December 2, 2012
Morsi's Totalitarian Mandate Is ShariaBy Andrew G. Bostom
Theodore Roosevelt penned these remarkably prescient words in a 1911 letter to his longtime correspondent and friend, Sir George Otto Trevelyan, reflecting upon Roosevelt's post-presidency visit to Cairo, Egypt, the previous year.
Roosevelt's concerns about the recrudescence of "old-style Moslem rule" -- that is, a totalitarian sharia (Islamic law) not reshaped or constrained by Western law, may now be fully realized a century later.
Less than two years after the forced abdication of Egyptian President Mubarak, we appear to be witnessing the ultimate triumph of the electoral ascendancy of vox populi, mainstream Egyptian Islamic parties -- and most prominently, the Muslim Brotherhood. Muhammad Morsi, the Brotherhood's freely elected presidential candidate, has successfully outmaneuvered a minority coalition of secular-leaning Muslims, and Christians, to orchestrate the passage of a more robustly sharia-complaint Egyptian constitution.
Given President Obama's repeated admonitions (as reported here and here) that Mubarak relinquish power, immediately, during early February 2011, this prior Tuesday, May 19, 2009 confidential assessment of Mubarak by then-U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey raises profound questions about U.S. actions which facilitated his removal, and the subsequent triumph of Egypt's sharia supremacists.
The Hard-Won Local Triumph, and Global Aspirations of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan)
February 18, 2011 marked the triumphal return to Cairo of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) "Spiritual Guide" Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi's own words, accompanied by images and actions during this appearance, reaffirmed his obscurantist, albeit mainstream Islamic Weltanschauung of sharia-based, aggressive jihadism, and its corollary -- virulent Jew- and other infidel-hatred, which should have shattered the delusive view that the turmoil leading to President Mubarak's resignation augured the emergence of a modern, democratic Egyptian society devoted to Western conceptions of individual liberty and equality before the law.
Qaradawi's Tahrir Square appearance foreshadowed events that have transpired, predictably, from the subsequent nearly two years 'til now, punctuated by the open ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and party affiliates within Egypt and across North Africa and the entire Middle East. Indeed, Qaradawi's February 18, 2011 "khutbah," or sermon, to the adoring Muslim throngs that day reflected the longstanding aspirations of "martyred" Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna and was symbolic of an Islamic revival begun earlier by the so-called "Al-Manar modernists" -- Jamal Al-Din Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, and Muhammad Rashid Rida -- more than a century before Qaradawi took the stage at Tahrir Square.
Charles Wendell introduced his elegant 1978 translation of five Al-Banna treatises with a particularly astute summary assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood founder's Weltanschauung. Wendell stressed Al-Banna's seamless connection not only to the Al-Manar modernists, but to traditional Islam itself. Moreover, Wendell's concluding observations remain critical to understanding the deep Islamic religious animus towards Israel and the West -- so much in evidence today -- that Al-Banna and his movement both inspired and reflected.
Nadav Safran's 1961 study of modern Egyptian political evolution through 1952 confirmed that already by the late 1930s, Egypt's inchoate experimentation with a Western cultural orientation and constitutional polity had failed miserably, and the authentic Islamic ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood's al-Banna were prevailing. He provided this summary of the predominant attitudes by then, which:
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's popular appeal and resultant political ascendancy were clearly evident at the close of the 1940s. As noted by Richard P. Mitchell, pre-eminent historian of the movement's late 1920s advent and first quarter century of activities:
Olivier Carré's 1983 analysis of the profound regional impact of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood since the 1950s described what he termed, aptly, "a striking phenomenon," which pervaded Egypt, and the Arab Muslim Near East:
Carré concluded with this foreboding observation, borne out dramatically, at present, by the unfolding events of the so-called Arab Spring, most notably in Egypt:
Resilient tenacity and wide, ongoing appeal to Egypt's Muslim masses enabled the Brotherhood to survive brutal crackdowns under Egyptian autocrats Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. Spring Fever, Andrew McCarthy's invaluable recent primer, chronicles how the Brotherhood's current savvy, battle-hardened leadership rapidly capitalized on the Arab Spring "democracy" fervor to finally assume governmental power with the imprimatur of parliamentary and then presidential electoral victories.
Morsi's (and Egyptian Muslims') Caliphate Dreams?
During a presidential campaign speech broadcast on May 13, 2012, on the Egyptian television station Misr 25, Morsi revealed, unabashedly, his traditionalist Islamic Weltanschauung. Extolling the sharia supremacist ideology championed by Muslim Brotherhood founder, Hasan al-Banna, whom Morsi invoked, he proclaimed,
Morsi concluded this part of his speech by making clear that he would work aggressively to implement the sharia as president:
Accordingly, what are the salient features of the sharia, and how broadly do these doctrines appeal to Egypt's Muslim masses -- not just that cheering mid-May 2012 audience of Morsi supporters -- as demonstrated by recent polling data?
Derived from Islam's most important canonical texts -- the Koran and hadith (the canonical collections of the Muslim prophet Muhammad's deeds and pronouncements) -- and their interpretation and codification by Islam's greatest classical legists, sharia, Islamic law, is not merely holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion to personal hygiene to the governance of a Muslim minority community or an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, sharia's liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties -- including freedom of conscience and speech -- enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs and of even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.
