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Arab Spring Forward for Islamist parties

It looks like the elections in Egypt are being dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (Islamists) and the Nour party (bats**t crazy Islamists). NRO's Andy McCarthy reads the tea leaves.

It would be hard to overstate what a catastrophe the Egyptian elections are shaping into. Reports about stage one of the long process show not only that the Muslim Brotherhood may be getting over 50 percent of the vote; an even more extreme Islamist party — called “Nour” — is apparently getting between 10 and 15 percent.

In a bit of sleight-of-hand I’ve noted before, the media describes as “Salafists” the elements that are even more extreme Islamists than the MB. This is a device to help the Obama administration’s assiduous campaign to airbrush the Brotherhood into a “moderate” organization — one that National Intelligence Director James Clapper so memorably (and ludicrously) described as “largely secular.”

Do not be deceived. The MB is itself a Salafist organization. Salafism is a retro-refom movement that seeks to return Muslims to what as seen as the pure Islam of the founding generations (the Salafiyyah — the “righteous companions” of Mohammed). MB founder Hassan al-Banna was a Salafist. So was Sayyid Qutb — the most important MB theorist of the second half of the 20th Century. So is the MB’s leading sharia jurist in modern times, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi (despite efforts by his delusional Western fans to portray him as a modernizing reformer). The difference between MB Salafists and more extreme Salafists (like the difference between the MB and al Qaeda) is much more about methodology than ideology). It is akin to the difference between Saul Alinksy organizers and the New Left radicals of the 60s and 70s. The MB has always believed in working with (and penetrating) government, and boring into society’s institutions, in order to Islamize society gradually. More extreme Salafists reject secular society and refuse to interact with its government — on the theory that such interaction corrupts them while legitimizing the secular government. But the goal of both sides is precisely the same: to install sharia law as the foundation for Islamizing the society.

To quote Dana Carvey's Church Lady "Well isn't that special". Many people, including some of our writers and commenters, have been dead on in worrying this would happen. The most organized and motivated people in most of the Arab Springing countries have been the religionists.This has been evident in the propaganda and get out the vote efforts they have made during the run up to these elections. I held out some hope that less virulent elements might prevail, but it looks like I was wrong. So now what happens?

It appears that we will now see some sharia-based Islamist regimes installed and that means some good old-fashioned religious oppression. I think the Islamists may overestimate the number of people who really welcome a return to the 12th Century. Right now many in Egypt are voting for any sort of order and the Muslim Brothers are definitely organized as I said. But I wonder whether they will relish the re-backwardization policies that will be instituted? If they follow the road mao, we could see the MB blowing up the Sphinx for the same reasons the Taliban blew up the giant Buddhas in Afghanistan. There are a grand total of zero prosperous Islamist countries that do not derive their prosperity solely from pumping dead dinosaurs out of the ground, so how will this religious paradise function?

As an aggravating factor you can add the usual Jooooooo hatred. Egypt has previously kept the border with the Gaza Strip and its terror-loving Hamas closed. It seems likely that this will soon be a terror trail and that all manner of bad actions will recommence. The Egyptian Army has a more secular makeup, annd has historically acted as a brake on the more radical elements. But what about now if the radicals actually hold the reins of power? Will they replace the secularists with their own generals a la Turkey?

Here is the question I will pose. Islamists have significant support, they either needed to be ruthlessly beaten down and placed under a boot by some sort of military-backed tyrant or they can take power via elections. Would you prefer to have to manage a Mubarak-like figure and be seen as the power behind the oppressor, or to stand back, give them some rope and see if they will hang themselves? They may even attack Israel again and get their asses handed to them....again.

I don't see that we had any real chance to avoid seeing this play out without becoming the global imperialists we are often accused of being. So I prefer my enemies out in public, doing stupid oppressive things and hopefully stepping over any number of lines that can earn them some pain. Maybe at the ballot box once their people realize that Islamist submission equals an even crappier life, or on the field of battle where they can show again that Arab military competence remains an oxymoron. Either way this was gonna happen. Now laissez the unintended consequences rouler.