oppression, has widespread corruption, and has deep sectarian divides.

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  8. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    The US republic was formed in an environment that had a healthy distrust of human nature and government – arranging the state in a manner the prepares for the worst in human nature, but then adopting a culture that asks people to strive for the best in their communities (though I note this is changing in the USA). It seems to me that the European Union is the other way around; formed in an environment where the elites, who think that the can master themselves and the state with perfect law, try to build utopia, while fashioning a culture that demands nothing from the average person, and promises that government will supply everything. These are very different views of what democracy is.

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  9. metcalph (1,394 comments) says:

    At least Egypt had agreements with America and Israel – they were working together.

    The Egyptian government was working tolerably with the yanks and israel but in terms of encouraging peace and happiness between the peoples of egypt and israel et al., it was little better than a cold war. 30 years of dictatorship and you still had the Muslim Brotherhood as the most popular party in Egypt?

    The main reason why I preferred the Muslim Brotherhood candidate is that the other guy was far to close to the old regime such that if he were elected, it would have been a case of same old shit. With Mursi in office, both the MB and the military are going to have to learn how to work with each other.

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  10. rouppe (932 comments) says:

    Lets not forget that Morsi used to be a card-carrying member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The next year will tell. Either the armed forces will try to hang on to power, or the Muslim Brotherhood will become ascendant, or Morsi will be able to tread a moderate path. This means violence, or violence, or a good outcome respectively.

    As you get focused on growing the economy, providing better healthcare etc, reducing crime, you realise these are what really matter to voters.

    If the Muslim Brotherhood becomes ascendant, then this is the last thing they will be thinking about. They will run around with sticks beating and stoning people who do not conform.

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  11. Brian Smaller (4,013 comments) says:

    Jesus H Christ David, you are the world’s most optimistic blogger. Here is what Morsi says in his own words.

    “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal,”

    He has already said that the capital isn’t Cairo, or Medina, or any other Arab capital, but Jerusalem.

    Good luck with your optimism.

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  12. Pete George (23,127 comments) says:

    It should be kept in mind that major doesn’t usually happen quickly or smoothly.

    The French Revolution took ten years.
    The Russian revolutions took 89 years to get democracy (if you take the 1905 revolution as the starting point).

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  13. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    On Morning Report today I heard a former Australian ambassador to Egypt (a professor no less) talking about this and he sounded quite confident that the place would not degenerate into an Islamist nightmare, and this seems to be mirrored in most of the talking head coverage I’ve seen in the West.

    Unfortunately these are the same talking heads who raved about the Facebook revolution they saw happening in Tahrir Square and foresaw some representative of the people holding cardboard signs saying “Freedom” in English, arising out of their midst to be a future President of Egypt, not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The other day I posted a link to a rather more sombre and grim prognosis from Caroline Glick, but excluded the following bit:

    In July 2011, the Brotherhood decided to celebrate its domination of the new Egypt with a mass rally at Tahrir Square. Levinson and Bradley [WSJ reporters] explained how in the lead-up to that event Egypt’s secular revolutionaries were completely outmaneuvered.

    According to their account, the Brotherhood decided to call the demonstration “Shari’a Friday.” Failing to understand that the game was over, the secularists tried to regain what they thought was the unity of the anti-regime ranks from earlier in the year.

    “Islamists and revolutionary leaders spent three days negotiating principles they could all support at the coming Friday demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They reached an agreement and the revolution seemed back on track.”

    One secularist leader, Rabab el-Mahdi, referred to the agreement as “The perfect moment. A huge achievement.”

    But then came the double cross.

    “Hours before the demonstration, hard-line Salafi Islamists began adorning the square with black-andwhite flags of jihad and banners calling for the implementation of Islamic law. Ms. Mahdi made frantic calls to Brotherhood leaders, who told her there was little they could do.”

    Checkmate.

