Monday, February 7, 2011

Kirsten Powers: "Americans' Naivete About Egypt"

In case you are not familiar with Kirsten Powers, she has an impressive resume, as stated at The Daily Beast: Kirsten Powers is a columnist for The Daily Beast. She is also a political analyst on Fox News and a writer for the New York Post. She served in the Clinton Administration from 1993-1998 and has worked in New York state and city politics. Her writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Observer,, Elle magazine and American Prospect online.

One thing this brief biography does not say, though, is that she also has family in Egypt. She knows whereof she speaks when she says the following from The Daily Beast post regarding the Egyptian uprising and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular:
Don’t buy the hype about the moderate Muslim Brotherhood. Kirsten Powers on why the U.S. should worry about the rise of an Islamic power in Cairo. Plus, full coverage of the Egypt unrest.

Americans are notoriously naïve.

This is the message I am getting from people I know in Egypt today.

When the protests first began in Egypt, I was in constant contact with an Egyptian relative who is a successful businessman, university professor and astute student of world politics. As my husband and I panicked for our family’s safety, this relative was calm, assuring me that Hosni Mubarak would appoint an interim government and that there would likely be an important role for Omar Suileman, who is a well respected leader in Egypt. Both these things quickly came true. Day after day he assured me that everything would be fine. He was sure that the Muslim Brotherhood—which he regards as a radical Islamist group – was not organized enough to gain any significant power.

Today, he was not so calm. Our family in Egypt is shocked and alarmed by what they are hearing from Western voices and even the apparent leading opposition candidate Mohamed ElBaradei—who has partnered with the Muslim Brotherhood -- who claim that the Brotherhood is a moderate group that should not be feared.

As of this writing, all of the news sources are reporting one thing - Obama got his demand. That demand, as I have written previously, is that he wants the Muslim Brotherhood to have a seat at the table. And so they will. It is just disturbing beyond belief that a US President would make such a demand for a group like the Muslim Brotherhood, yet he did. Shocking.

Ms. Powers also speaks about the Christians in Egypt and the difficulties they face. The bombing of a Coptic Church on January 1st in Alexandria in which 23 people were murdered, and 79 hurt, is a case in point. Just the other day, two Coptic Christian families were shot and killed, a total of 11 people, including children.

It leaves me speechless, and incredibly sad. So, I will return to Ms. Powers' post:
[snip] As a liberal, I have a very hard time with the idea that I’m not supposed to care about a potential government that is oppressive to minorities and women.

During the last elections, the Brotherhood's slogan was “Islam is the solution.” Its logo is a black flag with a sword and the Koran.


I spent much of yesterday interviewing American experts on the region—including two Brookings Institution scholars who are experts on the Muslim Brotherhood—and was reassured over and over that the organization has reformed and does not seek to establish a fundamentalist state. One claimed that Brotherhood officials have said they view Copts as equal citizens.

My relative laughed at this. He says when Brotherhood members have been asked about how they would treat Christians they are vague. When asked about whether they would nationalize the banks, they are vague. Even one of the Brookings scholars told me that the Brotherhood would probably segregate the sexes. This is far from a secular group.

I had a similar reaction when an old friend tried to claim that the BBC said the Muslim Brotherhood was moderate now, and opposed to violence (something not in the Profile they did). This organization gave birth to the likes of Hamas and Al Qaeda, and we are honestly supposed to believe this organization, which helped fuel the recent protests, has changed their stripes, with a slogan like, "Islam Is The Solution" (and, "Resistance Is Futile?")? Uh, sure, okay.

Ms. Powers seems to be of the same opinion:
Our family in Egypt always makes the point that if the current regime—which is considered moderate and quasi-secular—arrests people who convert from Islam to Christianity, what do you think it will be like if power is seized by a group that has as its explicit goal the spread of Islam?

