America used to be acknowledged as a beacon of democracy, a defender of values, a bridge-builder between people and nations, and an example for the entire world to emulate. In the Middle East, this image of America is unfortunately quickly losing its place in the hearts of democracy lovers and peace makers of this tortured region.
In early 2011, political observers noted that the Obama administration had begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility towards the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). This reversal was carried out with full knowledge that Brethren policy calls for the imposition of the Islamic Shari’a on Christians and liberal Muslims who reject this policy as tyrannical. Their organizational creed says it all: “Allah is our objective, the Qur’an is our law, the Prophet is our leader, Jihad is our way and death for the sake of Allah is the highest aspiration”. Even the MB emblem appears to encourage military Jihad, consisting of two swords and the Qur’an. This would probably be acceptable in a homogeneous Muslim Society like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), but it is certainly not the case in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
It would be tempting to ask the leaders of the current U.S. administration: is the principle of the U.S. constitution’s first amendment that separates the sacred (Church) from the secular too good for a country like Egypt? Or is there an ulterior motive behind the new Obama policy towards the Brotherhood? It seems that the current administration has no problem using two sets of rules that it may use or misuse for its immediate benefits; but certainly not for that of the people who will suffer from their new choice.
It is important to recall at this point that the MB is not a religious organization that calls for the protection of persecuted minorities (religious or otherwise), nor is it a charitable society that sends volunteers to serve in leprosy colonies, and it has not been known to teach its male members to look at women with pure lust-free eyes when it is much easier to cover them with heavy layers of veils. In fact, the MB’s first aim is to introduce sharia as the jurisprudence that fundamentally governs the affairs of State and society. The second aim of the MB is to work towards unification of Islamic countries, especially the Arab states. It is no coincidence that the MB association was founded in 1928, four years after the fall of the Turkish Caliphate. With a renewed Caliphate, the Islamists hope to reunite all Muslims from Indonesia to Morocco.
The MB is extremely well organized and could work very efficiently for the unity of Muslims around the world. Moreover, as noted by political analyst Igor Ignatchenko, the MB is an international Islamist organization forming a network type structure with offices representing the organization in 30 countries. It has recently proved its efficiency in helping to topple Qadhafi in Libya and in winning the elections in Egypt and Palestine, where it is known as the Hamas Organization.
Why has the United States (in its current administration) dramatically changed its policy towards the MB? How could such a policy be made by leaders of a country founded on the principles of strict separation of Church and State? I am at a loss to answer that question, and worry about the underlying political ethics of the Obama/Clinton team. Have Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton forgotten the toxic effects that followed the support of the radical Islamist Mujahedin war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and how it resulted in the destabilization of the Middle East and the entire world? Have they also forgotten how easy it was to destabilize Iran by the support of the Ayatollah?
If this political volte-face is done to better control a weakened and destabilized Middle East, the fact is that it would be more profitable for the United States to use her offices in order to encourage and help Egypt and other Arab nations enjoy authentic democracy that is exposed to the values of separating the sacred from the secular. Furthermore, the United States should promote industrial, agricultural, economic and scientific progress in order to render those nations peaceful and prosperous and therefore are less likely to use violence in solving problems.
Separation of Church and State is central to the U.S. Constitution. It is so important that it is inserted in the first amendment of the Constitution which reads as follows: “Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is why America does not have a state religion such as found in the KSA and in Egypt. It is also on account of this constitution that America is prohibited from going to war for religious reasons.
It is important to understand however, that separating the sacred from the secular does not mean to call for a radical divorce from personal ethics which, whether we like it or not, has been protected in America by the Judeo-Christian code of morality that has been espoused by the United States for well over two centuries.
Today, liberals and religious minorities of Egypt are forced to helplessly face a U.S. administration that is prepared to sell the well-being of peace-hungry minorities such as the Christians, the liberal Muslims and the Baha’is to the Islamists and their oil rich Arabian financiers the well-being of peace-hungry minorities such as the Christians, the liberal Muslims and the Baha’is, all for thirty barrels of oil.
It should be known however that the new U.S. policy towards the MB has not gained her the long term support of the Islamists, despite the Obama administration’s shameful attempt to placate the enemies of democracy at the cost of abandoning its traditional liberal friends.
The Christians and liberals of the Arab Middle East have been deeply hurt by the current reversal of U.S. policy and hope that a return to sanity will soon arrive with a wiser administration. As for the radical Islamists, their hatred for the United States will never abate because of their rejection of many American values that are felt to be inimical to those of radical Islamists.
Dr. Amin Makram Ebeid (FRCS,FACS) is an intellectual, an author of books on Egyptian social, cultural, and historical matters, and a retired surgeon. Fikraforum.org
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