Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Egypt and the Future of Religious Liberty in the Middle East

While many in our nation are rejoicing over the uprising in the Middle East, I'm quite worried. What is the future of religious liberty in Egypt? It hasn't been great in the past, but it's a place where it was possible to be a practicing Christian. Will it be much harder in the near future?

In spite of his obvious problems, Pres. Mubarak was an ally of the United States and a supporter of the peace with Israel. Can we throw him under the bus so readily? He oversaw and helped preserve decades of peace and some degree of religious toleration. Is there any chance that such conditions will remain under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood? Is it so difficult to see that under the influence of Iran and other Islamic extremists, that the vacuum created by Mubarak's fall will be used by radical forces that may threaten Israel and perhaps even us? Are we really supposed to trust the Muslim Brotherhood in spite of their ties to Hamas and terrorists of the past, and their stated goal of establishing Shariah law? Abandoning the Shah of Iran in favor of the radical Khomeini was one of our most tragic foreign policy crimes ("blunder" is far too generous a word). Will the new Egypt be a puppet of Iran?

Iran is gloating over the events in Egypt, while Israel is worried and disturbed by the position the U.S. has taken. After all, they couldn't help but notice a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood calling for war against Israel. The Coptic Christians in Egypt--yes, Christians in a Middle Eastern nation--are worried about their future. We should be too. Will peace be threatened? Will religious liberty be further eradicated? These are fair questions to ask.

Pray that there might be peace and genuine liberty in Egypt. The imagery of looting, destruction, and calls for war and vengeance don't bode well for the future, though. Yes, idealistic young students yearning for liberty and opportunity have been involved--a group that is not too difficult to manipulate, especially in times of economic distress. I fear that many of them will be surprised at what rises from the ashes they create.

17 comments:

Nathan said...

Thanks Jeff. Good post. I have been wondering which way this will result for Christianity in general, but also for the LDS church. This can go at least two ways in my mind:

1. Christianity prevails and the LDS church is eventually able to come in, set up stakes and wards, send in missionaries, build temples, and bring the doctrines, principles, and ordinances to the Egyptian people (much like has happened with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Germans).

or...

2. Egypt lets the MB take over, Shariah law exists in Egypt, Christians are targeted for extermination, Egypt aligns with Hamas, Iran, etc. and the entire Middle East begins to seek the destruction of Israel - which in my mind would drastically usher in the prophesied event:

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Zech. 14:2

It will be interesting to see where we go from here in the world...

Jacob S. said...

All the reports I'm hearing and reading are that the Muslim Brotherhood is not at all likely to take power, and that Egyptians are not going to support a fundamentalist government.

In any case, we should be more worried about supporting democracy and human rights than a dictator who might have provided some "stability." It is a fundamental human right to be free to self-govern, and if the Egyptian people are ready to do that we should not hesitate to support them.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Yeah, all the mainstream media reports seem remarkably aligned, even on script: the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing to fear, they are pro-democracy and just a minor player, this is a spontaneous popular uprising by people seeking freedom. And Shariah law? Never hear of it. Not much real journalism, IMHO.

Joshua said...

Good post.

We can trust the Bible. Daniel 11:7,8,11,43 seem to indicate that Egypt will be a very powerful country in the time leading up to the return of Christ Jesus. Would it be easy for a nation to become powerful in our modern world without allowing religious liberty?

Given that it is not currently very powerful, these changes might not be unwanted (depending on whose side we are on).

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Jeff, please tell us where you are getting your 'real journalism' so we can all get what you are alluding to.

Jeff Lindsay: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Lindsay: said...

Real journalism looks past the talking points that they are handed and asks real questions, like what is the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are these groups that are behind the uprising, and what is their end goal?

After many days of conservative voices speaking out and being ignored on these issues, I'm pleased to now point to a slight hint of real but belated journalism from a source you might accept, the New York Times, finally dropping a hint about who the organizers are. The NYT is gleeful about the source, of course, while the rest of us should be concerned.

See "Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt" by David Kirkpatrick, February 9, 2011, New York Times:

In the process many have formed some unusual bonds that reflect the singularly nonideological character of the Egyptian youth revolt, which encompasses liberals, socialists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I like the Brotherhood most, and they like me,” said Sally Moore, a 32-year-old psychiatrist, a Coptic Christian and an avowed leftist and feminist of mixed Irish-Egyptian roots. “They always have a hidden agenda, we know, and you never know when power comes how they will behave. But they are very good with organizing, they are calling for a civil state just like everyone else, so let them have a political party just like everyone else — they will not win more than 10 percent, I think.”

