Why I Declined the Facebook Invitation to Support Egyptian Protesters

By: Bored in Vernal
February 6, 2011

Last week I was invited to join a facebook “event” – A Virtual “March of Millions” in Solidarity with Egyptian Protestors. How exciting it looked, with its fanpage and impassioned wall posts! “Egypt, you are the family of all nations,” one supporter wrote, “and we stand by you in your struggle for freedom and democracy. As your children we recognise your need to enjoy the rights and privileges we all share – equality, liberty, fraternity and social justice! MARCH!!!” Like many Americans, I’ve been stirred by the many youthful faces on the news, by the rhetoric of freedom and bravery. But I hesitated to click that button and become the 707,210th facebook user to support the Egyptian cause online.

My initial feelings of trepidation stemmed from my observation that the protesters had no clear leader in mind to fill the power vacuum that would be left by their calls for Mubarak to step down. This is never a good situation. Political analysts here in the U.S. state that there is no need to fear that a charismatic leader of an Islamic opposition will arise. But I continue to experience disquietude over the several political groups which could come to power and diminish democracy and freedom rather than augment it. In the last few days there have been reports that current Vice-President Suleiman is being supported by the U.S. and other nations to replace Mubarak. But other figures do have support within Egypt and elsewhere in the world. For instance, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa is one of those who has expressed his willingness to lead the country.

Here in the West we seem to applaud this revolution for its dedication to democratic principle. But I fear the humanitarian track record of the groups behind the revolt leaves something to be desired. It bothered me that when Mubarak’s government urged all parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to engage in national dialogue, the Brotherhood flatly rejected the offer. The Jerusalem Post reported that a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt told the Iranian news network Al-Alam that he would like to see the Egyptian people prepare for war against Israel.

For many years Mubarak has supported a tenuous peace with Israel. Thus, the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has characterized Mubarak as the “lackey of the Zionist regime [of Israel].” He also described the recent developments in North Africa as the result of the “Islamic awakening, which followed the great [Islamic] Revolution of the Iranian nation.” I wasn’t too thrilled about how that turned out, and I’m not anxious to see the establishment of Sharia law in Egypt.

Finally, one might well wonder how a new regime might affect religious liberty in Egypt. There are an estimated 10 million Christians in Egypt, including small groups of Mormons. These groups continue to experience religious discrimination and sectarian tension. Despite decrees issued by President Mubarak in 1998, 1999, and 2005 to facilitate approvals for repairing, renovating, expanding, and building churches, the efforts are often hindered by local security and governmental officials. I can’t imagine that the situation could improve with a more Islamic-leaning leader.

While I’m not aboard the Beck-train of doomsday prophecies and Islamic caliphates, I also can’t get too excited about coup d’etat in Egypt just now. How about you? Readers, are you figuratively marching with the revolutionaries in Egypt and their internet supporters, and if so, why? Can your arguments convince me to join the party? Or do you, too, have apprehensions that this movement may backfire?

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76 Responses to Why I Declined the Facebook Invitation to Support Egyptian Protesters

  1. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 6:25 AM

    BiV,

    I’m not anxious to see the establishment of Sharia law in Egypt.

    Perhaps if we do not listen to pro-Israel lobbyists here in America, we might realize that Sharia law isn’t the boogeyman they would like us to believe. Sharia Law is actually pretty decent. It has its drawbacks, no doubt, but for a Muslim nation, what exactly do you suggest they choose in order to adequately and legitimately use to run the country and keep order? American secularism?

    Finally, one might well wonder how a new regime might affect religious liberty in Egypt.

    maybe if Christians around the world stop trying to create a clash of civilizations, Christians in a Muslim country might live more peaceful lives.

    While I’m not aboard the Beck-train of doomsday prophecies and Islamic caliphates, I also can’t get too excited about coup d’etat in Egypt just now. How about you?

    Glenn Beck is an idiot and so are all those who agree with his idiocy. Personally I am excited about what’s going on in Egypt. Their anger isn’t fueled by a desire to overthrow their way of life. Their anger is fueled by frustration over their economic condition and police brutality. Frankly I don’t think those people there mind who necessarily is in charge as long as they are treated well. I think this is the case with most people around the world. The times of most frequent revolutions occur when the particular country is hit hard with economic collapse. In Egypt, Mubarak failed to provide economic reforms to keep up with the massive increase in population over the last 30 years. The vast majority of those protesters were born in a completely Mubarak world. They’ve never known a different Egypt. This is wonderful because this generation will not allow a leader from now on in Egypt to simply get away with failing policies. It would be great if they could set up some sort of more democratic system there, but I won’t be upset if they don’t. Democracy works well when people are not utterly divided in their world views. When they are, that tends to lead to civil wars and high unrest. Iraq, for instance, will be in this tenuous civil war position for the foreseeable future. Sunnis and Shi’ites there have thousands of years of anger at each other. It’s not going to be resolved simply because they now are “free.”

    Finally, one thing to note, for those who are fans of Thomas Jefferson, I’ll say this. He would cheer with the Egyptian protesters. He loved the French Revolution! Even though it brought about high uncertainty in France, and well, all over Europe. Personally, I would love for the Egyptian Revolution to be the equivalent of the French Revolution to Europe.

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  2. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    FWIW, Frank Rich’s column in today’s NY Times is spot on.

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  3. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 6, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2011/02/04/more-email-from-egypt/ is an interesting comment on the entire event.

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  4. JP on February 6, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    I tend to agree with Dan. Just because there is some uncertainty about he final outcome in Egypt, and just because some revolutions in the Middle East (Iran) have installed theocracies instead of democracies, that doesn’t mean that Egypt will do the same thing. The Islamic Brotherhood is a minority faction of the revolution, and they are not militant (like Hamas or Hezbollah). Also, the protestors themselves are not protesting Mubarak’s secular government; they are protesting the fact that he is a dictator, the fact that they have few job opportunities, and that fact that the future is bleak – with little hope for improvement while he is in power. You can’t reason with dictators, and Mubarak’s feign of diplomacy is a disingenuous ploy to stay in power.

    They are revolting for their freedom. I think that is a cause we can get behind (our country has some history here) despite the fact that we know it’s ultimate outcome. There was also some uncertainty during our own nations revolution.

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  5. JP on February 6, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    Sorry – the second to last sentence should read “despite the fact that we DON’T know it’s ultimate outcome.”

