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Islam vs. Dictatorship

Helena Cobban’s world affairs blog Just World News has a fascinating interview with Dr. Abdel Monem Abul-Futouh, a member of the Guidance Council of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

    You as Americans need to understand how good our dictatorial regimes are, at using all the issue about the the Islamic “threat” to get support from your government for what are really only tiny ruling cliques here.

He says the Islamic “threat” is an illusion.

    Islamic understandings make it haram to overcome others by force. But anyway, why do you speak of this fear of being overcome by us, when it is you who have overcome our countries. You’re occupying our countries and controlling so many aspects of our lives here! So it is foolish for you to speak of a fear of being overcome by us.

He has made a few trips to the U.S., and finds Americans “warm and welcoming,” in Helena’s words.

    There are many areas of agreement between us and Americans. We ask, what is the difference between mainstream Islam and American democracy?

He even calls for a “secular, democratic state” uniting Jews and Palestinians. I’ve been surprised before at how many Arabs are willing to support a one-state solution, with Palestinians sharing a state with Israel’s Jews—”like South Africa,” as Dr. Abul-Futouh put it—a state based on integration, rule of law, and respect for minorities. One thing is clear, this doesn’t fit the stereotype of political Islam we get from the Western media.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest opposition group, repressive laws prevent them from forming a political party, obliging them to operate in semi-clandestinity. If Egypt were to have free elections today, the Muslim Brotherhood would be likely to win the presidency and dominate the new legislature. Instead, the U.S. supports the 25-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak, which despite international protests, just sentenced 22-year-old blogger Kareem Amer to four years in prison for his writings critical of Al-Azhar Islamic university, where he was a student. Helena Cobban was in Egypt at the time, and her post on the subject has many interesting links.


Comment from Emran
Time: March 10, 2008, 04:54

The fact of matter is that the Christians, the Jews and the Hindus have been living under the mercy of the Muslims. You people, you read history and see what we muslims have done for the christians for the jews for the hindus but all the way through, they have betrayed us. Perhaps we didn’t follow the Quran where Allah is warning us against the unbelievers – the materialistc people. Allah is telling us to be in peace with the unbelievers but don’t trust them. Be prepared for any confrontation from them. We went into a deep sleep when time came that these people came over us. Now there’s no room for peace with them (Not for war either). We as muslims want to be away from the filth. Right now we can do nothing but request – leave us alone.

Comment from eatbees
Time: March 10, 2008, 05:44

@Emran — Leave the historical burdens aside, because there’s nothing to be done about that now. The Japanese and Mexicans are contaminated by the West too. Are you saying that our cultures have nothing to learn from each other? How exactly can people keep themselves separate in today’s world? Do you think that Muslims should build their own airplanes and internet, and withdraw from the world economy? How would that work? How long would it last? The Amish of Pennsylvania refuse to use electricity or drive cars; they refuse to fight wars or carry a passport, all for religious reasons; but their children grow up and leave. I’ve asked myself how to say “leave me alone” to the world; see my post “In or Out.” I’ve concluded that it isn’t possible or desirable. I want to learn from others, and maybe return the favor. So don’t shut me out, and I won’t shut you out, hard as that may sometimes be.

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