The Sharia Apologencia

Prior to the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak and installed a military junta, the Egyptian government couldn't shut the Muslim Brotherhood up.  For a group whose philosophy is seventh century, the Brotherhood's techniques are leading edge, and it has found great success spreading its message on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  This makes its silence of late all the more chilling.  While it's possible that the Brotherhood misread Egypt's yearning for democracy and simply missed the boat, it's more likely that it sees rich opportunity in a post-Mubarak society.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has found unlikely defenders in the West, and is now portrayed as a paragon of Islamic moderation. Mother Jones describes a "collection of community organizers who operated clinics and food banks, building a network of Islamic banks and companies." This is not so different from the good works of Hamas, itself a branch of the Brotherhood. Yet mysteriously, nobody refers to Gaza as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Salon says the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda "is to make Egypt better. And their conception of what's good and bad has a religious basis." Lest one confuse them with America's founders, the author adds, "They don't want to necessarily completely convert Egypt into a traditional Islamic legal system. But if the parliaments going to pass a law, they want it to be consistent with Islamic law." The Afghanistan of 1997 is a flowering testbed of such "consistencies."

Even disregarding the New York City telephone book of pleasures banned in a properly ordered Islamic society (included on one list: "equipment that produces the joy of music"), Islamic law in Afghanistan reduced females to chattel and imposed penalties that would give pause even to Eli Roth. Lashings, torture, acid attacks, disfigurement, and -- for the very fortunate -- execution. Women were draped in burqas and locked in their homes with the windows blackened. It's hard to read about such oppression without dismissing it outright as ridiculous -- impossible, even. But some habits are hard to break, and women in Afghanistan still suffer under the weight of accord with Sharia Law.

It's hard to imagine Mother Jones or Salon defending homophobia in United States, yet the stonings and executions promised to gays in an Islamic state are soundly ignored. Where the Brotherhood has gone silent, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has taken up the cause, seeming to appear on every other transatlantic flight and op-ed page. The soi-disant democrat encourages the United States to engage (and thus legitimize) the Muslim Brotherhood -- no surprise, as he has long apologized for even the most barbaric of Brotherhood leaders, to include Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who once lamented the Holocaust, but only because Islamic "believers" weren't responsible. Oddly, the same apologists for the Brotherhood dismiss Egyptian affinity for the group. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy clocks Brotherhood support in Egypt at 15%. That no other formal Egyptian organization was mentioned should raise flags.

President Obama, after refusing to denounce the Brotherhood, waved a weak hand toward "a whole bunch of secular folks" sure to take power. The argument seems to be: "They'll never get elected, but if they do, what could possibly go wrong?" To be clear, this is an organization that supported the Nazis, the Soviets, and Al Qaida. They assassinated their prime minister and their president. The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait inspired Khalid Sheik Mohammed to violent jihad. The Washington Post has reported that Brotherhood cells in Germany and Spain "are suspected of organizing logistical support for the al Qaeda cell that carried out the attacks," and that the Brotherhood established a global banking network for Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

Who could blame Egyptians for shunning the Muslim Brotherhood? But when faced with a group so highly organized and capable of rapid mobilization, how great an advantage must they have in coming elections? And if elected, how efficient will the group be in establishing the medieval caliphate, which is their unambiguously stated goal?

These are questions that must be asked and answered. Counting on "a whole bunch of secular folks" is not a plan -- it's an ironic prayer. If one needs a voice of authority on the matter, he or she would do well to ignore the Sharia apologencia like Anwar Ibrahim, and instead turn to author and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She has experienced firsthand the business end of militant Islam, and warns that secular groups have failed to "come up with a message of opposition that says 'yes' to Islam, but 'no' to Shariah." She writes in the New York Times, "As I have come to learn over the years, few things in democratic politics are inevitable. But without effective organization, the secular, democratic forces that have swept one tyranny aside could easily succumb to another."