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  6. Course Correction on February 6, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Revolutions are all potentially dangerous. Our own country faltered for several years between the end of the Rev. War and the establishment of the Constitution.

    But Mubarak’s regime is unsustainable. Supporting it just because he’s pro-American makes no sense. In the end the Egyptian people have the right to make their own choice of government–and we should not expect it to be an American style of democracy.

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  7. Bored in Vernal on February 6, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Dan, thanks for being gentle with me — I was afraid to put this post up b/c I knew you weren’t going to agree.. :)

    OK, I’m not disagreeing with the reasons for the revolution AT ALL here. I realize why they are doing it and I agree that their situation is terribly difficult. I am just not so confident that the power vacuum will be filled with what something that will improve on the situation.

    CC #5 makes an excellent point that the Egyptian people have the right to make their own choice of government and that we should not expect it to be an American style of democracy. I personally believe there are other forms of government which are as sustainable (or more) than our republic.

    However. Tell me, if you will, what the Egyptians have in mind to replace Mubarak. I guess my main fear is that they don’t have a clear succession plan. JP, I do worry about this. Do you think Suleiman is a good choice to lead the country — will he be able to reform the problems that have prevailed during Mubarak’s administration?

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  8. Bored in Vernal on February 6, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    and, I should add, do you think the Egyptians will even go for the Suleiman plan?

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  9. Mike S on February 6, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    I would have a hard time with Sharia law, but would probably have a hard time with any religious law. It seems the problem with many of them is that they are implemented at the whim of a particular leader.

    I would have had a hard time if Brigham Young told me and my family to uproot to some remote place because I did something he didn’t like, or whatever.

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  10. Corktree on February 6, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    I never join those types of groups, but in this case I did because I was one of those that falsely believed online support was driving the protests. I’m also a very typical sampling of the uniformed masses that the NY Times article mentions, but I’m working on it. Thanks for pushing me to dig deeper. Great post.

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  11. FireTag on February 6, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Revolutions are successful or crushed according to the ruthlessness of the government. Only occasionally do they succeed in producing a better system; at least as often they produce something worse. Empires tend to climb up from chaos, and they are more likely to resolve back to chaos or new empire than to transition to broader freedom AND greater societal welfare.

    How many of you are still facebook friends with the Iranian protesters from 2009? How many noticed that Hezbollah last month simply took over the Lebanon government as the UN was about to indict Hezbollah for a leading role in assassinating the father of the PM to crush Lebanon’s independence of the Syrian-Iranian orbit?

    Shoot, my granddad spent the year after WW1 marching around the Arctic circle trying to help the “white Russian” democratic forces keep from being swallowed by the Communists after the Czar was toppled. That revolution sure worked out well — two generations later, maybe. There were a lot of crushed revolutions in Eastern Europe in between.

    Nevertheless, history is a multi-player game. America isn’t the decision-maker anywhere in the Mideast where we aren’t prepared to fight. The Egyptian people, the Palestinians, and the Jews will make their own choices whatever we do.

    But to me, it looks like the crocodiles and the cobras are simply maneuvering to see who gets to eat the gazelle over the next months and years.

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  12. Mark D. on February 6, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Anything that comes out of this that isn’t a functioning democracy is almost certainly going to be worse than what the Egyptians have now. Of course there is a constituency for an Islamist dictatorship in Egypt, but that is certainly not going to improve the lives of anyone else.

    So this slow motion, lets have a real debate about this, set up a constitution, and have representative elections thing is enormously important. If that happens I suspect Egypt will mostly end up being an Islamist influenced democracy like Turkey, which would be outstanding relative to the possibility of being an Islamist dictatorship like Iran.

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  13. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 6, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Mark D. Yes. Kind of like how things went in Iran. Though the issues are interesting, and are ones we should discuss more often.

    How does one go through a French Revolution (complete with purges), Napoleons and on to a true republic? How do you get an American Revolution instead? How about a Canadian transition?

    How do we react and analyze in each situation?

    Political science ought to be teaching kids that sort of thing in high school and college …

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  14. Henry on February 6, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Islamic state/caliphate, here we come!!! For Egypt, that is.

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  15. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 6, 2011 at 11:47 AM
  16. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 6, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Oops, wrong thread.

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  17. alice on February 6, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    I wonder how people’s aversion to considering sharia law for people whose cultural values it reflects feel about churches here dictating things like religiously-based Prop 8 to civil government and civil society.

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  18. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    BiV,

    I am just not so confident that the power vacuum will be filled with what something that will improve on the situation.

    They may or they may not. We’re not the arbiters of what is best for Egyptians.

    Tell me, if you will, what the Egyptians have in mind to replace Mubarak.

    I don’t know. That’s the hard part of replacing a dictator. There are few who have the experience or charisma to take control in some more representative fashion. That was our major problem in Iraq. The charismatic opposition leader under Saddam Hussein was Muqtada Al-Sadr, and we have vilified him the whole time, even though he has great support among a large segment of the Iraqi population.

    Do you think Suleiman is a good choice to lead the country — will he be able to reform the problems that have prevailed during Mubarak’s administration?

    Dunno, but my guess is that he will do better than Mubarak will, because he knows he’s under the gun, so to speak.

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  19. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    Stephen,

    Political science ought to be teaching kids that sort of thing in high school and college …

    Having received a bachelor’s degree in International Politics from BYU, I can attest that they do teach this kind of stuff in college.

    How does one go through a French Revolution (complete with purges), Napoleons and on to a true republic? How do you get an American Revolution instead? How about a Canadian transition?

    Not every revolution is the same, but there are telltale signs of the probability of success or failure in an attempt at a revolution. The Tiananmen Square revolution of 1989 failed because the students failed to convince the working class to join their protests. Without the working class, the military was certainly not going to change. And of course, the political class, at the top, had no fear. The revolution was crushed. On the other hand, later that fall and winter, the revolutions in Eastern Europe succeeded because at all levels, student, worker, military and political, they all wanted change. This Egyptian revolution follows the same pattern. Students and workers protest. The military chose to side with the protesters, and eventually those in the political class also broke with the regime. Mubarak will be out. It is a very impressive revolution because it has such little bloodshed. In the Romanian revolution, for instance, the military did side with the students and workers, but the political class, with their Securitate did not, thus over 1000 people died in the bloodshed until Ceausescu was finally executed. Revolutions failed in Serbia until the Kosovo war of 1999. It was then that the military finally turned against Milosevic.

