In a review of Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution by John R. Bradley in the Fall 2010 edition of Middle East Quarterly, Raymond Ibrahim identifies a chief error that analysts of the Middle East and Islam make all too often: assuming that people in Muslim countries want what Westerners want. Human nature, of course, is everywhere the same; but that doesn’t mean that all people everywhere understand “freedom” or “peace” or “justice” in the same way.
But Sharia inculcates a radically different value system from the one generally taught in the West. Had that been understood on September 11, 2001, thousands of lives and billions of dollars would have been spared. But it is still not understood today.
[…] While the Mubarak regime is responsible for many of Egypt’s woes, blaming all of the nation’s problems on it is misleading. By minimizing the Islamization of society and the influence of the Brotherhood, which the author claims “has made only limited inroads into the mainstream” since Egypt’s Muslims are “intolerant of extremist Sunni doctrine,” Bradley moves from fact-based evidence to conjecture and, perhaps, wishful thinking.
Indeed, this is the book’s chief problem. Bradley is convinced that, given a chance, through the elimination of Mubarak, Egyptians would create a liberal, egalitarian, and gender-neutral society. This tendency to project things that are important to the author (though often not to Egyptians) is highlighted by his fixation on homosexuality in Egypt. The topic permeates the entire book, including a rather out-of-place section recounting the in-and-outs of Western gay tourism in Luxor….