Thursday, May 17, 2012

The ‘United Arab States’?

With its capital in Jerusalem, no less.

From Thursday’s Detroit News:

Cairo— At a campaign rally for the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for president, a hardline cleric and TV preacher sang Mohammed Morsi's praises before thousands massed in the stadium of an industrial city in Egypt's Nile Delta.

"We are seeing the dream of the Islamic Caliphate coming true at the hands of Mohammed Morsi," the cleric, Safwat Hegazy, blared from his podium.

"The capital of the Caliphate and the United Arab States is Jerusalem, God willing," he added, as thousands cheered and waved the Brotherhood's green flag, chanting, "The people want to implement God's law."

On the campaign trail for the presidential election, now only seven days away, the Muslim Brotherhood has taken a sharp turn rightward, becoming bolder in saying it wants to bring a state where religion and Islamic law play a major role — and insisting that it has the right to rule.

As a result, it has moved away from the more moderate face that it promoted since even before the fall of Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago. During campaigning for parliament elections late last year, the Brotherhood insisted that implementing Islamic law was not its immediate priority, instead speaking vaguely of an "Islamic background" to government. It also sought to assuage fears that it seeks to take over the country by promising to work with other, liberal factions. (“Egypt's radicals growing bolder”).

Surprised? Neither am I.

The Associated Press reporter attempts to explain the Brotherhood’s current hard line Islamism as a “turn” resulting from recent political disappointments. But those of us who have made it our business to pay attention to the history and unchanging goals of the Ikhwan expected precisely this to happen from the very outset of Egypt’s misnamed “Arab Spring.” This isn’t the result of a turn. The Brothers wanted a caliphate all along, and were only waiting until they felt strong enough to drop the moderate act.

As the AP story tells it:

Whatever the reasons, the group no longer tap-dances around questions of implementing Islamic Shariah law.

"We will not accept any alternative to Shariah. ... The Quran is our constitution and it will always be so," Morsi told a crowd of supporters at a Cairo University rally.

In an interview with the Associated Press, [Brotherhood deputy leader Khairat] el-Shater — who appears alongside Morsi on the campaign trail so often that critics say he would be shadow president — said laws must conform with Shariah. He said the Brotherhood would stipulate that officials tasked with reforming Egypt's economy, politics, media and other sectors also have religious expertise.

"Those who decide what system works best are specialists who are not only political scientists but who also studied Shariah," he said.

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