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  20. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Henry,

    Islamic state/caliphate, here we come!!! For Egypt, that is.

    What’s wrong with that?

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  21. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    How do you get an American Revolution instead?

    oh, and technically, our “revolution” was not really a revolution but a rebellion. We kept a similar political system with a parliament. We just didn’t want the British controlling us. It’s like East Timor. That wasn’t a revolution, but a breaking away.

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  22. Tatiana on February 6, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    It’s always a danger when a revolution happens that the successors can be worse than the ones currently in power. However, I’d rather choose hope than despair at this stage. I’m worried about the rights of Egyptian women, and want to make sure they aren’t forgotten, but still there is so much hope for the future that things will get much better in many, many ways.

    The internet and all the new communications technology is in the process of making oppressive governments obsolete, and I see that as a very good thing.

    All change is fraught with danger, but also with the possibility of new beginnings. I’m for the people, for hope and optimism over stagnation and fear. If we don’t have hope, we can’t possibly ever achieve new good things. I see more reason to hope than to fear, in this movement.

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  23. Mark D. on February 6, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Dan: Sharia Law is actually pretty decent.

    You mean like the mandatory killing or (if they are lenient) imprisoning of apostates? That’s decent? What about honor killings of those who commit fornication or adultery? And homosexuals? Rampant discrimination against women?

    Most of the progress in the Middle East over the past century has been due to the large scale abandonment of sharia law in favor of secular legal systems. The exceptions are the countries still stuck in the eighth century, most notably Saudi Arabia. If you want to turn the clock back about a thousand years, sharia law is an excellent option.

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  24. Bored in Vernal on February 6, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Mark D. #23 — Thank you. Some of my comments here are informed by the eye-opening year I spent living as a professional woman in Saudi.

    Also. Today in Primary Sharing Time a lesson was given, complete with graphics, on how a building should not be thrown up without having a detailed plan first (as a segue into the Plan of Salvation). I know it’s not always possible to plan ahead in politics or revolutions. They seem to ignite when the time is right. But not having direction leaves so many openings for factions who want to “guide” the transition. The United States, for example. Pundits are calling for U.S. involvement in Egypt with typical American presumption. In the Weekly Standard today:

    …the United States must support the Egyptian awakening, and has a paramount moral and strategic interest in real democracy in Egypt and freedom for the Egyptian people. The question is how the U.S. government can do its best to help the awakening turn out well.

    Are the Egyptians truly going to be able to choose freely what rises from the breakdown of the Mubarak regime?

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  25. JP on February 6, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    I agree with Mark D: not sure if Sharia Law is the best option. But I don’t think we’re headed for Sharia Law and the next Muslim Caliphate in Egypt. Again, the revolution is not framed in a religious context. It’s a revolution for freedom and opportunity. Religion doesn’t have much to do with this revolution.

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  26. FireTag on February 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    JP:

    So thought the Christian Lebanese and the secular Palestinians. The people with the guns are quite capable of making it about religion, unfortunately.

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  27. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 6, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    “Sharia Law is actually pretty decent.”

    most uninformed, idiotic statement i’ve heard in at least a week. Sure. It’s decent when there’s a secular government keeping it in check.

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  28. Jettboy on February 6, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    I believe there will be a war against Israel in the next five years. Egypt’s fall, and that is how I see it, will be nothing more than Iran in the late 70s. A religious zealot Caliphate is the inevitable outcome. No one can prove otherwise with the hard facts on the ground. However, there are enough facts about who we know is trying to fill the power vacuum to have this as an inescapable conclusion. Every single event that happened in Iran is showing up in Egypt today. After all, you have the Iranians applauding the move. That means they have something planned and don’t for a minute believe its all just words. They have shown a willingness and ability to mess with the affairs of other nations in the area.

    “In the end the Egyptian people have the right to make their own choice of government–and we should not expect it to be an American style of democracy.”

    That is what makes me dismiss the Egyptian call for “freedom” and whatnot. Unless its American style democracy then its no democracy at all. I don’t exactly mean the three branches of government, but I do expect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” along with similarities to the Bill of Rights. Anything less than that is tyranny soft or hard.

    “Finally, one thing to note, for those who are fans of Thomas Jefferson, I’ll say this. He would cheer with the Egyptian protesters. He loved the French Revolution!”

    That is only half true. He loved the French Revolution until it got out of hand. When the elites were butchered he repented of his support and became disgusted.

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  29. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    BiV,

    Are the Egyptians truly going to be able to choose freely what rises from the breakdown of the Mubarak regime?

    No, because there are far too many interested external parties who will do their best to influence the direction as they please. Israel certainly will do what it can to direct the path, even if it means starting a war with Egypt. America will probably not allow Egyptians to have the Muslim Brotherhood lead them for instance. Remember, al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s number 2, is from the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptians will not be totally free to choose whomever they want, but at least, from what I see, they are having a say, which they have not had in a very long time.

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  30. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Mark,

    #23,

    You are focusing on the bad, which is understandable. Muslims are Christians’ nemesis, right? We gotta constantly focus on their bad stuff. Frankly, as Mormons, we have little to criticize others when it comes to the treatment of gays, but that’s neither here nor there in this matter. Let me ask you, does Turkey use anything of Sharia Law in their legal system? Or is Sharia Law solely about the brutal punishment of anyone who is not an imam? Perhaps we all should at least visit the wikipedia page on Sharia Law to get just a brush up on what it is. It also shows which countries practice Sharia Law at which legal level. I don’t personally vouch for its qualities or non-qualities. I would not endorse it as a system anyone should use. But it’s not the boogeyman some would like to make it.

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  31. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Jettboy,

    I believe there will be a war against Israel in the next five years.

    you’re giddy, ain’t you? Gotta love seeing other people die…might as well just drop our nuclear bombs on them and get it over with. It’s all inevitable anyways, right?

    A religious zealot Caliphate is the inevitable outcome.

    Let’s kill! Kill! Kill!

    No one can prove otherwise with the hard facts on the ground. However, there are enough facts about who we know is trying to fill the power vacuum to have this as an inescapable conclusion. Every single event that happened in Iran is showing up in Egypt today. After all, you have the Iranians applauding the move. That means they have something planned and don’t for a minute believe its all just words. They have shown a willingness and ability to mess with the affairs of other nations in the area.

    What a bunch of bullcrap…except the last part…they’ve learned from the best at how to mess with the affairs of other nations. They clearly have not forgotten Mossadeq.

