Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday’s (Other) Election Results

CAIRO (AP) – Final results on Saturday showed that Islamist parties won nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament in Egypt's first elections since the ouster of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, according to election officials and political groups.

The Islamist domination of Egypt's parliament has worried liberals and even some conservatives about the religious tone of the new legislature, which will be tasked with forming a committee to write a new constitution. Overseeing the process will be the country's Mubarak-era military generals, who are still in charge.

A coalition led by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood won 47 percent, or 235 seats in the 498-seat parliament. The ultraconservative Al-Nour Party was second with 25 percent, or 125 seats.

The Salifi Al-Nour, which was the biggest surprise of the vote, wants to impose strict Islamic law in Egypt, while the more moderate Brotherhood, the country's best-known and organized party, has said publicly that it does not seek to force its views about an appropriate Islamic lifestyle on Egyptians. (“Egypt's Islamists secure 75% of parliament”).

As noted here recently, there’s no reason to take at face value the Brotherhood’s promises that Egypt’s liberty-loving Arab Springers won’t soon be groaning under government-enforced Sharia. Brotherhood supreme leader Dr. Muhammad Badi was commenting on the Brothers’ progress in Egypt only three weeks back:

When the Brotherhood started its advocacy [da'wa], it tried to awaken the nation from its slumber and stagnation, to guide it back to its position and vocation. In his message at the sixth caucus, the Imam [Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna] defined two goals for the Brotherhood: a short term goal, the fruits of which are seen as soon as a person becomes a member of the Brotherhood; and a long term goal that requires utilizing events, waiting, making appropriate preparations and prior designs, and a comprehensive and total reform of all aspects of life. The Imam [Banna] delineated transitional goals and detailed methods to achieve this greatest objective, starting by reforming the individual, followed by building the family, the society, the government, and then a rightly guided caliphate and finally mastership of the world.

Da’wa is all about incremental change. Not that “incremental” is necessarily synonymous with “glacially slow.”  As a case in point,  Egypt  has been going through its Islamizing stages fairly rapidly. The Tahrir Square demonstration only started a year ago this week. When they started, the Muslim Brotherhood was still outlawed, and had been for more than 60 years. Now the Ikhwan holds the majority of the Parliament. That’s how fast things can change.

All the transformations that Badi’s looking forward to -- from “reforming the individual” to crushing the whole planet under Islamic “mastership” – are to be accomplished through the rigid application of Sharia.

Don’t think for one second the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t intend to force an Islamic lifestyle on all Egyptians. Sharia is not imposed incrementally where Islamists hold most of the power.  (It’s only imposed bit by bit where Islamists are a minority, like in Dearborn). 

Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood chapter that controls Gaza, also pretended to “respect freedom” when they seized power there in 2007.

Gaza, a tiny sliver of land squeezed between Egypt and Israel, always had a significant Islamic flavour, but once tolerated bars and cinemas, especially during Egyptian rule from 1948 to 1967. A conservative religious movement began to take hold in the 1980s, as part of a larger, region-wide religious awakening.

The trend accelerated with the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in 1987, which coincided with the founding of Hamas. In June 2007, Hamas seized control of Gaza after ousting forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The trend toward religious fundamentalism preceded the Hamas takeover. In recent years, hardliners have burned down the cinemas. Their charred remains are still visible in Gaza City. Militants blew up the last bar in 2005. (“Gaza's elected Islamist rulers crack down on secular community”).

This past week, Hamas has banned Gaza residents from participating in “New Star,” the Palestinian version of “American Idol”:

The organizers said Hamas told them the program is “indecent,” in what appears to be a new attempt by the fundamentalist militant Muslim group to crack down on behavior it sees as contrary to its conservative interpretation of Islam.

In the past, Hamas has banned women from riding on the backs of motorbikes, women from smoking water pipes, and men from working in hair salons — saying such practices were immodest. (“Gaza’s Hamas rulers ban Palestinian singing competition, organizers say).

According to the Telegraph, last February Hamas was saying “claims that they are trying to Islamise Gaza are meant to help deter the international community from recognising their rule. ‘This isn't true,’ said Yousef Rizka, a senior Hamas government official. ‘We respect freedom.’”

The point of all this is not that Islamists are moral reactionaries who won’t be happy until every woman on Earth is hidden inside an ugly black bag.

The point is that Islamists are lying to our faces about what they are trying to do.

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