Bad News from Egypt

Pew Research carried this editorial on April 27:

The media sold the Cairo riots as the birth pangs of “democracy” in the Mideast. Egyptians yearn for our style of “freedom,” we were told. But a new survey of their attitudes shreds that story line.

According to the Pew Research Center, 89% of Egyptians say a post-Mubarak government “should follow the values and principles of Islam.” And 62% want laws to enforce Shariah – the barbaric legal code practiced in much of the Mideast.

This may come as quite a jolt to the romantics in the Western press who expected liberalism to flower from Tahrir Square. But we’re not the least surprised.

Pew’s poll – based on 1,000 face-to-face interviews with Egyptian adults in April – merely confirms a similar one last spring. As we noted during the riots, Pew found that 84% favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith; 82% support stoning adulterers; and 77% think thieves should have their hands cut off.

Pew didn’t ask such questions this time around.

But it did ask what Egyptians thought of the U.S. and Israel. Despite the Obama administration’s support for their uprising and the media’s glorification of it (while enduring beatings and even gang rapes), nearly 8 in 10 Egyptians still hate us.

Egyptian views on Israel are starker: a solid majority wants to return to war footing against the Jewish nation. By 54% to 36%, Egyptians say a new government should tear up the peace treaty with Israel.

So who do they like? Fully 75% of Egyptians expressed a favorable view of the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

The well-organized Brotherhood, previously outlawed by Mubarak, is in the best position to take advantage of the prevailing sentiment recorded by Pew.

Running under the newly formed “Freedom and Justice” party, the Brotherhood seeks to replace the old regime in this September’s elections and instate Islamic law. Its platform bars women and Christians from the presidency. It also establishes a board of Muslim clerics (read: mullahs) to oversee the government.

Earlier this month, Brotherhood officials called for the creation of a virtue police to crack down on “those who commit immoral acts.” It’s aimed largely at women who refuse to cover their heads in public.

Pew found that gender equality and religious freedom aren’t top priorities for Egyptians. Only a third think it’s important for women to have the same rights as men or for Coptic Christians to practice their faith freely. Since Mubarak’s ouster, churches in Egypt have been firebombed, and Christians slaughtered in the street.

All those pundits and politicians who cheered on the rioters against the secular, pro-American Mubarak should have been more careful what they wished for.

The Pew poll confirms that Egyptians were revolting against Western-style democracy. If so, we may face another Mideast regime violently at odds with U.S. policy.


4 responses to “Bad News from Egypt

  1. Does anyone recall why it is Canadian planes and pilots are doing things in Libya?

    • They have no business backing one side or another in an internal (tribal?) civil war which outsiders don’t understand, but they are surely usefully employed if they can help dispose of Gaddafi, which seems to take longer than expected but is definitely a worthwhile undertaking.

  2. This is a bizarre editorial. It is fair enough to note that the Egyptian people are not supporters of Western-style human rights. It is another thing to say that a revolt against a corrupt dictatorial ruler who happened to align with some Western political interests was a revolt against Western-style democracy. They didn’t have that, in case Pew didn’t notice.

    It’s a challenge for us to promote power to the people when the people want to use the power for things we don’t like.

    Recent history has shown us the risks of destabilizing regimes we don’t like (to say nothing of the international law against such activities). What comes after may be worse. But when the destabilizing activity comes from within (and no one except President Khadaffi thinks that the revolts are being inspired from outside all these countries), it’s harder for us to do anything about it.

    If the people of Egypt “hate us” (meaning the U.S. in particular, but possibly extending to places of Western culture), it may have something to do with aligning with their oppressors for decades, as much as for our liberties.

    • You are right, of course. The test case was Hamas, which we flunked. Let’s see what happens now that they seem to be merging with Fatah.