    And so it goes. Some weeks ago cha posted a link to this article, by an Egyptian liberal political activist:

    It was clear to me well before the January 2011 uprising that if Mubarak ever fell, we Egyptians would be faced with two basic choices: Islamist Repression or Repression of Islamism. Nothing else can come out of free and fair elections here—at least for a long time to come.

    The only “moderation” that’s happening here is the Muslim Brotherhood pulling their claws in a bit because the military reaction. I did think they were overplaying their hand, especially in putting forward a Presidential candidate after so convincingly winning the parliamentary elections. Now they’re stalled on that front by the military and the court invalidating the bulk of that election, they’ll probably take a leaf out of the Turkish AKP book and play the Softly, softly, catchee monkee game with the military. A few show trials of corruption, picking off the occasional general; moving Islamist loyalists into the officer corp. It will take a few years but they’ve already come a long way in just two years: they can wait. In one way the military have given the MB a big out because they’re not going to be held responsible for the economy or general well-being of society. They can play Lenin to the military’s Kerensky.

    And in the meantime operations on the ground can continue apace. The Copt’s and others will continue to be persecuted with no consequences (poor Mr Morsy will wring his hands and look sad). There will be no military attack on Israel in the manner of the past, with huge mechanised columns heading across the desert – those efforts have been huge, public failures every time; far more successful have been myriad rocket and cross-border attacks by the likes of Hamas, combined with relentless anti-Jewish propaganda – asymmetric warfare is the ticket and the Egyptian MB will push it hard.

    I wanted Mubarak and the military rule gone years ago, mainly because I thought the longer they hung on the more likely was this outcome. But it’s too late now, and as as others have pointed out, you have to live with Democratic results because the forces stirring amidst the people themselves must have an outlet. As Glick points out:

    Recall that it was under Mubarak’s leadership that the Egyptian media reported that the Mossad was deploying sharks as secret agents and ordering them to attack tourists along Egypt’s seacoast in an effort to destroy Egypt’s tourism industry.

    If Democracy teaches us anything it’s that we cannot escape the consequences of what we choose. It may take Islamic Egyptians decades to work that out, but it’s really the only way. In the meantime this is going to get damned ugly.

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  14. grumpy (248 comments) says:

    From somewhere a bit less cheerleader than the Dominion here
    or here

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  15. Other_Andy (2,454 comments) says:

    The comment on this lame-stream media article is just as bad as the regular journalistas .
    Here we have a Muslim Brotherhood president. The Muslim Brotherhood is an organisation which has stated as its goal of destroying America eliminating and Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.
    Al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential Sunni Islamic clerics and the ideological leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, recently stated, “… and it is a duty of the faithful to obey Allah and his apostle and liquidate the enemies of Allah and, in particular the Jews”
    Al-Baltaji, who was the deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc in Egypt, said at a March 2010 conference, “A nation that excels at dying will be blessed by Allah with a life of dignity and with eternal paradise.”
    He also said that his movement “will never recognize Israel and will never abandon the resistance,” and that “resistance is the only road map that can save Jerusalem, restore the Arab honour, and prevent Palestine from becoming a second Andalusia.”
    So do you think they will honour the peace treaty with Israel?
    In your dreams!
    This is an organisation associated with Hamas, a terrorist organisation, with the destruction of Israel as its goal. An organisation that after it ‘won’ the elections in Gaza murdered all its opponents and have never held an election since.
    You must be deaf, blind and dumb if you think the election of a Muslim Brotherhood president is good news.

    As for Egypt being in good shape economically, they are not. They are virtually bankrupt and had it not been for a cash injection from the Saudis, the country would have collapsed. This is still a possibility. The Muslim Brotherhood has made some overtures to Iran which is a Hamas supporter and shares its hatred of Israel with the Brotherhood. As Iran (Shiites) is the arch enemy of the Saudis (Sunnis), the Saudis might withdraw support.

