It’s still very uncertain what kind of government will end up running Egypt since dictator Hosni Mubarak’s ouster by popular uprising.
One obvious concern is that Muslim fundamentalists along the lines of those who prevailed in Iran in 1979 may yet end up running the land of the pharaohs.
With all due respect, Project 21 member Council Nedd II tends to differ with many conservatives, saying that his friends and experiences tell his that — at least in Egypt — the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood has less standing than perceived. Fixating on them, Council suggests, only legitimizes the group and helps the radicals get a firmer toehold into the transition process.
I still maintain friendships with Egyptians I met during past visits there. Knowing them and speaking with them about their recent revolution, I am dismayed when my conservative friends fixate on the threat of a monolithic uprising of Muslim fundamentalism in the Middle East.
As a black conservative, I know I do not speak for the whole of the black community any more than Jesse Jackson represents the views of all blacks. However, I do firmly believe that some of my conservative ideas resonate with various parts of black America for varied reasons. By the same token, I have heard Jesse Jackson say things that I have not totally disagreed with.
With that in mind, it is my belief that conservatives may be doing themselves a disservice by fixating on entities such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
In policy debate terms, the events in Tunisia were a spark — one event that caused a chain of events to occur. But they are not mirror images of each other. While Tunisia, Libya and Egypt are neighbors, their internal political issues, culture and the ethos of the people in these countries couldn’t be more different. When you throw Saudi Arabia into the mix, the commonalities shrink that much more.
The only real commonality is the fact that the majority of the residents of these countries are Muslim — but they often practice their shared religion in different ways.
Controversy is the fuel of talk radio. However, if the goal of my fellow conservatives is to ensure that there are friendly governments in that region when the dust has settled, fueling the fires of a speculative Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the Middle East is not the way to go about dealing with the problem.
When I talk to my Egyptian friends, they think it’s funny that all Americans seem to focus on is the Muslim Brotherhood. And the American obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood is, in fact, giving the group more life.
Let me draw an analogy to Haiti and the Tonton Macoute. Tonton Macoute, or Uncle Gunnysack, was an evil creature in Haitian lore that snatched kids and threw them in his satchel to consume later. The dictatorship of the Duvaliers gave life, substance and power to this bogeyman by calling its secret police by the same name.
The American hysteria over the Muslim Brotherhood, coupled with African and Asian concerns about U.S. hegemony, is giving substance and form to the Muslim Brotherhood that it would not normally have had.
Archbishop Council Nedd II is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church.