Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the Muslim Brotherhood’s resurgence in Egypt, and its wider implications:
The Muslim Brotherhood seeks its Total Answer in Islam. The problems it addresses may be those that all countries experience — a ruthless, corrupt, completely worthless regime. In a non-Muslim country, the answer would be Clean Government, and Civil Service Examinations, and an Anti-Corruption Squad and Throw the Rascals Out. In a Muslim country, where the prism of Islam is ready, the Answer of Islam is ready, the discontent with the government (Mubarak, the Al-Saud, this or that despot or petty ruler) will always and everywhere be expressed in Islamic terms, with Islam as the Solution. That would be fine for Infidels if Islam, more Islam, did not mean also something else, and what it means is this: more hatred of the Infidels, unmitigated by worldliness and corruption. And it would be fine if the Infidel world is ready to take upon itself indefinitely the entire burden of ensuring that everywhere Good Government and an Honest and Efficient Civil Service will reign throughout the Muslim lands, and of supplying aid to any Muslims who might feel that they are poor and should not be. And many of them are poor, but the reasons are in the despotism that Islam encourages, and the habit of mental submission that Islam encourages, and the habit of inshallah-fatalism that Islam encourages.
And more Islam always means more hatred of Infidels, so that any protest is channeled through Islam — and in a Muslim country it will always end up being channeled through Islam for all but a small enlightened or quasi-enlightened group (no more than 2-3% of the population). Yet since Islam itself is the main reason for their troubles, for their unresponsive political system, and for the rumors, nonsense, and lies that come so easily to Muslim societies that have never encouraged and cannot encourage skepticism as a way of mental life but rather foster credulity at every step, things will never get better until Islam itself is weakened, constrained, divided, demoralized, seen not as The Answer but, as Ataturk and Bourguiba did, as The Problem.
The Muslim Brotherhood may have won nearly 20% of the seats in Parliament. But in Egypt, the Muslim vote essentially went 100% for Islam. Mubarak is Muslim, leader of a corrupt, meretricious, vicious regime, but a regime of Muslims, sharing Muslim attitudes that shape their worldview, and that are scarcely hidden, save for the few hours a week that are spent meeting with Western dignitaries, or for the odd state visit (that waiting Blair House, or that suite at The Mayflower or at the Hotel Raphael! How eagerly these tin-pot potentates, propped up with Western money, look for an excuse to travel abroad). Those attitudes are well-reflected, are on display, in the viciousness of the official press, which is imbued with anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-Copt, anti-Jewish, anti-Infidel sentiments and the usual Muslim hysteria and hysterical view of the universe.
At the very least, all American aid to Egypt– which by now amounts to $60 billion — should end. The Egyptians spent $7.5 billion on military purchases in 2004, right after China and India on the list of major buyers, yet for some reason it is believed by some perfectly reasonable to continue supplying this irredeemably corrupt, with an oily exterior, regime, threatened by no one, yet itself a potential threat both to Israel and to Ethiopia (the looming headwaters-of-the-Nile dispute), with $2 billion a year in American aid. Egypt is a world center of anti-Americanism (possibly the most anti-American country, along with Saudi Arabia, in the world) and of antisemitism, that has failed to fulfill a single one of its obligations under the Camp David Accords. The paradox holds: the less aid, whether financial, military, or diplomatic, received by a corrupt regime from the U.S., the more likely that the people in that country will have a more favorable opinion of the United States. In the Middle East, the most pro-American population is that of Iran, where for 25 years there has been no American aid, and instead the Iranian government has done everything it can to whip up those it rules against the United States. But since American hostility to the Iranian regime is clear, the fury with the rulers cannot be deflected, as it is in Egypt, to the distant Infidels in the United States.
What of reformers in Egypt? A good deal is made of certain “reformers” and advocates for “civil society” in the Arab countries. But if one examines them closely, those “reformers” often turn out to disappoint. For they are supporters, in the end, of the Muslim agenda, perhaps muted, perhaps less aggressive or less fervent, but still supporters. One example is Egypt’s Saad Eddin Ibrahim. He owes his freedom — that is, he owes the Mubarak government’s pressure to have his sentence overturned, and for him to be absolved — to the fact that, at Bernard Lewis’ urging, Egypt was threatened with a cut of $30 million dollars out of its (preposterous and maddening) $2 billion in annual American aid. It worked, of course — if we ever bother to put pressure on Egypt, it will always work (we so seldom bother — we’ll do it to spring a “civil society” quasi-reformer, with a good press, but not to force them to crack down on the antisemitism and anti-Americanism of which the Egyptian press and television are now world centers).
And what about sad-eyed dhimmified scared Boutros Boutros Ghali? Despite being, or having been, the U.N.’s Secretary-General, he always was, and always will be, a court Copt, kept around because he is useful (and his French is so much better than that of the Muslims in Egypt’s Foreign Ministry) in disproving that Egypt really does persecute the Copts. Boutros Boutros Ghali must always keep in mind the assassination of his great-grandfather and namesake — and that was long ago, when Egypt was under the Cromer good-government-and-efficient-civil-service administration, and with many Europeans and Levantines in both Alexandria and Cairo, was a far more civilized and tolerant and altogether more interesting place than it is today. But since then the Egyptian government has engaged first in clearing out the Greeks, the Jews, the Italians, the Armenians of Alexandria (no Durrellian exotica left about the place where Cavafy and Ungaretti were both born). They have shut down the lycees and the old French and English-language gazettes, and eliminated that whole world of fez-wearing hubble-bubble aficionados, with their carriages and their front-running syces, people who might have been at home at some Cairene equivalent of the Blue Parrot along with Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The Egyptians were left only with the Copts to dilute Islam, Arab Islam. And these Copts are the very people whose lives are steadily being made more intolerable. Sadat put Pope Shenouda under house arrest. Under the thuggish Mubarak, there have been many cases of torture, and murder — by Muslim neighbors, by Egyptian police, by the army. Not a word from the U.N., not a word from the World Council of Churches, the Vatican (who cares about those pesky monophysites!), not a word from anyone.
But why be surprised? The failure to read Mubarak the riot act on this, as on his media’s treatment of Israel, and on Egypt’s failure to live up to a single one of its solemn commitments under the Camp David Accords, is simply par for the appeasement course — you know, the course we are all staying by failing to analyze, to recognize, to articulate, the permanent menace of Islam.
Who cares if the Copts are the original Egyptians and the Muslim Arabs the invaders? The Jews could say that, and the Christian Maronites, and even the non-Arab Kurds, and the Berbers of the Kabyle as well. But no — we are endlessly told that this is the “Arab world.” No one else exists, really. No one else can. No one else, anywhere in that Arab world.