The crowds in Egypt’s Tahrir Square have returned in response to the military controlled Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision to disband the parliament. But who are these protestors? They are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that was banned under the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, and pro-Islamists. They want to see Egypt turned from a relatively pro-western, secular state to another Islamist one.
The United States is considering withholding 1.3 billion dollars in military aid to Egypt if the democratic process is not respected. But why? It was not secular groups that were elected into power, rather the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist groups. Even the office of the presidency looks like it has gone to the Brotherhood as well. Is the United States pushing Egypt toward the abyss of Islamic rule?
It’s a general rule in the study of political science that democracies do not go to war with each other. While this may hold true in western democracies with similar values, it does not for Islamist states – where war with infidels is expected. We find this in the democratically elected Gaza Strip, where Hamas was their party of choice. At this moment, at least 99 rockets have been shot into southern Israel just over the last three days. It doesn’t seem to matter to Hamas that Israel is a democracy as well.
The concept of western style democracy – respect given to differing views, opinions and religion – does not exist in the Islamic world. Why is the United States forcing the military to give up power to the Islamists? Are we so blind to think that an Islamic definition of “democracy” is the same as ours? To paraphrase a teacher of mine, “The Middle East is certainly not the middle west.”
I do suppose that the United States is being consistent. We helped unseat Hosni Mubarak after he kept the peace in the region for 30 years in the name of democracy. It’s only fair to make sure that under free and fair elections, the Islamists that were properly elected be allowed to take power – but to support democracy for the sake of democracy is a dangerous road to travel, and not one I’d want to take.