    That is what makes me dismiss the Egyptian call for “freedom” and whatnot. Unless its American style democracy then its no democracy at all. I don’t exactly mean the three branches of government, but I do expect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” along with similarities to the Bill of Rights. Anything less than that is tyranny soft or hard.

    more bullcrap.

    That is only half true. He loved the French Revolution until it got out of hand. When the elites were butchered he repented of his support and became disgusted.

    show me the money.

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  32. Tom O. on February 6, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Dan,

    Read the papers, or whatever news gets printed on these days. That wonderful Turkish secular Islamic state you boast of is steadily descending down the dark path of radicalism. Certainly no model it is.

    When fundamentalist Islam and politics mix, freedom has no quarter.

    And as far as your carping about Prop 8, I certainly have no desire to threadjack, but you really do yourself no favors when you compare Islamic treatment of homosexuals with the Church’s advocacy in favor of a public referendum. And furthermore, the self-evident absurdity of the claim that Prop 8 was a case of religion imposing itself on the public should negate the need for a response, but blog comments (yours truly included) can be a little dense at times. It should be said again: it was the voters of California that approved Prop 8; as far as I’m aware Church HQ didn’t go to a polling place on election day.

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  33. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Tom,

    I wrote:

    Let me ask you, does Turkey use anything of Sharia Law in their legal system?

    You decode:

    That wonderful Turkish secular Islamic state you boast of is steadily descending down the dark path of radicalism.

    huh…I don’t recall calling it “wonderful”

    When fundamentalist Islam and politics mix, freedom has no quarter.

    When fundamentalist Mormonism and politics mix, freedom has no quarter.
    When fundamentalist Christianism and politics mix, freedom has no quarter.
    When fundamentalist [name your favorite religion to hate] and politics mix, freedom has no quarter.

    As for Prop 8, as you say, no need to threadjack. That’s all I have to say.

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  34. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 6, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    comment #20 Islamic state/caliphate, here we come!!! For Egypt, that is.

    What’s wrong with that?

    comment #33 When fundamentalist [name your favorite religion to hate] and politics mix, freedom has no quarter.

    Answered your own question. Congrats.

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  35. Jettboy on February 6, 2011 at 8:23 PM
  36. Dan on February 6, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    thanks Jettboy. Fascinating indeed. It seemed only when the revolution affected him and his position did Jefferson turn against it…

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  37. Jettboy on February 6, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Partly, but he mostly turned against it when he realized exactly who was taking power and the methods of doing that. Accuse me of wanting to kill, kill, kill all you want. The truth is that I have followed history. Do you know who declared war with Israel in the 60s? It was Egypt. Guess what one of the possible Egyptian leaders from this revolution said? Lets declare war on Israel. What is currently going on in Egypt has never turned out good for civilization. The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Iranian Revolution. The American Revolution is unique and could have easily turned out just as bad.

    I’m not saying I know what the answer to Egypt should be. However, I agree with Bored in Vernal that we shouldn’t knee-jerk support the uprising without a far better change of a peaceful democratic takeover.

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  38. Tom O. on February 6, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    Dan,

    I’m curious about why you seem to have less of a problem with a Sharia-based Islamist government in Egypt than you have with the Church, either officially or through its members, expressing its views on public issues such as SSM. If I’m mistaken, please clarify.

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  39. Mark D. on February 6, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Dan, Turkey is officially a secular state and the used of sharia in the judicial system is prohibited. That doesn’t mean that Islam doesn’t affect the way people vote of course, and for the past few years a quasi-Islamist party has been in power in Turkey. Not so dominant as to establish an Islamist theocracy or anything like that though.

    I think it is perfectly reasonable and proper for Islamic legal heritage to influence the laws and procedures of an Islamic majority state, especially when filtered through a representative democracy.

    The problem with sharia law per se, however, is that it amounts to turning over the legal system to a group of fundamentalist religious clerics, essentially turning any state that adopts it into a theocracy. Hardly an enlightened theocracy either, but one where the highest credit to any legal position is compliance to the state of art in Arabic tribal culture thirteen or fourteen centuries ago.

    A comparable example would be if we found the most fundamentalist Protestant ministers we could find and appointed them and their successors to the Supreme Court in perpetuity, with the iron clad rule that all legal decisions had to find some basis not in the Constitution but rather in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

    This side of the sixteenth century, I doubt we could find fundamentalist Christian ministers half as scary as what passes for enlightened opinion among advocates of the Islamic legal system, however. The movement for sharia law is a minority even in Muslim countries, it just happens to be extremely well funded by Saudi Arabia in particular.

    So you have Muslims who are relatively moderate vastly overshadowed by a much smaller minority who really do want the world run as an Islamic theocracy, with all that entails. Worst part being, once you are a Muslim, you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.

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  40. FireTag on February 6, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    Jettboy:

    I think your comment with regard to war with Israel within 5 years may be optimistic. Israel and Iran are at the state of covert ops war with each other now, and Iran is one of the external actors that has every motive to stir up strife between Israel and Egypt. Hamas launched a couple of rocket or mortar attacks on Israel each week, and Israel replies with air or artillery strikes on smuggling tunnels the next day. Israel (and/or other Western countries) uses targeted assassinations, sabotage, and really spectacular cyberwar attacks to slow down the Iranian nuclear weapons program which (more than economic sanctions) appear to be responsible for delaying all out war from happening now.

    The notion that Israel wants trouble with Egypt is Dansian fantasy (that is more polite than “bullcrap”, Dan!). Every rocket attack and the resulting counter airstrike are reported in the Israeli press, with the reason for the airstrike specifically noted. Last Monday night, had you happened to look at the Jerusalem Post about midnight EST, you would have seen headlines noting that three attacks had just been launched on Israel from three separate parts of Gaza. One struck close enough to an Israeli wedding to require treatment of four of the wedding party for shock.

    But here the pattern diverged from normal. By morning, all references to the story were gone, and there was no announcement of a counterstrike. That, in Israel, means military censorship pulled the story because they considered it too likely to inflame people in both the Jewish and Arab communities. (This is similar to what happened when the Israelis bombed the Syrian weapons reactor built with Iranian and North Korean help a couple of years earlier; no one said anything in Israel or Syria until the story had leaked out in the Western press.) The counterstrike happened a couple of days later and was reported, meaningfully, without any reference to what had provoked it.

