February 3, 2011


Egypt and Islamophobia (Paul R. Pillar, February 2, 2011, National Interest)

The Brotherhood is in some ways the best organized opposition group in Egypt. There is good reason to expect it to play a significant role in a future political order.

Before the alarmism over Islamism gets us searching for ways to head off that eventuality, we need to reflect on a couple of basic facts. One is that in Egypt, as in many other Muslim countries and especially Arab countries, political Islam represents a significant current of opinion in present-day politics and society. It is here to stay. It will find new outlets for expression if it is denied other outlets. The Brotherhood's belief that “Islam is the solution” for political and social problems is certainly foreign to our concept of separation of church and state, although given the compromises of that separation in practice in our own nation the actual difference is probably less than it first appears. Political Islam as embodied in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is a major, intrinsic part of Egyptian politics, not a thing apart from those politics.

The second fact is that given the inevitable presence of political Islam in Egyptian politics and the necessary organizational manifestation of that strain of opinion, the Muslim Brotherhood is about as benign a manifestation as we probably can hope to find in Egypt. The organization became the most adept opposition practitioner of parliamentary politics, despite the handicaps under which it has operated. It shows a strong pragmatic streak in other respects. Most important, its renunciation of violence is clear and long-standing. If this is not enough to make it a legitimate representative of a significant strain of opinion in Egyptian politics, then its adherents are entitled to ask what, if anything, would ever make it so. If the answer is that nothing would make it so and that the organization is to be distrusted simply because it is Islamist, this is a posture that is indistinguishable from simple Islamophobia.

As the United States further develops its posture toward an emerging new order in Egypt, we ought to contemplate one more fact about the Muslim Brotherhood—one pertaining to the forms it has taken in different countries. Where it has been given the opportunity to compete peacefully as one of several players in the political arena—as in Jordan and, in limited ways, in Egypt—it has done exactly that. Where that opportunity has been denied it, as it has been in Palestine, where the local Brotherhood is known as Hamas—and was denied the opportunity even after it won an election—it has resorted to whatever other means are available to it, including violence.

Obama National Prayer Breakfast Speech Addresses Faith (JULIE PACE, 02/ 3/11, Huffington Post)
President Barack Obama said Thursday that his faith has deepened during his two years in the White House, and he urged lawmakers to rely on their own faith to build a spirit of civility in Washington following the shooting of a congresswoman.

Speaking at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Obama said that at a time of bitter partisanship, lawmakers must find a way to be open to the ideas of others, while staying true to their core principles.

"I pray that God will show me and all of us the limits of our understanding and open our ears and our hearts to our brothers and sisters with different points of view, that such reminders of our shared hopes and our shared dreams and our shared limitations as children of God will reveal a way forward that we can travel together," he said.

Mind, Democrats are the secular party and Mr. Obama reputed to be the closest we've ever come to a Marxist Muslim in the White House.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 3, 2011 4:11 PM
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