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  16. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    Re the optimism bit, I put this up a few weeks ago but it bears repeating in light of all this Pollyannarish discussion. The following was written a long time ago by Jan Karski, the now-dead Polish WWII hero who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He had seen real evil, peering right into the heart of one of the Nazi deathcamps. But he said of Western Democracies in relation to the Nazis:

    Democratic societies demonstrated on this occasion as on many others, before and after, that they are incapable of understanding political regimes of a different character

    Democratic societies are accustomed to think in liberal, pragmatic categories; conflicts are believed to be based on misunderstandings and can be solved with a minimum of good will; extremism is a temporary aberration, so is irrational behavior in general, such as intolerance, cruelty, etc. The effort needed to overcome such basic psychological handicaps is immense.

    Each new generation faces this challenge again, for experience cannot be inherited.

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  17. Dave Stringer (185 comments) says:

    Democracy exists in democracies (usually) for one day every few years, immediately after which everyone crosses their fingers for a benign dictatorship until next time.

    It is many years since we have had a democratically elected government, because MMP forces parties to compromise on the platform they stood for in order to govern at all.

    However, I agree that while not perfect, what we have is better than most other approaches.

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  18. grumpy (248 comments) says:

    Wait until Egypt starts stoning women and executing homosexuals – where will all these liberal media hacks be then?

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  19. mikenmild (11,158 comments) says:

    It would be naive in the extreme to expect the mere fact of elections to produce a peaceful, liberal democratic country. At least what democracy offers for Egypt is the oportunity for the will of the people to find expression in a representative government.
    It’s not really at this time to predict where its new government will lead Egypt. At the very least, the beginnings of true democracy offers choice to the Egyptian people. One hopes that these choices are for peace and prosperity.

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  20. Fentex (891 comments) says:

    Juan Cole, who seems to know where of he speaks on these matters, opines that Egyptians sought people in elections they perceived as honest, as foes of corruption, ahead of religious allegiance and that it would be folly of the Muslim Brotherhood to mistake votes for support for Islamist policies.

    He tells us that Egyptians are very mindful of the lessons of Algeria.

    But the Egyptian military seems to be playing from the Algerian history book and it now represents the greater threat of conflict. If it cannot give up power then what are the Egyptian public to do? Must they be content with simply swapping one dictator for a council of them?

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  21. Paulus (2,535 comments) says:

    Sadly I am a pessimist as far as Egypt is concerned. Mossi is already talking to Iran which is a theocracy with Ayatolla Khomeni being the Supreme Leader.
    Egypt already has the Ayatolla, who heads as Supreme Leader, the Muslim Brotherhood, ready to undertake absolute control over the Muslims.
    Like Iran which has a government, sort of elected, the Ayatolla has overall control. The government has responsibility for such as trade and financial matters, but theocratic control is in the hands of the Mullahs, which answers to the Ayatolla.
    Any other religion such as Copts, Christians, Catholics, of which there are many groupings need to be very afraid.
    Egypts largest export is tourists. This will crash within 12 months as Sharia Law comes in. Women will be subjugated under Sharia Law.
    The Army is the stumbling block, and unless they can be controlled by their leaders there will be serious trouble, leading to Civil war. Iran will of course oppose the Army from outside, by supplying Russian weapons to the Muslims Brotherhood.

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  22. kowtow (7,844 comments) says:

    I’m not surprised but am disappointed at the continual commentary about the so called Arab Spring.

    Just because you want something to be ,doesn’t make it so.
    Simply electing a leader doesn’t create a democracy. The rural poor of Egypt are conservative Muslims. The MB weren’t initially part of the popular demonstrations ,but have come through as the victors of same.
    The MB were the folk who shot Sadat at that parade……for making peace with the Israelis,nothing has changed since.

    There is no tradition of democracy in Islam. ……..Turkey you ostriches love to point out………their “democracy “is only guaranteed by the military and it is a very particular “democracy”, not one that we would in all seriousness recognise (unless you’re an EU technocrat who wants to flood Europe with Anatolian peasants)

    Egypt was once a majority Christian country,till Arab Muslim migrants tipped the balance. Interesting concept.