    Israel is lying very low. But the Islamists, as they did when Carter reached out after the Shah’s fall, think they have the initiative and are likely to try to further drive wedges between the Arabs, the Muslim Africans, the secular Persians, and the West.

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  41. J. Madson on February 7, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Please note that under Mubarak’s rule, this has never happened.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Af5E6fTdlw&feature=youtu.be

    Let us also be clear that when people say they support democracy except when the result is something they dont like, it is just another way of saying they are opposed to democracy.

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  42. Dan on February 7, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    Tom,

    I’m curious about why you seem to have less of a problem with a Sharia-based Islamist government in Egypt than you have with the Church, either officially or through its members, expressing its views on public issues such as SSM. If I’m mistaken, please clarify.

    Dude, you’ve got a weirdly skewed view if you actually think this, or this is probably just a personal attack because you’re pissed off at my points. I say this:

    Frankly, as Mormons, we have little to criticize others when it comes to the treatment of gays, but that’s neither here nor there in this matter

    and you get that I have less of a problem with Sharia-based Islamist governments than I have with the church expressing its views on any or all public issues, including SSM? I’m going to guess that no answer will satisfy your anger, thus I will leave you to your anger.

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  43. Dan on February 7, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    Mark,

    I think it is perfectly reasonable and proper for Islamic legal heritage to influence the laws and procedures of an Islamic majority state, especially when filtered through a representative democracy.

    Then rail against our government for constantly supporting dictatorships that hold down the ability for Arabs to govern themselves. We have yet to actually hold our government responsible for Mossadeq. Or the CIA putting the Baath party in power in Iraq. Not sure if you’ve read Legacy of Ashes, but that history of the CIA is amazing at how many places in the world we’ve messed up, particularly Muslim nations (including Indonesia).

    In regards to Turkey, I don’t have a major problem if the people of Turkey choose through their representative democracy to include more Sharia law in their system. If I were living in Turkey and was a citizen, I would vote against it, but in the end, it is the decision of the people. Here in America, if Americans choose to let religion dictate policy for the country, then so be it. However, personally I would vote against it. Always. I would not want Mormon theocracy to run America. I would not want Baptists to run America. But if Americans choose through a representative democracy, there is little I can do about it. I certainly won’t advocate “abolishing the state” or something ridiculous like that.

    The problem with sharia law per se, however, is that it amounts to turning over the legal system to a group of fundamentalist religious clerics, essentially turning any state that adopts it into a theocracy.

    Mark, is that not what Mormons want? Is that not our ultimate goal? What makes our goal better than any other?

    A comparable example would be if we found the most fundamentalist Protestant ministers we could find and appointed them and their successors to the Supreme Court in perpetuity, with the iron clad rule that all legal decisions had to find some basis not in the Constitution but rather in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

    huh, I think we know many Americans who would love to see this…

    The movement for sharia law is a minority even in Muslim countries, it just happens to be extremely well funded by Saudi Arabia in particular.

    oh, the irony, Mark. Who supports the Saudi royalty? We do, dude.

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  44. Dan on February 7, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    Firetag,

    I think your comment with regard to war with Israel within 5 years may be optimistic.

    You probably should rephrase this…

    “I think your comment with regard to Israel warring with Egypt within five years may be optimistic.”

    Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking Israel is some innocent party here…never the aggressor.

    Israel is lying very low.

    Indeed. Their actions these days is to take back one house at a time, no longer one nation at a time…

    But the Islamists, as they did when Carter reached out after the Shah’s fall, think they have the initiative and are likely to try to further drive wedges between the Arabs, the Muslim Africans, the secular Persians, and the West.

    huh, where do you see this? (and no, no Weekly Standard, no Jerusalem Post, none of those neo-con sites please). At least in regards to Muslim Brotherhood, there is no indication they have much power or say in the current revolution. Iran certainly does not have much influence right now. Or are you just parading the usual fearmongering?

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  45. Mark D. on February 7, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    Dan, I think you are missing a critical distinction here. There is a difference between enacting a traditional moral standard into law as part of a secular legal system and turning the legal system itself over to religious clerics. Sharia is the latter.

    Mark, is that not what Mormons want? Is that not our ultimate goal? What makes our goal better than any other?

    No, it isn’t. Or rather, there is considerable confusion on that point. The idea that the government should be run on religious grounds is generally known as dominionism. Theocracy is a comparable term. But Mormons are not dominionists, and never really have been.

    We say the Constitution is inspired for a reason. Constitutional government is radically incompatible with a theocracy of any kind. Joseph Smith recognized this and that is why he proposed a Council of Fifty, which would include members who were not of our faith. Brigham Young recognized this as well, and taught that constitutional government would prevail in the Millennium.

    His view was that during the Millennium Jesus Christ will rule as something like a constitutional monarch, not the head of a theocracy by any means. There have been others who have advocated the other view (it seems more common in the mid-to-late twentieth century, where some commentators tend to equate the church with an ideal government), but they are out of step with LDS tradition.

    The sole purpose of a political government is to hold a monopoly on the exercise of force. The church is the opposite kind of institution, i.e. a persuasive rather than a coercive one, and the recognition of this fact arguably is the greatest achievement of Western civilization. Islamism will cease to be a threat to life and liberty everywhere the moment its advocates understand and internalize the same principle.

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  46. Mark D. on February 7, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Also, Dan, you shouldn’t assume that someone who disagrees with you supports everything else you disagree with. I am not the living incarnation of “them”.

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  47. Dan on February 7, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Mark,

    Trust me you don’t have to convince me of the betterness of our system of government. All I am saying is that Sharia is not the boogeyman certain Christianists pretend it is. That certain countries of this world want to enact it doesn’t mean the end of the world. And furthermore, when we in the West denounce their use of Sharia, it only gives them fuel to further into its use. I’m sure you know of the old adage of how to get rid of nightmares: confront the terror by turning it into what it really is and you defuse its power over you. Americans are waaaaay too scared of Sharia.

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  48. Dan on February 7, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Mark,

    Also, Dan, you shouldn’t assume that someone who disagrees with you supports everything else you disagree with. I am not the living incarnation of “them”.

    I’m sorry if that came across. I certainly don’t believe that of you. But then again, I can’t get you Marks down. :) It’s hard to remember which Mark believes what. So my apologies. :)

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  49. Non-Arab Arab on February 7, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    Just came across this strange post and even stranger comments section. Hopping a plane or
    I’d type something out long enough to bore you all to tears as I’ve been nothing but living and breathing the uprising (and the Tunisian one before it) almost 24/7 for two weeks now in English and Arabic. All I’ll say for now is that the post and all the comments feel like they’re happening on another planet, not even remotely relevant to facts in the ground. I strongly suggest y’all call your cable or satellite TV provider and tell them you need Al-Jazeera English. US and Israeli and Iranian news sources are useless to educate anyone about what’s going on.

