Democracy and Stoning? No Problem!

We are on the verge of a democratic revolution in Egypt. This is the Egyptian equivalent of 1989, the “Arab Spring”.

If you believe the media, that is. And progressive politicians.

And most (neo)conservatives, for that matter, at least in the United States. For them the events in Egypt are a vindication of the policies of George W. Bush, who championed freedom as a universal right.

It’s a stirring sentiment, and one feels curmudgeonly arguing against it. But let’s pause to take a deep breath here, and then look more closely at what “freedom” means to a Muslim. Diana West, in reference to the Bush Doctrine, has this to say:

Such is “universalist” gospel. Universalists believe all peoples prefer freedom to its absence, which is probably true. But they also believe all peoples define “freedom” in the same way. Is that true?

The answer — and first concept — is no. The entry on freedom, or hurriyya, in the “Encyclopedia of Islam” describes a state of divine enthrallment that bears no resemblance to any Western understanding of freedom as predicated on the workings of the individual conscience. According to the encyclopedia, Islamic freedom is “the recognition of the essential relationship between God the master and His human slaves who are completely dependent on Him.” Ibn Arabi, a Sufi scholar of note, is cited for having defined freedom as “being perfect slavery” to Allah. To put it another way, Islamic-style “freedom” is freedom from unbelief.

And what about democracy? Are Egypt and the Arab world ready for democracy?

You betcha! But it may not be the kind of democracy that the revolution’s Western cheerleaders are thinking of. Democracy means the majority gets to vote for whatever kind of rules and institutions it likes. What do the majority of Muslims want?

For an outline of what ordinary Egyptians are ready to vote for, take a look at this summary from The Globe and Mail of a Pew Research poll conducted last year in Egypt:

Poll Shows Egyptians Favour Democracy and Stoning for Adultery

Egyptians reject radical Islamists, but want Islam to play a large role in politics and think democracy is the best political system, according to poll data collected in Muslim countries last year. The sample group of 1,000 was surveyed in face-to-face interviews in April and May of last year for the U.S.-based Pew Research Center. These results give an idea of Egyptian public opinion before the current protests there broke out.

59%: Say democracy is preferable to any other form of government.
22%: Say a non-democratic system can be preferable in certain circumstances
  Islam in politics
95%: Say it’s good that Islam plays a large role in politics
85%: Say Islam’s influence on politics is good
48%: Say Islam currently play a large role in Egyptian politics
  Islamist extremism
80%: Think suicide bombings are never or rarely justified.
20%: Think suicide bombings are sometimes or often justified
70%: Are concerned or very concerned about Islamist extremism in the world
61%: Are concerned or very concerned about Islamist extremism in the Egypt
  Traditional Muslim practices
54%: Believe men and women should be segregated in the workplace
82%: Believe adulterers should be stoned
84%: Believe apostates from Islam should face the death penalty
77%: Believe thieves should be flogged or have their hands cut off

So that gives you an idea of what “freedom” and “democracy” mean to ordinary Egyptians. How well would this checklist have gone over in Philadelphia in 1787?

Sad to say, a year or two from now Hosni Mubarak will start looking pretty good.

Hat tip: TV.

14 thoughts on “Democracy and Stoning? No Problem!

  1. I’ll bet surveys in other Moslem countries would produce similar depressing results. Is anyone surprised?

    Yes,of course it’s primitive ‘democracy’,the oppressive rule of the majority, rather like the proto-democracy of the Athenians.

    That’s why the US and other Western nations have supported various ME tyrannies and have paid lip service to democratic reform because they know what sort of regime free and fair elections would produce. To many Moslems an Islamic theocracy is preferable to a secular dictatorship.

    I doubt that liberal democracy is exportable to any Moslem majority nation.

  2. Im in league with the NeoCons or Liberal Interventionist Hawks.

    There is reason to both hope and to fear.

    No guts no glory, I say.

    That doesnt mean we should be standing around with are hands in our pants.

    We need to be working the Mubarak regime and the military for organized transition, and massively supporting the secularist and liberal groups, any and all ways…covertly, funding, organizaitonal, whatever.

    Interestingly enough, Mubarak undermined the liberals and civil society, and left the MB in the backround as a scare tactic to dangle in front of liberal reformers and the West.

    Even if the worst happens, I still maintain that this is progress.

  3. Dont forget about OFEC, the Organization of Food Exporting Countries…

    Food and failed Arab states


    Even Islamists have to eat. It is unclear whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will survive, or whether his nationalist regime will be replaced by an Islamist, democratic, or authoritarian state. What is certain is that it will be a failed state. Amid the speculation about the shape of Arab politics to come, a handful of observers, for example economist Nourel Roubini, have pointed to the obvious: Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.

    Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country’s consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country. This will get worse, not better.


  4. Profitsbeard: … Islam should be segregated from Civilization.

    It already is, by well over a millennia. Any appearance of it being contemporaneous with Western culture is merely an illusion cultivated by worshipers of the Noble Savage™. Soon enough − if reality does not intervene first − Islam’s scimitar will separate them from their fantasies.

  5. EscapeVelocity: We need to be working the Mubarak regime and the military for organized transition, and massively supporting the secularist and liberal groups, any and all ways…covertly, funding, organizaitonal, whatever.

    Did you read the entire Diana West article?

    For example, Pew tells us 84 percent of Egyptians favor the death penalty for leaving Islam; 95 percent say it’s good for Islam to play a big role in politics. The Maryland/WorldOpinon poll shows that 74 percent of Egyptians favor “strict Shariah,” and that 67 percent favor a “caliphate” uniting all of Islam. In free elections, such potential pluralities might well rate as “democratic” in terms of majority rule. But would the West consider them to be “democratic” in terms of individual rights?

    Writing in the Washington Examiner, Byron York considered some of these same Egyptian data and found an apparent contradiction between the huge popularity of the death penalty for leaving Islam (“apostasy”) on the one hand, and “freedom of religion” [note: not really, as “Freedom of Religion” really means Freedom of Islam only] (90 percent) on the other. [emphasis added]

    There is insufficient material with which to construct from this Islamic dross even the slightest resemblance of a “secularist” state. Governance by the Muslim Brotherhood is a foregone conclusion.

    If we had any brains, the first full session of Egypt’s new legislature would be greeted with the arrival of several cruise missiles.

    As it is, we had best halt all sales of all military spare parts plus any training and support as we did with Iran. There will be many more similarities between these two Islamic utopias to follow.

  6. Every non-Western country figures democracy or understands democracy as their license for a tyranny of the majority.
    For them, it’s always business as usual in the orient.

  7. Click here:

    A 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl allegedly raped by a much older cousin has died after being publicly flogged for adultery, media reports said.

    Hena Begum was sentenced to receive 100 lashes by a village council made up of elders and Muslim clerics in the district of Shariatpur, about 35 miles from the capital, Dhaka, the BBC said today.

    She endured about 80 lashes before collapsing Monday, according to The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper. Her family took her to a hospital, where she died.

    “What sort of justice is this? My daughter has been beaten to death in the name of justice. If it had been a proper court then my daughter would not have died,” Dorbesh Khan, the girl’s father, told the BBC.

    Family members said Hena was raped by a 40-year-old married cousin, The Daily Star said. The man’s family beat up the teen, then accused of her adultery, the newspaper said.

    The very next day, she was sentenced to the flogging in a fatwa, or religious ruling, issued by the village council under Islamic Shariah law, the BBC said.

    Her father was also told pay a fine of about $700, police told the BBC.

    Four people, including a Muslim cleric, have been arrested in connection with Hena’s death, the BBC said. Police said they were looking for another 14 people in the case.

    Bangladesh’s high court has ordered district officials in Shariatpur to explain why they did not protect the girl, The Daily Star said. The court ruled eight months ago that Shariah punishment was illegal.

    In December, a 40-year-old woman in Rajshahi district died after she was publicly caned for allegedly carrying on an affair with her stepson.

  8. Paardestaart —

    Gates of Vienna’s ruled insist that topics must be temperate (Rule #2). This means they must include no incitements to violence, which is why I deleted your comment.


    Paardestaart said…

    Democracy for third worlders is simply getting even, and everything they want besides.
    They want to be rich, to have sharia law, to be respected, to be free ànd take vengeance on the infidel world; especially the great Satan.
    Not understanding that some wishes preclude others has a lot to do with the fact that most of them can’t read. Therefore they believe everything their wiley handlers tell them.

    These people are lost and beyond salvation.
    [incitement redacted]

  9. Well Baron, I was merely quoting..thought that everybody would recognize this line by Ann Coulter.. 🙂
    As for incitement: it is well above any individual’s capacity to invade a whole nation

  10. Paardestaart —

    I recognized it as a quote from Ann Coulter, but I’m not so sure that the earnest and humorless folks at Blogger would.

    No quotation marks, no citation of source — it was a recipe for disciplinary action by Blogger.

    Ann Coulter has lots of money and lawyers, so she can afford that sort of speech. But our lowly blog would likely disappear from cyberspace, and then you’d be off quoting the same thing at some other site.

    I have to watch my back.

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