Discussions in the mainstream media about demands for democracy in Egypt have tended to treat such goals as mutually exclusive. But as we have seen in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, democracy and representative governments do not guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties.
Once again, a democracy is only as good as the values that inform its participants.
Case in point: Yesterday on Fox News, Zuhdi Jasser claimed that “The Egyptian people are no different from us as Americans.” One could go on all day about that, citing the prevalence of female genital mutilation in Egypt among other things, but this poll amply proves that a desire for democracy does not guarantee a desire for human rights by standards Westerners would even recognize.
Projecting a Western understanding of concepts like liberty, justice, and good government onto such terms as they are employed by those in favor of Sharia law (not to mention the Muslim Brotherhood) only sets up the naÃ¯ve for profound disappointments and awful surprises.
As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And joyfully welcoming another regime that pledges fidelity (and therefore ties its legitimacy) to Islamic law certainly fits that definition. “Poll shows Egyptians favour democracy and stoning for adultery,” from Reuters, February 3 (thanks to Ron):
Egyptians reject radical Islamists, but want Islam to play a large role in politics and think democracy is the best political system, according to poll data collected in Muslim countries last year. The sample group of 1,000 was surveyed in face-to-face interviews in April and May of last year for the U.S.-based Pew Research Center. These results give an idea of Egyptian public opinion before the current protests there broke out.
Look at the results below for adultery, apostasy, and theft. But “Egyptians reject radical Islamists.” So… are these the “moderates?”
59%: Say democracy is preferable to any other form of government.
22%: Say a non-democratic system can be preferable in certain circumstances
Islam in politics
95%: Say it’s good that Islam plays a large role in politics
85%: Say Islam’s influence on politics is good
48%: Say Islam currently play a large role in Egyptian politics
80%: Think suicide bombings are never or rarely justified.
20%: Think suicide bombings are sometimes or often justified
70%: Are concerned or very concerned about Islamist extremism in the world
61%: Are concerned or very concerned about Islamist extremism in the Egypt
Traditional Muslim practices
54%: Believe men and women should be segregated in the workplace
82%: Believe adulterers should be stoned
84%: Believe apostates from Islam should face the death penalty
77%: Believe thieves should be flogged or have their hands cut off
Qur’an 5:38 prescribes amputation.