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  50. Bored in Vernal on February 8, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Non-Arab, I thought of you while writing this post. I figured you would have a different perspective. I DO hope you come back and share when you land whereever in the world you are going!

    It will not bore me.

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  51. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    Brief layover, can add just a few bullet points:
    -Uprising 100% worthy of support. Grassroots, non-partisan, non-sectarian, across all economic classes. Mubarak warned for years without regime there would be chaos and sectarian blowup, instead we see Egyptians united and cooperating and only regime inciting violence and division. In fact, his just deposed interior minister has just been arrested and charged with plotting the Alexandria new year’s church bombing. Their own government murdered Christians to try and keep people scared of Islamist and foreign boogeyman.
    -All parties, including Muslim Brotherhood, totally caught off guard by this and all acknowledging that “the youth”, previously unpoliticized and now risen up in their masses, are in charge.
    -Roots of protest lie not in MB or any party, but besides for horrendous overall governance in Egypt in the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebbok campaign. And of course the Tunisian example (also wholely secular and caught Islamist an-Nahda and all Tunisian opposition parties with their pants down).
    -No comparison to Iran 1979 exists. There is no Khomeini figure, there is no desire for one. When Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have opened their pie holes to say stupid things past days and weeks, response from protesters in Egyot and Tunisia has been resounding and clear “shut up”. People know what happened to Iran and don’ t want it anymore than they want the American-Israeli nightmare regime they’ve lived under. They want genuine parliamentary democracy and freedom.
    -Tunisia having to continue the struggle even post Ben Ali, but entire political culture changed and despite problems they are making steady progress towards genuine democracy. This is model Egyptians want to follow.
    -Not true there is no plan for transition. Protesters have repeatedly articulated very concrete set of demands for a transition. Removal of Mubarak. Dissolution of both fraudulently elected houses of parliament. Removal of Emergency Laws that regime has used to get around a judiciary that has tried over and over to assert itself but been thwarted by regime all the way back to Nasser’s days. Formation of transitional government representing all political, religious, and social sectors. Amendment of existing secular Constitution to allow all parties free and fair electoral participation (sometimes demand is for election of a body to write a new secular constitution afresh, bet secular nature always stressed even by Muslim Brotherhood). Free and fair parliamentary elections with independent judicial oversight. Free and fair presidential elections. Trial of corrupt officials and officials responsible for recent bloodshed. You hear these demands in more or less the same form repeated over and over. Giant banner hanging over Tahrir had list like this for all to see. Cairo University Law Faculty just came out openly in support of protesters with essentially same list.
    -Fears of Christian prosecution 100% at odds with realities on ground. Over and over examples of Muslims and Christians praying together, protecting each other, sermons by each religion stressing common teachings of Jesus and Muhammad, chanting together that Muslims and Christians all Egyptians, my own Coptic friends (who over the years have all expressed dismay and fear at discrimination) now saying how united everyone is and all want same thing to get rid of Mubarak and form a common shared secular citizenship. Basically Mubarak is playing westerners for fools on this one. Just as he tried to do for years to own people. Common Mideastern dictator tactic: deliberately i Browne sectarian tensions then lie and claim that t he dictator is the only thing saving people from sectarian warfare. It’s a lie, don’t believe it.
    -Can say similar about women. Women highly highly visible in protests. Of all social classes and all levels of religiosity. Everything from women in full head to toe coverings to to scarf hijab to jeans and uncovered. Muslims and Christians. All ages from grandmas to moms to teenage girls. On the front lines and barricades, carrying supplies, sharing information, etc. Just like the men. And in a city like Cairo where sexual harassment in public and crowds is normally disturbingly common, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the refrain repeated “not a single act of sexual harassment in Tahrir or anywhere amongst the protestors.” Contrast that to any time women come into contact with the regime’s hired criminal thugs they are being sexually assaulted and even raped frequently (for years now whenever the regime has broken up usually smaller demonstrations their thugs have engaged in sexual assault as a deliberate tactic, including ripping women’s clothes off in public). Again, the regime spreads the lie they are the savior of women, in reality they are the persecutor of women just like men and the protest movement is a model of inclusion of women at all levels.
    -Biv, I know you’re sincere, but you need to check your Saudi experience at the door. Saudi Arabia’s system is not just bizarre to westerners, it is bizarre in the Middle East, and most certainly bizarre and unwanted by Egyptiand.
    -The more One talks about the “Islamist threat” or similar in this, the less you can be certain they actually know. There is a broad consensus that all political factions including the Brotherhood should have a right to participate in a democratic Egypt. But there is an equally strong consensus for civic equality, no party ever again being allowed to dominate as the NDP has and certainly zero tolerance for clearly failed (and socially and politically inapplicable anyways) Iranian model. Most estimates are MB support probably on order of 10-20% of electorate. At demos, estimates put their numbers in that range, leftist parties bit less, but 3/4 or so previously unpoliticized massed. No party including MB has dominance here. Movement was started by the so-called “Facebook Youth”, grew to include all youth and then all classes of society (though regime propaganda and violence has since split people and protesters trying to regain momentum, and it looks like last night’s release of Google Exec and protest organizer Wa’il Ghonim and his subsequent super emotional interview on private Dream TV may have re-invigorated), and all political factions know and publicly acknowlede that as in Tunisia t he broad demands of the people as articulated above are in charge and not narrow sectarian or partisan demands. The MB when it finally did show up (they both refused to participate at first and were told by first-day organizers to stay away so government couldn’t tarnish it as an MB thing) was told to leave their religious and partisan slogans at home. They agreed to it and have stuck to their word, and have even been very active in protecting Christian worshippers and churches from attack (very noticeably in Alexandria where MB typically strong and Copt-Muslim relations strained in the past, but not since protests broke out, with even Salafis helping protect Christians).

    Ok, another flight to catch shortly and fingers tired on the iPad. Told you I’d give an earful, so much for a few bullet points!

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  52. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    excellent points, Non-Arab Arab.

