Egypt, the recipient of billions of U.S. aid dollars, is a case in point. Faced with a virulent Islamist threat from the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo’s dictatorial rulers, from Sadat to Mubarak, sought to appease the Islamists by allowing them to play an ever-greater role in society. First Sadat promoted sharia as one of the sources of law and later proclaimed it the sole source of Egyptian legislation, providing the Islamists with a powerful weapon against their secular opponents. Mubarak then appointed the mullahs of Al-Azhar as the sole arbiters of what books should be published in or imported into Egypt. Predictably, anything that does not meet their medieval criteria is being censored, while books that discuss how many angels could be recruited for a war against Israel (120 million) are encouraged.
This is the same organization that, in President Obama’s words, “paved the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.” The inevitable result of such policies is evident in the mufti of Egypt’s open support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and in his Taliban-like fatwa that sculpture and sculptors are against Islam.
The inescapable reality is that the policies that have served the venal and corrupt Arab regimes well (by keeping their oppressed populations poor, uneducated, and ignorant) have served the violent religious obscurantism of the Islamists even better. Consider that not a single Western government had the courage to criticize the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 1990 when all 45 of its members voted for the “Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam,” which, de facto and de jure, denied most internationally recognized human rights to Muslims by making all rights and freedoms in Muslim countries subject to sharia as their “sole source.” To discuss our relations with the Muslim world in the abstract, as the Obama administration is now doing, without even mentioning the vast gulf separating most Muslim regimes from the rest of the world when it comes to the most basic aspects of modern civilization is disingenuous as well as futile.
The Bush administration was justifiably taken to task for refusing to recognize or do anything about the nefarious role played by state sponsors of extremism such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the spread of radical Islam. President Obama has already gone beyond that, with a policy of pandering and appeasement. History teaches us that tolerating the intolerant and appeasing the unappeasable results in more conflict and bloodshed.
– Alex Alexiev is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.