Egypt, Egypt: Question

ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
edited February 2011 in Strut Central
I just posted this on my FB and thought I would see what SS opinionators/collectros/fashionistas had to say - never a dull moment when we talk politics, right? See below and please school me with whatever knowledge/bias/experience you care to share.


Such an exciting time for Egyptians.

This is an interesting Op-Ed from a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/opinion/10erian.html?hp

For me, the most critical passage is this:

"As our nation heads toward liberty, however, we disagree with the claims that the only options in Egypt are a purely secular, liberal democracy or an authoritarian theocracy. Secular liberal democracy of the American and European variety, with its firm rejection of religion in public life, is not the exclusive model for a legitimate democracy.

In Egypt, religion continues to be an important part of our culture and heritage. Moving forward, we envision the establishment of a democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which are central Islamic values. We embrace democracy not as a foreign concept that must be reconciled with tradition, but as a set of principles and objectives that are inherently compatible with and reinforce Islamic tenets."

I'm interested in learning more about what a democratic, civil state that is also theocratic (to the extent described above) would look like. Are there other examples of theocracies (Muslim, Christian, WhatevaTreva) that are free, fair and just for ALL citizens? How are the rights of people who are traditionally marginalized by a given religion's views and norms ensured?

And just to be clear, I'm asking this question genuinely but from a place of great ignorance - I'm not a political historian nor well-read on theocracy.



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  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    There is an Egypt thread already you might want to find.

    Just some random thoughts.

    Back in the 70s I read an interview with Ayatollah khomeini in Rolling Stone. He was in exile in Paris (I think it was). He spoke elegantly about Iran's desire for freedom, liberty and prosperity. It was an exciting time for Iranians.

    In Egypt the military is stable and in control. The civil government is collapsing. The military has apparently decided to allow the civil government to change. When and if a new government comes in the military will be unchanged.

    Since there is no one clear opposition leader in Egypt what a new Egypt might look like is any ones guess.

    Liberty and freedom have different meaning for different people. Economic collapse (in my opinion) is the greatest driver of the protests. People want jobs and living wages.

    Bureaucratic corruption (a common complaint) could be decreased, or streamlined, but it is not going away.

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
    Yeah, I think I've made some minor contributions to the Egpyt thread. Was hoping to get some examples of non-authoritarian theocracies that have been free/fair/just for all here.

    Thanks for your thoughts, though. Appreciated.

  • Could a person be elected President of the United States if they openly admitted to not being a Christian or not believing in Christianity?

    Technically, yes. But in reality, no.

    If a democracy existed in which the population and leaders were nominally Islamic in the same way that many in the west are nominally Christian why would that be such a problem? Not everyone is a fundamentalist.

  • Mubarak speech broadcasting live right now:


  • Horseleech said:
    Mubarak speech broadcasting live right now:


    Mubarak be equivocatin' like a motherfucker.

  • Options
    ketan said:
    Are there other examples of theocracies (Muslim, Christian, WhatevaTreva) that are free, fair and just for ALL citizens?

    I can't think of one (current or historical) and I don't think it's likely that it will ever happen.

  • motown67motown67 4,513 Posts
    The Muslim Brotherhood are the only real organized opposition group in Egypt because all the others have been banned/suppressed, etc. That being said, I don't think the Brothers have ever gotten more than just 10-20% of support in elections where they've been allowed to run, but not as members of the Broterhood.

    Overall, I would say the following about Egypt. If Mubarak is ever pushed out, he will mostly likely be replaced by another guy in the establishment, so it's out with the head man while the system will be preserved.

    As a direct answer to your question, Iraq might be an example. There are elections, there are a mix of religious and secular parties that are part of the coalition government. The Shiite religious establishment doesn't have a direct hand in running the government like in Iran, but the head Ayatollah Sistani gets consulted and visited by politicians all the time, and he and other clerics make suggestions about how things should go in very broad terms. Of couse Sunnis, which is what most of Egypt is, don't have that same type of hierarchy and organization as the Shiites.

