Islam vs. Dictatorship

Helena Cobban’s world affairs blog Just World News has a fascinating interview with Dr. Abdel Monem Abul-Futouh, a member of the Guidance Council of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

    You as Americans need to understand how good our dictatorial regimes are, at using all the issue about the the Islamic “threat” to get support from your government for what are really only tiny ruling cliques here.

He says the Islamic “threat” is an illusion.

    Islamic understandings make it haram to overcome others by force. But anyway, why do you speak of this fear of being overcome by us, when it is you who have overcome our countries. You’re occupying our countries and controlling so many aspects of our lives here! So it is foolish for you to speak of a fear of being overcome by us.

He has made a few trips to the U.S., and finds Americans “warm and welcoming,” in Helena’s words.

    There are many areas of agreement between us and Americans. We ask, what is the difference between mainstream Islam and American democracy?

He even calls for a “secular, democratic state” uniting Jews and Palestinians. I’ve been surprised before at how many Arabs are willing to support a one-state solution, with Palestinians sharing a state with Israel’s Jews—”like South Africa,” as Dr. Abul-Futouh put it—a state based on integration, rule of law, and respect for minorities. One thing is clear, this doesn’t fit the stereotype of political Islam we get from the Western media.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest opposition group, repressive laws prevent them from forming a political party, obliging them to operate in semi-clandestinity. If Egypt were to have free elections today, the Muslim Brotherhood would be likely to win the presidency and dominate the new legislature. Instead, the U.S. supports the 25-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak, which despite international protests, just sentenced 22-year-old blogger Kareem Amer to four years in prison for his writings critical of Al-Azhar Islamic university, where he was a student. Helena Cobban was in Egypt at the time, and her post on the subject has many interesting links.

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Interview With Dr. Abdel Monem Abul-Futouh
Helena Cobban, – Cairo, Egypt