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Muslim Brotherhood is Certainly Not Anti-modern
The Brotherhood actually are as close to modernist liberals as anyone in the spectrum of Egyptian politics will come. They resemble a European party of Christian Democrats. Yes, they emphasize the religion of Islam, but then that just reflects the practice of the people in that country. While they hardly approve of Israel, they do not intend to resume war with it or to end the peace treaty with
Wednesday, June 14,2006 00:00
by Khalid Yahya

The Brotherhood actually are as close to modernist liberals as anyone in the spectrum of Egyptian politics will come. They resemble a European party of Christian Democrats. Yes, they emphasize the religion of Islam, but then that just reflects the practice of the people in that country. While they hardly approve of Israel, they do not intend to resume war with it or to end the peace treaty with it.

If they actually come to power, they will be faced with the same problems that any government and will have to make compromises. Of course, they will reflect the actual popular attitude toward the U.S. that previous imperialism has caused and the Bush administration has exacerbated. But that does not mean that they are wholly anti-Western or anti-American, and they are certainly not anti-modern. While trying to maintain economic autonomy, they will certainly not try to stop the import of goods that Egypt needs.

In attempting to implement more ethical policies on the beast that is the government, they are sure to find a lot of disappointments, but this does not make them unfit for the task. And if they do not deliver, they will lose their popularity like any politicians.

Secondly, it is not wise . . . to play the "Islamic threat" card any more than it is for the U.S. government, because this leads to the reinforcement of inaccurate and prejudicial generalizations and stereotypes. There are people who are more radical because they are more hurt, especially people whose countries have been trashed by immoral aggressive wars, but the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is not in this category, as Egypt has been spared wars in most of its recent history, especially since 1973. Islam in Egypt is very complicated, and one should avoid facile generalizations like the one above.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters are not even necessarily statistics, although some of them might be. Their support stems from a yearning for greater justice and a desire to protect the autonomy of the Muslims in their families. They should be considered people whom libertarians can profitably address, especially since socialism has now come to be viewed somewhat unfavorably in Egypt after the ’Abd al-Nasir regime experience of 1952-1970.

 . . . while Islam as a religion is not quite libertarian in its economic system, perhaps, there are many parallels, even though today there are also modernist interpretations that try to make room for a more-developed state. This will elicit opposition, however, just as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, because the state will always alienate the people, and the modern state, with all the intrusive means at its disposal, will alienate them even more.

I am an American professor, but I lived in Egypt for 11 years and travel there frequently.

~ Khalid Yahya Blankenship, director of graduate studies and associate professor, Department of Religion, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

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