COMMENTARY | Moments ago, President Morsi signed Egypt’s new Islamist Constitution into law, arousing the anger of pro-democracy forces across the struggling, strife-torn Middle Eastern nation. The Constitution was drafted by Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi legislators from the Egyptian Parliament. Members of the secular opposition and moderate Muslim parliamentarians resigned from the Constitutional committee, citing the unwillingness of the Islamists to negotiate a fair and balanced secular Constitution that would respect the rights of all Egyptians.
The new Constitution was signed into law following a recent two stage referendum in which less than half of Egypt’s eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots. Many opponents of the new Constitution complained of widespread intimidation by the Muslim Brotherhood and ultra religious Salafi extremists. The Brotherhood placed several “observers” at every single polling place throughout the nation, and judges in some provinces banned unveiled women from voting. Coptic Christians reported constant violence and death threats against members of their community as Islamists tried to force the Copts to vote in favor of the new Constitution.
“A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church—by Allah, and again, by Allah—if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter [screams of "Allah Akbar!" followed by chants of "With our soul, with our blood, we give to you, O Islam!"] … We say and I say to the Church: Yes, you share this country with us; but there are red lines—and our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Mohammed Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him”
Opponents of Morsi and his well organized Muslim Brotherhood backers have taken to the streets to protest, often resulting in bloody clashes with the military and police. Pro-democracy advocates, who led the movement to topple Mubarak, feel their fledgling Democracy has been hijacked by Morsi, the man they are calling Egypt’s new Pharaoh.
Fraud and violence were a favorite weapon of Egypt’s previous leaders. Millions of hard working Egyptians occupied Tahrir Square in an attempt to make a better life for themselves and their children. While the desperate poor who make up the vast majority of the nation’s population were still struggling to put food on the table, Morsi chose to devote his attention to making Sharia the law of the land and largely ignored the needs of the people.
While Cairo is calm at the moment, it is by no means a sign of the end of the dispute between the hard-line Islamists who back Morsi and the supporters of Democracy who led the Arab Spring. Many people who voted in favor of the new Constitution told reporters they only voted yes to end the unrest in Egypt in hope that Morsi would finally begin to focus on the economy. They were willing to take a chance on Morsi keeping his promises in order to get a job or prevent their family from starving even though they don’t support the contents of the new Constitution.
It is a sad comment on the state of affairs in the new Egypt when voters are willing to sign away their future and accept an Islamist Constitution instead of one that would provide true Democracy to all Egyptians. Perhaps Mr. Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the murderous Salafi thugs who are constantly calling for Coptic Christian blood could explain to the 10 million Christians in Egypt how their rights are protected under Sharia Law and Egypt’s Islamist Constitution. Perhaps they will explain to the 40 percent of the voters who are opposed to an Islamist constitution how they will treated treated as equals. Perhaps they will explain to the more than 50 percent of the Egyptian voters who were so discouraged they didn’t even bother to vote why they should continue to place one iota of trust in Mr. Morsi and his friends who would gladly see Sharia imposed on the entire world.
We need to listen to Dr. Muhammad Badi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who spoke these words openly and without equivocation:
“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 [Hassan Banna, founder] 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.”
Another cleric made it clear the goal will be accomplished, even if it means endless war. This is not a fantasy or the result of some irrational prejudice against Muslims. The Islamists are serious, dedicated to the Caliphate, and have millions and millions of supporters. During the course of human history, untold numbers of innocents perished in the name of organized religion. The desire to impose a particular religion on non-believers is the eternal curse of the human race.
We need to listen to the words of these fanatics and take them seriously:
“We seek peace… If not through peace, there is nothing preventing war. We welcome war. The day will come when we will be the masters of the world. One of the tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they cannot renounce, is the goal of global dominance by an Islamic caliphate.”
The people of Egypt deserve all the good things Democracy can bring: jobs, freedom from fear, food on the table, and the right to worship the god of their choice. While we may wish these things for them, we do not have the right to impose our way of life on the Egyptian people. If they truly choose to live under Sharia Law and subject non-Muslims to oppression then they will do so and there is nothing we can do to change it except to support those Egyptians willing to stand up for Democracy and freedom.
There is also one thing we cannot do, and that is give billions of dollars a year in military aid and advanced armaments to a nation that imposes Sharia law on its people. The constant calls from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis to destroy Israel should be enough to make it clear to Mr. Obama that rearming the Egyptians is a very bad idea.