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  23. mikenmild (11,158 comments) says:

    kowtow
    That’s going back about 800 years though, to when Span was a mainly Muslim country, so what’s the point?

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  24. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    It’s not really at this time to predict where its new government will lead Egypt.

    That’s very mild and comfortable, but I see no reason why we cannot look at events in Tunisia, Libya, and Iran, draw negative conclusions from them and apply those to Egypt.

    As far as Juan Cole is concerned the politest thing I can say about him is that he conforms to the prototype Westerner described by Amr Bargisi in cha’s link. Cole has no real idea of what is happening now in the ME. In a country where WHO concludes that 90-95% of the women have undergone clitoridectomies, why on earth would the Muslim Brotherhood not mistake their parliamentary votes for support for Islamist policies? As a recent article about Tunisia pointed out:

    Hitherto the country had been comfortable with its legacy from France, the historic colonizer. Tunisians indeed tended to be secular, to speak French and drink alcohol and welcome hordes of tourists, bikinis and all.

    The Tunisian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, …. had long since driven Rashid al-Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian branch of the Mus- lim Brotherhood, into exile in London. As demonstrations intensified, Ben Ali called out the army. When the soldiers refused to obey orders, he had to flee abroad.

    Was it revolution or counterrevolution that al-Ghannouchi now returned in triumph from London? The ban on his Islamist party was lifted. In elections held under new rules, this party won nearly half the seats in parliament.

    French influence has vanished. Tourism is more or less nonexistent. Western behavior and Islamism are not compatible. Hillary Clinton recently and rightly accused Tunisia of backsliding. In mid-March, 500 women in veils and niqabs – but no men – attended a conference in Tunis. Speakers thought that democracy had failed, and a British Islamist spokeswoman declared, “We want the caliphate system, which has been historically tested and which is the system that can give a better future to Muslim women.”

    So not much hope from the feminist camp either, and that’s in the vastly more moderate, Westernised country of Tunisia. In the face of that alone I’m amazed that people can be so optimistic about Egypt.

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  25. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    I would suggest that Eygpt just had its last election for a very long time.

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  26. alloytoo (445 comments) says:

    “First democracticaly elected leader?”, posibly the last (for a very long time)

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  27. mikenmild (11,158 comments) says:

    tom
    Well, no doubt this is an argument that cannot be resolved at this time. I’m not sure what drawing negative conclusions from other revolutions acutally means, but I’ll guess that it is bad news for any country that chooses an Islamic government.
    I’d just make a couple of points:
    Islam does not appear to be incompatible with democracy.
    If Egypt followed a path similar to that taken by Iran over the past three decades, would that be altogether a disaster?

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  28. cha (3,823 comments) says:

    Re Tunisia. The Last Jews of Tunisia.

    Jews lived all over the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years, and they lived among Arab Muslims for more than 1,000 years, but they’re almost extinct now in the Arab world. Arabs and Jews didn’t live well together, exactly, but they co-existed five times longer than the United States has existed. They weren’t always token minorities, either. Baghdad was almost a third Jewish during the first half of the 20th century. Morocco and Tunisia are the last holdouts. In Tunisia, only 1,500 remain.

    What happened?What changed? Islam didn’t happen all of a sudden, nor did the arrival of Arabs in Mesopotamia, the Levant, and North Africa. Both have been firmly in place since the 7th century. A far more recent cascade of events transformed the region, and for the worse: the occupation of Arab lands by Nazi Germany and its puppet Vichy France, the Holocaust, post-Ottoman Arab Nationalism, Israel’s declaration of independence, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    As a consequence of all that, rather than the Arab invasion or the rise of the Islamic religion, almost the entire Arab world is Judenrein now. And since the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic regime in Iran, relations between Arabs and Jews are worse than they were at any time during the entire history of either.

