Bleeding on the left and the right, the Brotherhood is moving to the middle for the Nov. 28 parliamentary election. It is talking less about God and more about earthly matters — curbing corruption, increasing the minimum wage, and starting labour-intensive public projects, while ending state monopolies to lure private investment. It is promising equality for the Copts and pledging to honour the peace treaty with Israel.
This has prompted Washington to establish contact with the Brotherhood. And it left its critics with a tame argument: the Islamists’ soothing words are fine but can they be trusted? That sounds pretty much like the standard liberal campaign complaint in western democracies about the hidden agenda of the conservatives.
The real enemy in the Middle East, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is still authoritarianism. Dictators can only provide a false sense of security.
The most heartening examples of interreligious harmony have come from recent mass-based democratic movements. Iran’s democratic protests in 2009 were repeatedly punctuated by courageous slogans of, “We are all Bahais.” In Syria, Christians and Alawites are part of the resistance against Assad. In Egypt, Muslims and Copts are waging the democratic struggle in the interreligious spirit of Tahrir Square.
In contrast, the Egyptian interim military regime has been lax in arresting and prosecuting anti-Copt criminals, and its security services killed 22 unarmed Copts recently. It has invoked the draconian Mubarak-era emergency laws to convict nearly 12,000 people, of all faiths, in military courts. It has postponed presidential elections to hang on to power until at least late next year.
The sooner it goes and ushers in democracy, in which all citizens would be equal, the sooner the process of reconciliation can get underway.What utter Utopian tommyrot! Once the MuBros come to power, you can be sure they will be every bit as authoritarian as, say, the oily Wahhabis and Iran's mullahs, because that's the way by-the-book, mosque-and-state Muslim fundamentalists roll--the only way they roll.