February 15, 2011
Everyone is excited about the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. “This is a moment of huge opportunity,” enthused one noted analyst. Another agreed: “We will soon see a new Middle East materializing.” The two analysts in question are Tony Blair and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—and that sums up the reigning confusion about what exactly has happened in Egypt, and what is likely to happen next.
Blair opined that “this is a moment of huge opportunity, not just for Egypt,” but for the entire Middle East. “Despite all those challenges,” Blair added, “this is a moment when the whole of the Middle East could pivot and face towards change and modernization and democracy.”
Maybe. Ahmadinejad, however, is envisioning a wholly different scenario. He predicted that “we will soon see a new Middle East materializing without America and the Zionist regime, and there will be no room for world arrogance [that is, the West] in it.”
So who’s right? Will Egypt become a Western-style pluralistic democracy, with equal rights for women, as well as for its sizable and embattled Christian minority? Or was Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Ahmad Mersi correct when he declared that the Egyptian people want the rule of Islamic law?
Over the course of Egypt’s revolution, the mainstream media has been intent on downplaying the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian presidential contender Mohamed ElBaradei also minimized both the Brotherhood’s commitment to the draconian elements of Islamic law and its popularity, saying, “This is total bogus that the Muslim Brotherhood are religiously conservative. They are no way extremists. They are no way using violence. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people. They will not be more than maybe 20 percent of the Egyptian people.”...
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