Egypt could well embrace the dark side (to mix movie metaphors) and become the region's biggest force for extremism, just ahead of the Wahaabists in Saudi Arabia, though Iran with its race toward nuclear weapons poses the most immediate danger.
The lowlights of the draft constitution ought to alarm all but the most complacent, as well as those who have been in denial, claiming we have nothing to fear from this "peaceful religion," which somehow keeps providing examples to the contrary.
According to the Associated Press, the new draft says, "...the principles of Islamic law" are to be enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. Previously, notes the AP, those principles were open to interpretation, but in the latest draft a separate new article is added that defines "principles" by "pointing to particular theological doctrines and their rules," which will likely result in a stricter interpretation.
Other articles in the draft fail to guarantee equal rights for women, or tolerance for other religious beliefs, including, presumably, moderate Islamic beliefs that conflict with the doctrines of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptians won't be allowed to "insult or defame the Prophet," but what constitutes an insult and the punishment for the affront is not spelled out.
Another article preserves military tribunals, allowing them to try civilians. AP estimates 11,000 civilians "were tried before military tribunals during the post-Mubarak transition..." The constitution does not ban slavery, according to AP, or guarantee that Egypt will adhere to international rights treaties.
All of this was foreseeable, if the West had listened to what Islamists promised to do when they achieved political power. We're not dealing with classified information here. In other countries where Islamists have gained power -- in our era and throughout history -- they have behaved toward others with differing beliefs and religions exactly as they are behaving now. Except now, opponents scatter for fear of being labeled an "Islamophobe." Are they Islamophobes if they quote Islamists' words and point to their actions in an effort to warn others what is coming? Free people ought to be afraid and act accordingly.
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