JUST WHAT WE FEARED – AT 8:23 A.M. ET: Remember Egypt? There was a revolution there some weeks back, and we were assured by the fashion plates of the Western press that a new, secular Egypt would emerge. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times practically anointed the democracy demonstrators as the greatest humans ever to have lived. It reminded me of the "journalists" during the Vietnam war who assured us that the North Vietnamese really weren't Communists, but nationalists. A slight error.
Now some of our worst concerns about the "new" Egypt may be realized, at least in part. We will, of course, be called "bigots" and "Islamophobes" for pointing this out, but it does come, to its credit, from that fashionably liberal New York Times:
CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.
I think they call this hijacking a revolution.
It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.
“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”
...in these early stages, there is growing evidence of the Brotherhood’s rise and the overpowering force of Islam.
When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.
A recent referendum, approved overwhelmingly by the Egyptian voters, speeds up the election process. Observers see this as strongly favoring the Brotherhood, the best organized group in Egypt. A longer process would have allowed more time for more secular forces to organize.
I fear that we will have in Egypt what we've seen so often in the Arab world – one person, one vote, one time. The early signs are not good, and we may wind up wishing for the return of Hosni Mubarak.
March 25, 2011