But will Ankara become a new Tehran, and if it does, whither Egypt? “Despite West’s paranoia, new regime will be closer to Ankara than Tehran,” by Patrick Smyth in the Irish Times, February 12 (thanks to Joshua):
WORLD VIEW: THERE’S A nice, ironic symmetry to the discomfort of the Iranian regime at the Egyptian contagion and the continuing ambivalence of western leaders to it because of fears it will be “hijacked” by Islamists.
The spectre of the Iranian revolution in 1979 haunts both: the fear of Islamism coming to power; and precisely that Islamism may also yet be hoist on its own petard, displaced by a similar uprising in Tehran.
Iranian opposition leaders are calling the mullahs’ bluff, testing their disingenuous enthusiasm for Egypt’s “Muslim” revolution, by challenging them to a allow a solidarity march on Monday.
President Hosni Mubarak has played the Islamist-threat card masterfully for years, as the US-allied regimes in Saudi, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel continued to do in recent days, urging Washington not to demand his departure.
But necessity is forcing a reappraisal of the real nature of this threat. Are Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and regional sister organisations really stalking horses for al-Qaeda? In truth the crude caricaturing of Islamism as a monolithic form of jihadism, incapable of coexisting with secular democracy, bent on exporting mayhem, reflects both a dangerous western paranoia and a real weakness of its intelligence….
By most estimates the MB enjoys support of only about 20 per cent, although electoral fraud by the regime makes the picture unclear.
And yet a Pew Research Center survey conducted in Egypt in Spring 2010 found that 85% of Egyptians had a positive view of Islam in politics. But of course the new regime will be secular. Or if it isn’t, Sharia isn’t all that bad, anyway. So what are a few stonings and amputations, and the muzzling of the freedom of speech? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?