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Egypt’s Predictable Unraveling
The Brothers are playing for keeps.

Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi

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Andrew C. McCarthy

Now, maybe you doubt this. Maybe you think “Islamic democracy” enthusiasts like Hillary Clinton, edified by her trusty aide Huma Abedin, know more about sharia than Sheikh Qaradawi does. But let’s just say I doubt it — and I am quite certain that the ummah would laugh, and then probably riot, at such a suggestion.

The Brothers really do believe what they say. They especially believe what Qaradawi says.

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Obama officials tirelessly portray the Brotherhood as a normal, “largely secular” organization. Other Western progressives nod their heads in unison. Even with Egypt aflame over Morsi’s aggressive constitution gambit — the fulfillment of his campaign promise of a constitution that would reflect “the sharia, then the sharia, and finally the sharia” — New York Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick assures Hugh Hewitt’s listeners that the Brotherhood is a “moderate, regular old political force” that “just want[s] to win elections.” The Brothers, you are to conclude, are just an Islamic analogue to Europe’s Christian Democrats.

This is worse than lunacy. It is the most irresponsible brand of willful blindness. Mr. Kirkpatrick, in fact, amplifies his see-no-sharia analysis with a whopper: You oughtn’t render harsh judgments about the Brothers’ intentions because, “you know, you don’t know what their ultimate vision of . . . the good life looks like.”

Actually, they could not have made themselves clearer on that subject. Perhaps you’ve heard: “Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Islam, in this ultimate vision, cannot tolerate secular democracy because sharia — the “Koran is our law” part of the equation — will not abide it.

Sharia, Qaradawi elaborates, is a “comprehensive system” of “legislation” derived directly from “Allah’s injunctions.” Our notion of secularism, in which sovereignty belongs to the people, is for Qaradawi a “denial of the divine guidance.”

Imposition of the divine guidance is the Brotherhood’s raison d’être. As explained after Mubarak’s fall by Khairat al-Shater, the Brothers’ strategic leader and Morsi’s patron, “to subjugate people to God on earth” — “to organize our life and the lives of the people on the basis of Islam” — is “our main and overall mission as Muslim Brothers.”

The draft constitution the Brothers are currently trying to force on Egyptians elucidates their idea of the “basis of Islam” to which people must be subjugated. The Hudson Institute’s Samuel Tadros expertly analyzed it this week on the Corner. The Brothers make the “principles of sharia” the cornerstone of law; squelch authentic moderate reformers by stipulating that “principles” are limited to the four established Sunni jurisprudential schools (which consider all questions to have been settled by the tenth century); and vest in the fundamentalist scholars of ancient al-Azhar University a dispositive role in interpreting sharia — similar to the mullahs of Shiite Iran.

There is more. The new constitution tellingly strikes the old constitution’s reference to “citizenship” — a term that implied equality between Muslims and non-Muslims — as the basis for Egypt’s political order. It empowers the Islamist state to “entrench . . . moral values” in society by enforcing the Islamist ideal of “family values.” It denies freedom of conscience by refusing many religious minorities the right to worship. Although Christianity is not outlawed, the finances of Christian churches are placed under government control — enabling the creation of a Communist-style national church, subject to Islamist domination. It denies freedom of expression by adopting sharia’s repressive blasphemy laws, under which any criticism of Islam is brutally punished. It deletes the former constitution’s express guarantee of equality for women “in the fields of political, social, cultural, and economic life.”

Phony “teachable moments” abound in the era of Obama moralizing, but this one is worth our attention: Egypt is the Brotherhood unleashed. This week’s despotic bloodletting is the natural, logical, entirely predictable end of the Brotherhood’s machinations — not just in Egypt but everyplace the Brothers operate. That includes the United States, where our government takes their counsel, invites them to shape our national-security policy, and gives them a veto over the content of materials used to train our law-enforcement, military, and intelligence agents.

It is long past time to realize that this is not a game. The Brothers are playing for keeps.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.



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