    Yet 1,500 Jews hang on in Tunisia. The ancien Ben Ali regime kept them safe, as has Tunisia’s relatively tolerant and cosmopolitan culture. But what will become of them now that Ben Ali is in exile and his government is overthrown?

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  29. kowtow (7,844 comments) says:

    Spain was not Muslim majority, it was muslim ruled.And not the north which remained under Spanish rule.But that has nothing to do with the current topic.
    Egypt was similarly Christian majority but Arab ruled, Because the Arab muslims ruled it meant the native Egyptian Copts could not stop their own subjugation at the hands of their rulers.It was a combination of Islamic rule and Islamic migration that did for them, as it will the west.

    Migration and population, that’s the point.

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  30. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    Oh I think they’ll have elections, even the communists had elections, as have the Iranians, for years.

    They’ll just be elections where certain candidates are disqualified (probably for not being Islamic enough), combined with tons of intimidation at election meetings and polling booths, plus that tried and true tactic of the Third World – trucking in the voters on the day. Who knows, there might even be “real” competition against the Muslim Brotherhood – that is, if the Salafi party puts up a candidate. Rather like Labour and National.

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  31. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    I’m not sure what drawing negative conclusions from other revolutions acutally means,….

    milky, I’ve decided to regard your incredible obtuseness on a range of issues as cute.

    It’s my coping mechanism.

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  32. cha (3,823 comments) says:

    Not to forget kowtow that when they finished expelling or converting the Moors Christian Spain set about arseholing the Jews and persecuting the Converso.

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  33. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    An interesting thing to note was a speech Pope Benedict XVI gave a few years back (and all the talking-heads bitched about it but never got to root of the controversy because our media is useless) where he quoted a past philosopher who had commented (my paraphrasing here) that Islam is by its nature a more volatile cultural framework. Despite what most ignorant two-cent Kiwiblog commentator experts think, Christianity places a special premium on reason – that God is reasonable and has given us a brain to use and make decisions with. This means that when extremist Christians pop-up with unreasonable propositions, especially around the sanctity of life and violence, their fellow Christians engage, and often denounce them, by appealing to reason. Though not without blemish, at a corporate level the Catholic Church has been pretty good at denouncing those, even from within its own ranks, that think violence is OK.

    The challenge with Islam is that it teaches that God is Pure Will, and that reason is less of a factor in God’s purposes with mankind. This means that when extremist Muslims pop-up, it is more difficult to deploy reasonable arguments against certain ideas or actions; God wills it. And therefore those who are charismatic leaders or those with power (often through civil structures) are much harder to engage with. They believe God wills something, and appeals to holy texts or to the Natural Law that tend to the sanctity of life, can be useless.

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  34. mikenmild (11,158 comments) says:

    tom
    I was just responding to your own cute statement that ‘I see no reason why we cannot look at events in Tunisia, Libya, and Iran, draw negative conclusions from them and apply those to Egypt’. I mean you can apply that to any revolution you care to name. A revoluition is an accelerated political change – there will always be pluses and minuses, if you are the sort that likes to see history divided into winners and losers.
    So take one revolution, that of Iran. Positives – hasn’t invaded it’s neighbours, economically reasonably propserous, some prospect of a parliamentary democracy, rapidly modernising and liberalising young population. Negatives – revolutionary and Islamic rhetoric that sometime flows into action, a nuclear programme that perhaps sometime in the future will woryy other nuclear-armed states in the region, generally repressive and intolderant regime.
    You could do this for any country. It’s a bit too easy to label one revolution good and another one bad.

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  35. kowtow (7,844 comments) says:

    yeah cha and the Inquisition, those evil Spaniards…..
    and colonising and raping the New World…..
    anything else?

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  36. kowtow (7,844 comments) says:

    those lovely Iranians,
    arming Hezbollah and Hamas,destabalising the region
    terrorism in Afghanistan……

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  37. Brian Smaller (4,013 comments) says:

    Islam does not appear to be incompatible with democracy.

    ha ha ha. In what universe is that?