D.B. Grady is a former paratrooper with U.S. Army Special Operations Command and a veteran of Afghanistan. He can be found at www.dbgrady.com.
Prior to the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak and installed a military junta, the Egyptian government couldn't shut the Muslim Brotherhood up.  For a group whose philosophy is seventh century, the Brotherhood's techniques are leading edge, and it has found great success spreading its message on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  This makes its silence of late all the more chilling.  While it's possible that the Brotherhood misread Egypt's yearning for democracy and simply missed the boat, it's more likely that it sees rich opportunity in a post-Mubarak society.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has found unlikely defenders in the West, and is now portrayed as a paragon of Islamic moderation. Mother Jones describes a "collection of community organizers who operated clinics and food banks, building a network of Islamic banks and companies." This is not so different from the good works of Hamas, itself a branch of the Brotherhood. Yet mysteriously, nobody refers to Gaza as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Salon says the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda "is to make Egypt better. And their conception of what's good and bad has a religious basis." Lest one confuse them with America's founders, the author adds, "They don't want to necessarily completely convert Egypt into a traditional Islamic legal system. But if the parliaments going to pass a law, they want it to be consistent with Islamic law." The Afghanistan of 1997 is a flowering testbed of such "consistencies."

Even disregarding the New York City telephone book of pleasures banned in a properly ordered Islamic society (included on one list: "equipment that produces the joy of music"), Islamic law in Afghanistan reduced females to chattel and imposed penalties that would give pause even to Eli Roth. Lashings, torture, acid attacks, disfigurement, and -- for the very fortunate -- execution. Women were draped in burqas and locked in their homes with the windows blackened. It's hard to read about such oppression without dismissing it outright as ridiculous -- impossible, even. But some habits are hard to break, and women in Afghanistan still suffer under the weight of accord with Sharia Law.

It's hard to imagine Mother Jones or Salon defending homophobia in United States, yet the stonings and executions promised to gays in an Islamic state are soundly ignored. Where the Brotherhood has gone silent, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has taken up the cause, seeming to appear on every other transatlantic flight and op-ed page. The soi-disant democrat encourages the United States to engage (and thus legitimize) the Muslim Brotherhood -- no surprise, as he has long apologized for even the most barbaric of Brotherhood leaders, to include Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who once lamented the Holocaust, but only because Islamic "believers" weren't responsible. Oddly, the same apologists for the Brotherhood dismiss Egyptian affinity for the group. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy clocks Brotherhood support in Egypt at 15%. That no other formal Egyptian organization was mentioned should raise flags.

President Obama, after refusing to denounce the Brotherhood, waved a weak hand toward "a whole bunch of secular folks" sure to take power. The argument seems to be: "They'll never get elected, but if they do, what could possibly go wrong?" To be clear, this is an organization that supported the Nazis, the Soviets, and Al Qaida. They assassinated their prime minister and their president. The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait inspired Khalid Sheik Mohammed to violent jihad. The Washington Post has reported that Brotherhood cells in Germany and Spain "are suspected of organizing logistical support for the al Qaeda cell that carried out the attacks," and that the Brotherhood established a global banking network for Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

Who could blame Egyptians for shunning the Muslim Brotherhood? But when faced with a group so highly organized and capable of rapid mobilization, how great an advantage must they have in coming elections? And if elected, how efficient will the group be in establishing the medieval caliphate, which is their unambiguously stated goal?

These are questions that must be asked and answered. Counting on "a whole bunch of secular folks" is not a plan -- it's an ironic prayer. If one needs a voice of authority on the matter, he or she would do well to ignore the Sharia apologencia like Anwar Ibrahim, and instead turn to author and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She has experienced firsthand the business end of militant Islam, and warns that secular groups have failed to "come up with a message of opposition that says 'yes' to Islam, but 'no' to Shariah." She writes in the New York Times, "As I have come to learn over the years, few things in democratic politics are inevitable. But without effective organization, the secular, democratic forces that have swept one tyranny aside could easily succumb to another."

D.B. Grady is a former paratrooper with U.S. Army Special Operations Command and a veteran of Afghanistan. He can be found at www.dbgrady.com.