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  53. FireTag on February 8, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    I’d be more impressed if I didn’t remember the hopey-changy stage from a lot of other revolutions. The bad guys like the pawns to go first when they are caught unaware, as NAA asserts, so the pawns are the ones that take the casualties, and the pawns are the ones the population turns on when things don’t get better. How has the overthrow of the military regime in Pakistan been working out for the people of Pakistan?

    “The rebellion is just” and “the outcome may be a disaster for the rebels” are not mutually exclusive statements. Queen Boadicea had legitimate grievances and all the popular support imaginable. Even won some pitched battles and sacked Roman cities. But the Empire had patience, wealth, and better strategic capabilities, even when caught out of position by the initial rebellion.

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  54. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Firetag, I don’t have time now to do a line by line comparison of Egypt and utterly different Pakistan. Just realize speaking in broad generalities and failing understand detailed dynamics is the root cause of the frankly ridiculous arguments the US media is full of these days. Yes it will be messy as it remains in Tunisia, but Egyptians are not so stupid and ignorant of history as Americans are making them out to be, while their current and historical circumstances are almost nothing like still-feudal sectarian Pakistan or 1979 Iran. I repeat, the less one knows about Egypt, the more one raises these false fears and comparisons. Though one thing is true: virtually all Egyptians of all political, religious, and social stripes hate Apartheid Israe as all decent people should bel. They are however also acutely aware of strategic realities and a democratic Egyptian government is likely in my view to hew at least for the medium term to a policy of keeping the lousy Camp David accords but refusing to be complicit in the criminal siege of Gaza and finding ways to support the Palestinian cause that are going to make Tel Aviv and Washington sweat. I for one will greatly enjoy watching all those racists in squirm just as I enjoyed watching the racists of Apartheid South Africa squirm in their state’s dying days. Democracy for the Arabs is fascist Israel’s greatest fear, something many Israeli journalists and politicians from Ehud Olmert to Moshe Arens o Tzipi Livni and many others of their war criminals have been quite open about. But Egyptians and Tunisians and other Arabs are sick of their dictators and Washington being willing to defend Apartheid Israel to the last Arab and are taking their freedom into their own hands.

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  55. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    well said once again Non-Arab Arab.

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  56. FireTag on February 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    NAA:

    Your attitudes toward Israel are well-known to readers of this blog and its predecessor; I need not reply to your charges of racism in kind and will not.

    “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

    I’m mot reassured by your notion that THIS TIME it will be different, and that the new Egypt, at least in the MEDIUM term, will not go back to the Egypt of 1948-1973 that will try to eliminate Israel as a majority Jewish state.

    If all decent people should hate Israel, there’s not a lot of optimism for anything except a great war in the LONG term. Of course, I don’t hate either Palestinians or Jews, so I guess I’m not a decent person.

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  57. Thomas on February 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Though one thing is true: virtually all Egyptians of all political, religious, and social stripes hate Apartheid Israe as all decent people should be.

    I wonder if I would rather be a non-Jew in “apartheid” Israel, or a non-Muslim — a Copt, say — in decent apartheid-hating Egypt.

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  58. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Thomas,

    I’d take Egypt over Israel.

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  59. FireTag on February 8, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Dan:

    I’d like to save both Egypt and Israel.

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  60. Will on February 8, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    BIV:

    This conflict goes back to the blessing of Jacob and Esau. The descendants of Esau have always been, and will always be at conflict—“by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother”. Has this not been a prophetic statement? It seems they are always at conflict. The recent uprising in Egypt does, however, beg the question is the latter part of that scripture coming to pass “and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

    I believe God will look after Egypt as they looked out for his Son when the wicked Herod (a descendant of Esau) tried to Kill our Lord.

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  61. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    BiV, I deeply believe this is *not* an ancient conflict that goes back to Esau, Jacob, Isaac, Ishmael or whatever. That is a horrible misreading of the situation, and a extremely harmful one as it feeds narratives of sectarianism which then feed violence. These are modern conflicts and struggles. For centuries – no, millenia – no one in the Middle East would ever have thought of Jewish-Muslims conflicts in those kinds of religious terms. It was only the advent of Zionism that did that. Muslim-Christian relations have an even more complex history that besides for the history of the rise of Islam, the Crusades, the colonial era, etc. also needs to be viewed through a prism of the Catholic-Orthodox and countless other Christian schisms both between eastern and western Christianity and within western Christianity, and the interaction of the various churches with various domestic and foreign powers. But even there, one sees the fundamentally modern political dynamics that are the real core. Take for example the Copts in Egypt who by all accounts from the ground and my own anecdotal connections virtually all in favor of removing the regime (at least it appears in proportions equal to the broader Egyptian populace). And yet there you have Pope Shenouda backing Mubarak to the hilt! Seeing this through a religious prism won’t explain what’s going on there. However, when you step back and realize that the Mubarak regime like many Middle Eastern dictatorships has essentially taken over the official religious establishments of majority and minority faiths (the Mufti of al-Azhar — theoretically the most senior Muslim cleric in Egypt and head of one of the most prestigious religious institutions not just in Egypt but the entire Muslim world — has also backed Mubarak 100%), then you realize the politics that are at play. The state wants to control religious institutions (for example, all Friday sermons in mosques in Egypt are determined or vetted by the state and the preachers appointed and paid by the state, similar in Syria), so that it can both control religion as a potential venue of popular complaints and so that it can ensure that religious officialdom (again, Muslim and Christian) is beholden to the regime, regardless of what the people want. And yet despite it, the image of the crescent and the cross and Muslim and Christian worshipers taking turns protecting the others at prayers are one of the most abiding images of the revolution! Politics is the problem, not some millenia-old scriptural accounts.

    As a footnote, this control by the state of the religious establishment is a key part of the reason the church has never been able to get official recognition in Egypt. While our meetings are tolerated, the official Coptic church is extremely jealous of its privileged position and does everything possible to prevent new competition. That’s right, it’s not so much Muslims, but other Christian churches that prevent the church from operating normally in Egypt, because the state wants to keep the Coptic church dependent on it and in turn Coptic officialdom likes the power this gives them (personal status law issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance etcetera are delegated to the church to handle instead of civil courts in many Middle Eastern countries).

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  62. Thomas on February 8, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    NAA, I think you mean to address Will, not BiV, and I generally agree with your analysis.

    Except that, even as I agree that “politics is the problem,” I don’t believe you can separate Islam — a distinctly political religion — from the persistence of conflicts on Islam’s frontiers.

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  63. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Firetag,

    I’d like to save both Egypt and Israel.

