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“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Arab Spring overflows into violence

It would appear that the Arab Spring has overflowed into violence between the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Egyptian President Morsi and those who are opposed to his unilateral declaration of power.

You have to feel both sorrow and compassion for the people of Egypt.  They are caught between the advocates of Islamic Sharia Law, and those who support a more secular and democratic political environment.  Over ninety percent of Egyptians are Muslims therefore Islam is rooted in their culture, and part of their DNA.  For most Egyptians, their religious and national identity is at best inseparable.

This is a difficult concept for those of us who live in the secular western world to grasp.  We understand national identity, to be a Kiwi or an Aussie for example, but we have little concept of what it means to have a religious identity, let alone have it trump all other calls for allegiance.  This is why Muslim immigrants into Europe and the UK have almost universally failed to integrate into their host culture.  They have no personal identity with their host nation, and only minimal allegiance to the nation they left behind.  Their identity is based in their religion, in Islam.

While there are clearly people who are prepared to protest in support of democracy in Egypt, they are in a minority, and they are trapped in a difficult situation.  Democratic rule has no basis in Islam, where only the rule of God through Sharia Law has any legitimacy.   If they oppose Sharia, they are seen to be opposing Islam, which makes them ‘apostate’ a crime that carries the death penalty under Sharia Law.  It would seem that Sharia is soon to be enshrined as the basis for Egypt’s constitution.  What else would you expect from a nation that is populated by 90% of Muslims?  In future, this will make protests for democracy in Egypt as popular with the authorities as a pig in a bar mitzvah.  They will be violently suppressed as treasonous and anti Islamic.  It matters very little if the present grouping of Judges go on strike.  They can be replaced at any time with new Judges who are sympathetic to the aspirations of the Muslim Brotherhood.

So how do western leaders like Obama and Cameron who supported the ‘Arab Spring’ feel now that the Islamists they helped bring to power have suspended the rule of law?  Does this come as a surprise to them, or is this an outcome they always anticipated?  If it is the former, it shows them to be the shallow and lightweight political leaders many of us have always considered them to be.  If it’s the latter, then should we not be asking why the leaders of the free world are promoting the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate?  Either way, it demonstrates why we in the west should not be supporting any Arab regime, or assisting any of their leaders to power.  We have no intuitive understanding of the Arab world-view, and have completely underestimated the power of Islam to trump all other political ideologies, including democracy in the region. 

It would appear that America still labors under the mistaken belief that money can buy them influence in the region.  They funnel between $1.0 and $2.0 Billion dollars annually into Egypt in the form of military assistance and other aid. 

What do they get in return?   Previously it was an enduring peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.  Now that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is in power, how long do they think this will last?  Hamas, the avowed enemy of Israel and the instigator of the most recent rocket attacks against that country is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.  They share the same goals and objectives.  What is America doing funding these people who are essentially enemies of Israel and the free world?

It’s somewhat ironic that America, the most indebted nation on the planet is busy siphoning off taxpayers funds and borrowings and transferring them to those nations who are ideologically committed to their destruction.  Just remind me how that makes sense again?  Ah, but this is politics, it doesn’t have to make sense does it.

Meanwhile, the people of Egypt, are by and large some of the poorest in the world, with the vast majority living on $2.00 per day.

It’s difficult to see how the transition to an Islamic state is going to advance the circumstances of the average Egyptian politically or economically.  Egypt since the Pharaoh’s has been an extractive economy with virtually all of the wealth being concentrated in the hands of the elite.  The ideology may change, but the power structures remain the same.  Freedom must be born in the heart of man before it is expressed politically and can be sustained in the public sphere.  Islam contains no theological catalyst for such freedoms.

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