This development must be taken in the context of today’s report describing the Obama administration’s contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been dutifully playing up the importance of democracy and downplaying its Islamic agenda. Both democracy and the appearance of moderation are means to an end.
The lesson multiple presidents failed to learn in Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq is now set to reappear in Tunisia and Egypt: a democracy is only as good as the values that inform its participants.
As was the case with prior failures of elected governments to uphold and protect human rights, pundits and politicians are placing considerable hope in the “secular” institutions of Egyptian society to somehow protect against the nastier tenets of Sharia. And of course, all the false promises retailed in the mainstream media about Islam’s tolerance and moderation help inflate expectations for Egypt’s future, even under the influence of “Islamists.”
But one cannot invoke as protection the values or institutions that Sharia will attack and destroy once its proponents are strong enough to go on the offensive, especially not when recalling how the veneer of a modern, secular society collapsed in Iraq.
Famous last words for a free society (or even one less beset by Sharia than it could be): “oh, that can’t happen here.”
“Obama says Egypt’s transition ‘must begin now’,” from CNN, February 1:
Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama warned Tuesday of “difficult days ahead” for Egypt and said the transition following President Hosni Mubarak’s earlier announcement that he won’t run for re-election in September must begin immediately.
In a brief statement to reporters at the White House, Obama pledged continuing U.S. support for both a longtime ally and the aspirations of protesting Egyptians, whose eight days of growing demonstrations led to Mubarak’s dramatic announcement on state television.
“We’ve borne witness to the beginning of new chapter in the history of a great country and a long-time partner of the United States,” Obama said of the Mubarak statement less than three hours earlier.
Noting that he and Mubarak had just spoken by phone, Obama said Mubarak “recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place.” Repeating earlier calls for an orderly transition in Egypt from Mubarak’s nearly three decades of repressive rule to a fully representative democracy, Obama said the transition “must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.”
“Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties,” Obama said.”It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”…