    That wasn’t the question though, was it?

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  64. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Thomas: Oh, yeah, whoops. Sorry BiV!

    As for politics & religion & Islam. Yes you can separate them. Islam is no more political by nature than Christianity or Judaism. All of the above have had periods of extreme political-religious mingling and of almost total separation. Of course political Islamist theoreticians often push the line you say, but that is by no means an accepted consensus.

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  65. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    Thomas,

    I don’t believe you can separate Islam — a distinctly political religion — from the persistence of conflicts on Islam’s frontiers.

    Is there such a thing as a non-distinctly political religion? Certainly Mormonism IS a distinctly political religion. Why would we be upset with Islam being the same as us?

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  66. FireTag on February 8, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    Dan: Re 63.

    A simple “me, too” would have sufficed.

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  67. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Firetag,

    haha, I’m not sure what you mean by saved though. Who do they need saving from? Each other?

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  68. Thomas on February 8, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Islam is no more political by nature than Christianity or Judaism. All of the above have had periods of extreme political-religious mingling and of almost total separation.

    Is there anything in Islam equivalent to “My kingdom is not of this world” or “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?

    My impression is that Christianity was involved in politics despite its doctrine. Whereas in Islam, the merger of religious and secular power is more expressly mandated by the doctrine, and the instructions for ordering a political society more comprehensive.

    Certainly Mormonism IS a distinctly political religion. Why would we be upset with Islam being the same as us?

    Because many of “us” aren’t particularly happy with that aspect of “us.” (I have a distinct suspicion Brigham might have sent Porter Rockwell after me, back in the day.) That is to say, I’m glad Mormonism got the theocratic stuffing knocked out of it a long time ago.

    None of this is to say that Islam is inherently wicked, or inferior, or less capable, in the hands of wise men of good will, of becoming just as serviceable an instrument of enlightenment and true worship as any other religious operating system. I am speculating that maybe it’s a little less idiot-proof than the average framework.

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  69. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Thomas, arcane debates about doctrine aside (I can find you quotes from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam that both support and deny political-religious mingling), what I am saying is that looking to religion for the explanation is not going to provide answers or ways forward. Looking to socio-economic-political conditions however, can provide those answers. Religion may well get thrown into that mix as one socio-economic-political factor, especially if people believe it to be, but it is rarely if ever a true driving force except among the most extremist of elements who tend to buffet but not fundamentally drive society in most instances.

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  70. Jeff Spector on February 8, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    I knew it, It’s Israel’s fault

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  71. Dan on February 8, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Thomas,

    Is there anything in Islam equivalent to “My kingdom is not of this world” or “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?

    um, yes, his name is Jesus Christ. How easily Christians forget that Muslims do actually believe in Jesus Christ. Just not everything about him.

    My impression is that Christianity was involved in politics despite its doctrine.

    Was? Really? Past tense?

    I am speculating that maybe it’s a little less idiot-proof than the average framework.

    I tend to agree that leaderless Islam is prone to be abused, but then again, who speaks for Christianity? The Pope speaks for about one third of Christianity. Beyond him, does anyone come close to any of his power or influence? And should we really talk about the lack of idiot-proofing that goes on in the Catholic hierarchy? It’s funny how monolithic we see Islam, yet expect Muslims to look at Christianity and differentiate between the various sects with ease.

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  72. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    This video is worth a watch: http://www.arabist.net/blog/2011/2/8/jan25-the-nabil-shawkat-tour.html

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  73. Non-Arab Arab on February 8, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    BiV, regarding women at the protests, this is one good little snapshot that is representative of messages and images I’ve seen repeated many times past few weeks: http://bit.ly/hTYRCB

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  74. Non-Arab Arab on February 11, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Well, now that the revolution has succeeded (!) (though of course much hard work now ahead), thought I might give a couple links to reflect how many people in Egypt and the region feel about it (besides for the non-stop partying from the Atlantic to the Gulf tonight).

    Here’s a nice music video by a protester that reflects a lot of Egyptians’ feelings and it’s even conveniently subtitled in English and available in HD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgw_zfLLvh8&feature=player_embedded

    And here’s a piece by a British-Syrian writer which does a wonderful job of reflecting both how the revolution succeeded and how it reflects the new pan-Arab nationalism including on the issue of Palestine: http://qunfuz.com/2011/02/11/arab-earthquake/

    Now, back to the party :)

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  75. FireTag on March 17, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    The Security Council just voted 10-0-5 and passed a resolution authorizing a no-fly-zone AND any additional measures necessary to stop the assault on the Libyan rebels. Simultaneously, the French news service is reporting that the attack on Benghazi has already begun from the Loyalist army units that have NEVER been cleared from the city.

    This link explains the current military situation:

    http://debka.com/article/20772/

    It now appears we’re about to be in a third Middle East war without winning the first two, and may be entering too late to have any point to the fighting.

    Air/missile strikes on either the Libyan Navy or Tripoli before morning? The submarine and air assets to start those limited attacks are in place NOW.

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  76. FireTag on March 25, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Well, what a difference six weeks make in how the revolution succeeded.

    Here’s today’s New York Times story on what has happened to the democracy movement in Egypt:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/world/middleeast/25egypt.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast

    In an important part of the alignment between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood discussed in the link, Hamas has apparently now been given free rein to try to provoke another war with Israel. While we were wondering how we got into a war with Libya this past week and counting cruise missiles lobbed by the rescuers/colonial powers (pick one), Hamas was launching an approximately equal number of mortars, rockets, and SSMs into Israel cities.

    This goes with the decision by the Egyptians to allow Iranian warships to transit the Suez Canal for the first time in decades to drop off military cargo in Syria. The Syrians promptly repacked it in “civilian cargo” and shipped it, by way of a front company in Europe, back to Alexandria for passage back to Hamas through the now unenforced Gaza blockade. (Fortunately, the Israelis captured one of the ships, the Victoria, and displayed the contents; unfortunately, we all missed what was going on because of a Charlie Sheen siting.)

    Indeed, as we continue in this Alice in Wonderland spring, there are military reports

    http://debka.com/article/20795/

    that the Israelis and Saudis are now meeting in Moscow under the auspices of Vladamir Putin to develop a common approach to protecting themselves in the face of the perceived unreliability of their attention-deficit-disorder-suffering American ally.

    It begins to look more and more possible that the Tunisian vendor who burned himself to death was really an Austrian Archduke.

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