    Why not listen to the people who run those Islamic countries? They themselves say that Islam is not compatible with democracy. The idea of man making laws is contrary to the Islamic belief that Allah is the Big Tamale who ordains everything that happens.

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  38. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    Bloody hell milky – whole paragraphs, and no questions.

    Well done.

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  39. cha (3,823 comments) says:

    anything else?

    Oh, around six million of them.

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  40. mikenmild (11,158 comments) says:

    I’m not present an apology for the many bad things about Iran, but I just wanted to make the point that having an islamic government will not necessarily make a country completely evil or undemocratic.
    FWIW, the Economist’s democracy index only lists about 20 countries as ‘fully democratic’. One islamic country makes it as a ‘flawed deomcracy’ with the rest ‘hybrid regimes’ or outright ‘authoritarian regimes’.

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  41. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Little hope for Egypt and the whole area. The vile and barbaric Islam poisons everything.

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  42. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    MnM
    Where is islam compatible with democracy?and please , don’t tell me Malaysia.

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  43. tom hunter (4,527 comments) says:

    The following point has been made so often that it gets tiresome to repeat it – but here goes another try from yet another writer – Waking from the Democratic Dream:

    The story of Western civilization is in significant measure the story of the slow, inexorable ascent of liberal democracy. It is a grand story, full of civic tension, brutality, sacrifice, intellectual exploration, heroism and triumph.

    But this is not the story of Middle Eastern Islam, which emanates from a separate cultural etymology and distinct cultural sensibility. It isn’t realistic to expect that the peoples of this cultural heritage will embrace in any serious way the structures, sensibilities and practices of an alien culture, however successful it has been in comparison.

    Although it’s a chicken-end-egg argument, the problem lies beyond cultural factors – and it goes right to the heart of Islamic theology:

    As Islam emerged in the seventh century, the consensus of the community became by definition infallible. As Muhammad put it, “My people can never agree in an error.” This concept of an infallible community consensus lies at the heart of two fundamental Islamic religious ideas—first, that the individual is meaningless outside this infallible consensus and, second, that government and religion remain inseparable.

    Those ideas were incorporated into Islam in the seventh century and remain to this day bedrock maxims of Islamic thought—and powerful doctrinal impediments to the democratic impulse.

    I recall getting into some fight about this with Russell Brown a couple of years ago, and his response was entirely typical of left-wingers: this was just wingnut stuff because there were examples of Muslim societies that were democratic, and had been for some time; examples being Pakistan, Bangaladesh, Turkey and the crown in the jewel – Indonesia. In vain did I point out that all of those countries simply had a huge heritage of military “involvement” in government, which acted to suppress the basic urge to meld state and religion. From within Islam itself there was effectively no change, so when the suppression is lifted the original impulses are unleased – as Turkey is now finding.

    There is only one way that this is ever really going to be addressed, and that is if Islam undergoes some version of the Reformation that rocked the Christian world centuries ago, along with the Enlightenment. There are a few voices in Islam who seem to be attempting this, but they are very few – and powerless.

    And of course the consideration has to be made that perhaps Islam has had its Reformation, and that this is it!

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  44. mikenmild (11,158 comments) says:

    joanna
    most islamic countries rank as ‘partly free’ or ‘not free’ on the various indices. About 45% of countries rank as ‘free’. Mere presence of democracy in some form will not automatically ran a country as ‘free’. Of Islamic countries, Indonesia and Mali rank as ‘free’, while Albania, Bosnia, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, , Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco rank as ‘partly free’.
    tom
    Maybe that indicates that a military regime is a necessary precursor to better democracy in an islamic country! There remains a large gap in understanding between islam and the west (to put it mildly). There are some encouraging developments, notably the emergence of younger middle class citizens who are less contented with life under authoritarian and/or religious rule.

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