  • pimlicosquirrel said:
    Horseleech said:
    Mubarak speech broadcasting live right now:


    Mubarak be equivocatin' like a motherfucker.

    He would have been better off not giving a speech at all rather than get people's hopes up and letting them down. He may have just hastened his exit.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    motown67 said:
    The Muslim Brotherhood are the only real organized opposition group in Egypt because all the others have been banned/suppressed, etc.

    This is news to me. The Muslim Brotherhood has not been banned/suppressed, etc.
    Why are so many members, murdered, exiled, jailed, tortured.

    Or do I just have things twisted. I know you study this stuff deeper than I ever will.

    Dan

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    ketan said:
    Yeah, I think I've made some minor contributions to the Egpyt thread. Was hoping to get some examples of non-authoritarian theocracies that have been free/fair/just for all here.

    Thanks for your thoughts, though. Appreciated.

    Religion plays a role in many countries, even it they are not called theocracies.

    The Catholic church was a major force in most European countries up till WWII. As their influence dwindled, they continued to control education and other aspects of public life, in European democracies. I don't think there is a problem calling the Vatican a theocracy. The Vatican (of course) is not a democracy.

    There are numerous Muslim democracies. The largest democracies in Asia are Indonesia, with the largest Muslim population in the world, and India, a (mostly secular) country with the 3rd largest Muslim populations in the world.

    If we are including Iraq as a Muslim democracy (as Motown suggested), we can also include, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon and others.

    My opinion is, the more you include religion in governance; the less free/fair/just for allness there will be.

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
    I get that many European/Western countries are basically Christian without formally being so. Vatican is an interesting example. How's social equity in the Vatican? But then, in the example of the U.S., where certain people (e.g., homosexuals) are still blatantly discriminated against, I get the sense that, because it's not a formal theocracy, change/justice/freedom is inevitable over time.

    I think Iraq is another excellent example - closer to what's ostensibly going to happen in the mid-term in Egypt (and vis a vis the Muslim Brotherhood) - where there may be a secular democracy in place, but where there isn't truly a separation between "church and state" because of the important/central role of religious advisiors. Would a religious advisor ever approve of something (like, again, homosexuality) that is fundamentality counter to their doctrine?

    I went to see Hitchens and Blair debate a few months back about whether "religion is a force for good in the world". Hitchens destroyed Blair, but I found it hard to argue with Blair's point that, like it or not, religion will be a major, dominating force in the world - and in critical world issues - for the forseeable future. So when a point of monumental change happens somewhere in the world (like Egypt) how can we not reflexively push away religious forces, but also ensure constitutions and governments that are fundamentally free and fair? Can there be such a thing as an equitable theocracy, whether it's explicitly theocratic or more like the Iraq or Iran situation?

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
    Horseleech said:
    pimlicosquirrel said:
    Horseleech said:
    Mubarak speech broadcasting live right now:


    Mubarak be equivocatin' like a motherfucker.

    He would have been better off not giving a speech at all rather than get people's hopes up and letting them down. He may have just hastened his exit.

    Cynical Me thinks that he pulled that shit just to rile the crowd up enough to justify a (violent, bloody) crackdown to end the protests. I'm still not sure whose side the military is on, though!

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    Seems to me the military is not supporting or opposing Mubarak. They are ok with either outcome.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    In defense of religion...
    Mahatma Gandhi, Rev Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu...

    There is nothing inherent in Islam (or any other religion) that prevents similar leaders from emerging from other religions.
    All religions teach peace, treat others as you would like to be treated and tolerance.

    It is my hope that religious leaders working towards those goals will gain more followers than the currently more popular leaders preaching hate around the world and at home.

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
    LaserWolf said:
    In defense of religion...
    Mahatma Gandhi, Rev Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu...