But is this ancient, brutally oppressive totalitarian system still popular amongst Egyptian Muslims? In a word, yes. Polling data were released April 24, 2007 from a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the 1,000 Egyptians surveyed desired this outcome: "To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate." (Emphasis added.) The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a caliphate was strongly suggested by a concordant result: 74% of Egyptian Muslims approved the proposition "To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Sharia law in every Islamic country." Moreover, defined by Muhammad either in the Koran or in the hadith, the sharia mandates draconian "hadd" punishments for certain offenses, including (lethal) stoning for adultery; death for apostasy; death for highway robbery, when accompanied by murder of the robbery victim; for simple highway robbery, the loss of hands and feet; for simple theft, cutting off of the right hand; for "fornication," a hundred lashes; for drinking wine, eighty lashes. Polling data reported in December 2010 by Pew revealed that 77% of Egyptian Muslims supported mutilating punishments for theft, 82% endorsed stoning for adultery, and 84% favored the death penalty for so-called "apostasy" -- i.e., forsaking Islam for another religion, or becoming an atheist or agnostic.
This is the overall popular sharia-affirming context in which to view Morsi decreeing himself sweeping executive powers, within 24 hours of U.S. and worldwide praise for his role in brokering a ceasefire between Hamas's jihadist Gaza regime and Israel. As Morsi aide Pakinam al-Sharqawi, alluding to the starting date of the 2011 uprising against former Egyptian President Mubarak, opined on Al Jazeera:
Effectively neutralizing a judicial system which had become a dogged opponent, Morsi's decree barred the courts from challenging his decisions. Morsi now not only holds executive power; he also assumed de facto legislative authority after a prior court ruling issued just before he took office on June 30, 2012 dissolved the popularly elected and powerful lower house of parliament, which was spearheaded by the Muslim Brotherhood. Having seized two branches of power, Morsi deftly eliminated many prerogatives of the third, the judiciary.
Placing himself beyond oversight, simultaneously, Morsi secured the traditionalist, sharia-supporting assembly body drafting Egypt's new constitution from judicial challenges calling for its dissolution. Dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other traditionalist Muslim members, this assembly has striven to produce a sharia-based draft constitution, which, understandably, "opponents fear would marginalize women and minority Christians, infringe on personal liberties and even give Muslim clerics a say in lawmaking." During the past week, in protest of what they claimed was the hijacking of the process by Morsi's sharia supremacist allies, Christian and secular-leaning members withdrew from the assembly.
Now, the traditionalist Muslim, sharia-advocating assembly, which had been working until recently with a minority of secularists and Christians for months, has just raced to pass the draft Constitution during a nonstop marathon session during which it approved 234 articles.
Comparing the suspended 1971 Constitution with the current draft charter, several features, consistent the more pronounced influence of sharia, are immediately apparent:
The constitution was praised by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who noted that it contained "principles and values needed by Egyptians." Qaradawi added, "Even if it contains shortcomings, they could be addressed later" -- perhaps alluding to his avowed stratagem of applying the more draconian aspects of sharia, such as hadd punishments, gradually, during a "transitional" accommodation period.
By Saturday evening (12/1/12), President Morsi made a public appearance hailing the Constitution and urging Egyptians to vote to approve the charter in a national referendum to be held December 15, 2012. Morsi even vowed to resign if voters reject the Constitution in the proposed referendum, according to a report in Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Morsi's open advance of a sharia supremacist agenda is clearly an affront to Egypt's chronically beleaguered, indigenous, pre-Islamic Coptic Christian minority. However, Morsi's successful actions seem far less confused and hypocritical than those of his so-called "liberal" Muslim opponents.
On September 23, 2012, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president issued presidential order No. 1/2012, appointing 3,649 judges to Emergency State Security Courts (ESSC). The ESSC, which operated during Egypt's 31-year state of emergency under the previous Hosni Mubarak regime, and during the military transition to Morsi's June 2012 election to power, have notoriously violated basic due process guarantees. Wednesday (11/28/12), consistent with both that three-decades-long ignoble history and Islam's ongoing, millennial, sharia-based rejection of freedom of speech, an Egyptian state security court issued a verdict which sentenced eight persons to the death penalty -- seven expatriate Coptic Egyptians and American pastor Terry Jones -- for "blaspheming" Islam. Egyptian Judge Saif al Nasr Soliman stated:
Their alleged specific "crime" was involvement in the production of the amateurish film, The Innocence of Muslims," which, despite its crude cinematography, accurately depicts some of the less than salutary behaviors of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, as described in the sacralized Muslim biographical sources.
Morsi, on September 13, 2012, proclaimed:
Curiously, none of Egypt's high-profile "liberal Muslims," be they jurists or recent presidential candidates such as Amr Moussa (former head of the Arab League) and Muhammad El-Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning ex-director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, have publicly condemned this heinous, albeit sharia-compliant judicial verdict.
Charles Watson (1873-1948) was born in Cairo of missionary parents, and he became one of the founders and presidents (from 1922 to 1945) of the American University at Cairo. Watson's devoted educational contributions to Egyptian society were acknowledged by an appreciative Egyptian government. Notwithstanding his empathy for the Egyptian people, Watson recorded these frank, timeless observations in 1937, borne of his study of Islam and validating life experience in Egypt (emphasis added):
Seventy-five years later, devoid of Watson's profound experience-based understanding, egregiously warped American policymakers and diplomats in the Obama administration, and President Obama himself, have recklessly helped empower the most dangerous avatars of totalitarian Islam, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
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