Now that the Muslim Brotherhood has begun talks with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei to form a national unity government after the fall of Mubarak, which apparently all concerned expect to be imminent, the character of the Egyptian revolution has become clearer. Whether or not the majority of demonstrators were pro-Sharia, the Brotherhood was the sole entity in Egypt capable of constituting an organized and energized vanguard that could put an ideological cast on the rapidly unfolding revolt. And so Egypt now stands on the brink of installing in power a group that wants to see it become an Islamic state.
Many Western analysts have welcomed the demonstrations currently roiling Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East as an outpouring of democratic sentiment against repressive authoritarian rulers – and that they are. But it is no coincidence that Islamic supremacist pro-Sharia leaders and groups are also applauding these demonstrations. They know that if the people truly rule in the Middle East, so will Islamic law (Sharia). For belying the widespread assumption in the West that Islamic supremacists, whether violent or stealthy, represent only a tiny minority of extremists among Muslims, in reality the imperative for Islamic rule (which is also the ultimate goal of jihad terror attacks) enjoys broad popular support among Muslims.
It thus came as no surprise that when Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled from power and fled to Saudi Arabia, Rached Ghannouchi, the London-based leader of the banned Tunisian pro-Sharia party, the Tunisian Renaissance Party (Hizb al-Nahdah), quickly dubbed the Tunisian uprising an “intifada,” claimed it as a victory for Islam, and returned to the country. In Egypt, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who has the backing of the pro-Sharia Muslim Brotherhood, adopted the same language, warning that “if the regime does not step down, the people’s Intifada will continue.”
The word intifada in Arabic signifies resistance to oppression, but in this case the oppression that Ghannouchi and others, possibly including ElBaradei, had in mind was clearly that of secular rule and the failure of Ben Ali, Mubarak and other Arab rulers to implement Islamic law fully. The internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, also applauded the demonstrations; a website linked to him last week posted a chapter of his 2009 book Laws of Jihad, including this passage: “The laws of Islam instruct us to… oppose the tyrant… All types of oppression [including] of subjects and peoples by their rulers — are reprehensible and forbidden, and jihad must be waged against them.”
In Iran, the Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi claimed that the Iranian Islamic Revolution was the model for the new demonstrations: “Today, as a result of the gifts of the Islamic revolution in Iran, freedom-loving Islamic peoples such as the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt and nearby Arab countries are standing up to their oppressive governments.” He praised the Egyptian demonstrators, asserting that what they were doing was “based on the principles” of revolution that installed the Islamic regime in Tehran in 1979.
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