    There is nothing inherent in Islam (or any other religion) that prevents similar leaders from emerging from other religions.
    All religions teach peace, treat others as you would like to be treated and tolerance.

    It is my hope that religious leaders working towards those goals will gain more followers than the currently more popular leaders preaching hate around the world and at home.

    Absolutely. And that is essentially Blair's interest, as I understand it - he wants us to find ways to better engage and foster the constructive, positive aspects of religion and religious institutions.

  • motown67motown67 4,513 Posts
    The Brotherhood in Egypt is officially banned and they have had numerous members arrested, etc. On the other hand, they do operate semi-openly, they run politicians in elections, etc.

  • From the thread title I thought it was going to be about this

  • To answer the original question (or not):

    Perhaps the Ottoman Empire might be where you should look? The emperors were Caliphs starting in 1517(?) until the time of Ataturk, so I suppose that would make it a theocracy of sorts - being a very explicitly Sunni Muslim state. Granted, Christians and Jews were subject to different laws and systems (i.e. the millets and the janissaries), which may nix the ideas of justice and fairness. But, for a long time it was probably one of the better places in the world to live if you were a religious minority (unless you happened to be a Shiite or a polytheist).

    EDIT: You should also keep in mind, though, that there are very few places in the world that would have been regarded as "fair" or "just" in a modern sense of the word, up until very recently in history. Whether the oppression took the form of ethnic or religious or class or some other form of persecution, well, it's pretty much always been there.

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
    dwyhajlo said:

    EDIT: You should also keep in mind, though, that there are very few places in the world that would have been regarded as "fair" or "just" in a modern sense of the word, up until very recently in history. Whether the oppression took the form of ethnic or religious or class or some other form of persecution, well, it's pretty much always been there.

    That's a very good point!

  • FlomotionFlomotion 2,387 Posts
    ketan said:

    " Secular liberal democracy of the American and European variety, with its firm rejection of religion in public life, is not the exclusive model for a legitimate democracy.

    US/UK coalition's attempts to impose a Western model of freedom and democracy through massive military force hasn't really won them the moral high ground on this one or many admirers in ther Arab world. On the other hand, God and religion are everywhere in public and political life in the US and Europe. Your President and politicians seem to spend half their lives invoking God and pandering to the Christian vote and in the UK we have Anglican bishops sitting in parliament.

  • LordNOLordNO 202 Posts
    LaserWolf said:
    Seems to me the military is not supporting or opposing Mubarak. They are ok with either outcome.

    I think you're misreading the nature of the power structure in Egypt.

    Mubarak is a military man, so is Suleiman. The military is very likely prepared to sacrifice Mubarak, but that doesn't change the equation significantly. The question is, will the military tolerate civilian rule? That remains to be seen.

  • pcmrpcmr 5,591 Posts
    GOT THE FUCK OUT!

  • pcmr said:
    GOT THE FUCK OUT!

    wow! this is huge news...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698


    of course, the real question here is how this will impact surrounding regions, potentially galvanizing other revolutionary movements in neighboring countries. A very crucial time to say the least.

  • FrankFrank 2,386 Posts
    yeah, you can't really do much more but hope that this really is the first step towards civilan rule and that if they do end up with a civilian government that it will be a competent one...

    Meanwhile things are getting tense in Algiers as the government pulls thousands of heavily armed security forces into the capital to prepare for the announced mass demonstrations.

  • epic epic. hats off to everyone on the streets in egypt

  • This is wild. After yesterday thinking how Mubarak was being like that dude who refuses to leave. What a thing to wake up to. congrats to them. I hope the future goes well.


    Chills.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts

  • Options
    How many billions is Mubarak getting away with?

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,658 Posts
    BobDesperado said:
    How many billions is Mubarak getting away with?

  • billbradleybillbradley You want BBQ sauce? Get the fuck out of my house. 2,653 Posts
    I guess the revolution will be televised.
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