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The Ugly Side of Egyptian Democracy

It’s been a few weeks now, and all the people who were supporters of the Egyptian revolution must be delirious with the results. What else could explain their silence on the actual fallout of the rush to democracy? We were told that there was no way it would turn into a Islamic theocracy, Egypt was too civilized. The protesters were all young, implying that they couldn’t be Islamic fundamentalists. Some of us were led to believe that this was the dawning of a new enlightenment in the Arab world; a veritable renaissance of gentility. What really happened? Let’s see.

According to Father Abram Fahmy, pastor of St. Simon the Tanner Monastery in Mokatam Hills, on the outskirts of Cairo, Copts were killed and injured yesterday in a fresh attack by Muslims. It was reported the Egyptian army fired live ammunition on Copts. The attack has claimed until now the lives of 9 Copts and injured 150, 45 seriously. Muslims threw fire balls at the Monastery from the top of the hills. Eight homes and 20 garbage recycling factories owned by Copts have been torched, as well as 30 garbage collection vehicles. CNN reports all of the known fatalities are Christians, though it masks this incident under the term “sectarian clashes” and describes the cause as “a feud between a Muslim and a Coptic family.”

What caused the “feud?” Assyrian International News Agency reports that “The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did not kill his daughter to preserve the family’s honor, which led the woman’s brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians.”

The Muslim response? “9 Christians Killed, 150 Injured in Attack By 15,000 Muslims and Egyptian Army,” from the AINA, March 9. Nearly 15,000 Muslims from the nearby area of Sayeda Aisha and Mokattam, who were armed with weapons including automatic weapons, confronted the Copts, who were protesting to show their solidarity with the Copts of the village of Soul in Atfif, who were forcibly displaced from their village and their church torched (AINA 3-5-2011). The clashes first started with hurling of stones at the Coptic demonstrators, then molotov cocktails. According to eyewitnesses the Copts called the army which arrived at the scene at 15:00 with 10 tanks . At first the military stood by watching, then shot in the air, then at the Coptic side with live ammunition. “We were at one side and the Muslim on the other, we have hundreds of injured at the Coptic side,” said an eyewitness. “The Muslims were also shooting from behind the army tanks.”

This is the same army that was hailed for its forbearance during the revolution. Attorney Wagih Anwar Abou Saad, an eyewitness, told Free Coptic Voice the army has been firing live ammunition on the Copts since 3 PM. “The army is protecting the Muslims, who sought shelter behind the army tanks,” he said. There are no reports of any Muslim casualties. Quel surprise!

What else has been happening? Well, in the same week as International Day of the Woman, what started as a peaceful protest ended in violence. “Egyptian million woman march ends with a gunshot,” reports Ahram Online, March 8.

The Million Woman March started with activists sharing flyers and their ideas with other people in Tahrir. The ideas of the movement were not acceptable to the majority of the people. “I feel people are disgraceful, they don’t want equal rights for women,” Yasmine Perni, an Italian photographer participating in the march told Ahram Online. Perni had a long conversation with a koshary seller who told her that she is well off and does not need money and for that reason she should not voice her opinion. He also argued that women should stay at home and not engage in political life. The conversation became aggressive and the man started ripping up the flyers of the movement and throwing them on the ground. “Egyptian women are too emotional. They are different from western ladies,” Mahmoud Ahmed told Ahram Online. Others rejected the ideas of the march because of religious backgrounds. “We rule by the Quran and the Quran does not allow a woman to rule men,” said Mustafa Tarek to Ahram Online. Meanwhile, as a group of activists stood side-by-side holding banners of the movement calling for equality, another group of male protesters came from the other side to disrupt the march. As males and females activists chanted “Men and women, one hand,” “Muslims and Christian, one hand,” the other group described as “thugs” chanted “No, no, the people want women to step down,” and “The Quran is our ruler.”

This is the same Quran that attaches a woman’s value to obedience (“good women are obedient”), and gives men the right — from Allah’s own command — to beat women from whom they “fear disobedience.” The spirit of that verse is alive and well in those who turned out to grope, shove, belittle, and shout at the relatively few women who dared participate in the “Million Woman March” in Cairo. Which, of course, would never happen in the new Egypt.

How can we explain all this? Let’s ask Imam Rauf, the so-called “9/11 mosque” leader and spokesman. He was on television the other day, criticizing the King hearings on radical Muslims. What did Rauf have to say about violent Muslims?

“It’s a cycle. The radicals fuel each other and feed on each other. So when something happens like this, it arouses hostility among the other, the non-Muslim community. You have a Christ[ian]- evangelical leader, for example who says Islam is an evil religion. That becomes the banner headline in the Muslim world, both domestically, and more important, overseas. It arouses hostility there. The Danish cartoon — the Danish paper commissions cartoons. It creates hostility in the Muslim world. People in the West begin to say, oh, look, there’s no freedom of speech, and you create this cycle, this spiral. It is this spiral that we have to stop.”

So, according to Rauf, the problem is free speech. If nobody ever criticized Islam, then the Muslims wouldn’t kill anyone. Note that this is logically equivalent to saying that if you criticize Islam, violence will result. The funny thing is, events in Egypt prove him right. The Copts protest being killed by Muslims, the Muslims kill more of them. Women speak up for equality, Muslims turn violent to break up a rally. A Dane draws a cartoon, Muslims riot worldwide.

The problem is, that if we allow ourselves to be silenced by the threat of violence then evil wins. We cannot allow more of the middle-east to be hijacked by the Islamo-fascists that are bent on the destruction of Western civilization and values. Remember Lord Acton’s dictum: “All that is necessary for the success of evil is that good men do nothing.”

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