One of the things I consistently hear from the Egyptian Christians I know is that Islamists know the right things to say in order to gain power. They are sophisticated. They are especially astute at telling Westerners what they want to hear.


As a liberal, I have a very hard time with the idea that I’m not supposed to care about a potential government that is oppressive to minorities and women. I also do not support theocracies—Muslim, Christian or otherwise even if they aren't fundamentalist. If find it strange that so many American liberals aren’t concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated mission to “spread Islam.” It’s hard to imagine them being so unconcerned about a Christian political group with the stated mission of establishing a Christian theocracy gaining power in a new government.

If the Muslim Brotherhood wants to evangelize Islam on its own time that is fine; but it shouldn't be able to use government power to do so. I should also note that it is already against the law for Christians to share their faith in Egypt—and that’s under a quasi-secular government. (Human Rights Watch last year accused Egypt of “widespread discrimination” against Christians and other religious minorities.)

This isn’t to say that Mubarak deserves our support. He's an oppressive dictator. But all the Americans who are supporting the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the new government need to understand who they really are. Beyond my own personal concern for the treatment of Christians and women, fundamentalist Islamic governments generally aren’t known for being pro-American.

I shared with my Egyptian relative that most experts I spoke to here believe that Turkey is the model that Egypt will follow.

Again, laughter. (Click here to read the rest.)

Yeah, I bet. But I'm not laughing. Again, I have to ask, why does Obama have so many connections to this organization? How can that possibly be, and why are so few people concerned about that given for what they stand?

And in all honesty, I am thankful I had a chance to go to Egypt when I did. Muslims of the Brotherhood variety don't deal too well with people of my persuasion, or gender, for that matter. Because for what the Muslim Brotherhood stands, "Islam is the Solution," is to promote Sharia Law. Let me give you just a few more examples of what that means for, oh, let's just begin with homosexuals (from Top Ten Reasons Why Sharia Is Bad For All Societies):
In February 1998, the Taliban, who once ruled in Afghanistan, ordered a stone wall to be pushed over three men convicted of sodomy. Their lives were to be spared if they survived for 30 minutes and were still alive when the stones were removed.

In its 1991 Constitution, in Articles 108—113, Iran adopted the punishment of execution for sodomy.

In April 2005, a Kuwaiti cleric says homosexuals should be thrown off a mountain or stoned to death.

On April 7, 2005, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for 'gay conduct.'

Anyone want to take bets on how long those men survived having a stone wall pushed over on them? Yeah, I wouldn't take that bet, either.

How do women fare? Well, heaven help you if you are married:
[snip] The Quran says:
4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, the Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004)

The hadith says that Muslim women in the time of Muhammad were suffering from domestic violence in the context of confusing marriage laws:

Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az—Zubair Al—Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" (Bukhari)

This hadith shows Muhammad hitting his girl—bride, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr: Muslim no. 2127:

'He [Muhammad] struck me [Aisha] on the chest which caused me pain.'

Oh, sure, that's the old school talk. But hey - you can check out this cleric describing the proper way for a man to beat his wife a year ago in Egypt. Wait until you see the justification for it:

Well, okay then - as long as you don't curse her when you beat her, then things are just peachy keen.

Good grief. Oh, there is so, so much more to Sharia Law along these same lines.

Tell me again why, and how, Obama is so connected to the Brotherhood? How is it he asked a member of an outlawed group to attend his big speech? Why does he keep pushing for them to have a seat at the table?? I really want to know.

What will it take to break through Americans' naivete about Egypt, about the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sharia Law? I'm with Ms. Powers. I am not okay with Egypt being given over to Islamic Rule, for women, for Christians, for the stability of the Middle East, and the impact on Israel.

I can only think of our lovely tour guide, how proud she was of how far women had come in her country, how they only had to wear the hijab, that they were able to work, and go to school. I hope, and pray, for her sake and all the women there, that Egypt does not give over to the conservative elements. I guess this is one of the times that, truly, only time will tell.

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