The events of recent days in Egypt offer a sober lesson to westerners who think the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak resembles the American Revolution.
Much of the television commentary revealed complete ignorance about the history of the region and of Egypt and especially the clear and present danger of a theocratic coup by the Muslim Brotherhood. First prize for those who are clueless about what is transpiring before their blind eyes goes to James Clapper, director of National Intelligence (though the runner-up prize goes to a TV commentator who compared demonstrators in Tahrir Square to America's tea party movement.)
Clapper told a congressional hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood is a "heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam."
Perhaps Clapper can explain then why the Brotherhood endorsed Hitler's goal of eradicating the Jews and conspired to assassinate the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and his predecessor Gamal Abdel Nasser.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, "The Muslim Brotherhood no longer openly conducts terrorist operations; it is primarily a political organization that supports terrorism and terrorist causes. Many of its members, however, have engaged in terrorist activities and the group has spawned numerous terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Egyptian Islamic Jihad."
The Muslim Brotherhood is not just one of "a variety of movements" within Egypt, as Clapper asserted, but a powerful and influential religious-political force any "democratic" movement must reckon with. According to a 2009 study by WorldPublicOpinion.org, 64 percent of Egyptians view the Muslim Brotherhood positively, while only 16 percent have negative views. Sixty-nine percent think the Brotherhood favors democracy. Just 22 percent say they are too extreme and not really democratic.
Douglas Schoen has advised four Israeli prime ministers, as well as the prime minister of Turkey. In a commentary for Foxnews.com, Schoen writes he believes there is "at least a 50 percent chance, if not more, that a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood or a party with a generally similar approach and orientation will win the next presidential election."
Why? Consider a Pew poll conducted last year which showed 48 percent of Egyptians say that Islam plays a large role in politics in Egypt and 85 percent say Islam's influence in politics is positive. Only 2 percent said it is negative. "Not surprisingly," writes Schoen, that a Zogby poll found two-thirds of Egyptians think, "Egyptian life would improve when clerics play a more central role in the political life of the country."