Many in the circle, in fact, met during their university days. Islam Lotfi, a lawyer who is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, said his group used to enlist others from the tiny leftist parties to stand with them in calling for civil liberties, to make their cause seem more universal. Many are now allies in the revolt, including Zyad el-Elaimy, a 30-year-old lawyer who was then the leader of a communist group.


Looks like the groups behind this may have an agenda not necessarily aligned with freedom. Pray that their agenda is defeated by some forces for genuine liberty, but it's a dangerous time. Mubarrak was a brutal crook--but there are even worse things that some folks conspire to bring upon others.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

If we have a one-man, one-vote, one-time government in Egypt that establishes Shariah law, drives out Christians, and seeks war with Israel, will you say that we did the right thing in supporting the revolution?

Surely there are better ways to get rid of a bad dictator than replacing him with a radical dictatorship?

This revolution will spread to further nations. We need to understood who's fueling it and what their agenda is. The so-called journalists seem too busy telling us how wonderful it is to watch history unfold and assuring us that the Muslim Brotherhood is totally not a problem.

Anonymous said...

Michael Gaynor weighs in: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/gaynor/110209.

dovh49 said...

Jeff, you should stop watching Glenn Beck.

Did we not have similar fears in this country when we revolted against England? Could we have made a king? Yes. The people of Egypt must trust in God and hope for the best. Could they have a puppet government from Iran? Maybe. Would it be better than the previous puppet government supported by the US? I don't know. It is their right to rule themselves and if they choose to support a government that is built on Muslim law than that is their choice. Utah chooses to live under Mormon law, why can't Arabs choose to live under sharia law?

As for driving Christians out look at the war on Iraq made by the US. More Christians were expelled or killed because of this war than if we had let them live their own lives and overthrow Hussein themselves.

BTW, we must remember who put most of these tyrants in place to begin with. The US did. We put the Iranian leader in power, Hussein in power, the Taliban in power, etc.

It's time for us to stop meddling in foreign affairs (the founding fathers were right) and trade freely with the world to create true and lasting peace.

A good book to read on the subject would be the "5000 Year Leap" on the principle Principle 25 - "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations -- entangling alliances with none."

Anonymous said...

dovh49,
You tell Jeff to stop watching GB but suggest he read Cleon Skousen ??
From what I have seen, they both can not do quality research and are equally guilty in not knowing what they are talking about.

dovh49 said...

I take that which is good. I may disagree with him on some parts and agree with him on others.

There's very little that I agree with Beck. Although I do agree with some things that Beck says. Beck just isn't very principled so he's not worth listening to. Besides, I wouldn't call Beck not MSM, he is definitely MSM and Jeff was saying we should listen to alternatives to the MSM and then he goes into an MSM meme. If he wants non MSM then shows like "The Corbett Report" (http://www.corbettreport.com) would be way more non MSM. If he wants ideologically pure then he should go to mises dot org, etc.

Don said...

As a nation, as a people, we should indeed be on the side of the people, of democracy, of religious freedom. We should stop supporting corrupt dictators and meddling in the affairs of other countries. And "real journalism" is more than just stuff you agree with. I generally enjoy what you write, but I think you're a little weak here.

dovh49 said...

Thanks to Western rule since WWI, this is a region of dictators and domination. Regardless of the spark, that is the issue. This might just be an old story and exactly what it appears to be: a struggle between the liberty of the people and the criminal power of the state.

Somehow, however, this is not obvious to many conservatives. Never mind that the people are denouncing the dictators, the jails, the political persecutions, the torturing and brutality, the disappearances and murders, and demanding the freedom to speak, publish, and live. Surely there must be some nefarious plot behind it all....

...Anyone who loves Jefferson, Bastiat, and Rothbard had to feel a mighty rush, a sense that the flame of freedom will never, ever be extinguished. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere, including in Washington, DC....

Just as commentators and intellectuals have trouble understanding liberty as a theme in domestic politics, some people just can't get it in foreign policy. I noticed a strange lack of celebration on many conservative blogs and sites. There is far more handwringing about "instability" than cheers for the people.

If the Egyptian case is any indication, we can look forward to more fretting and puzzling and even opposition from the American Right. The angst-filled view on Egypt began with Glenn Beck, the most influential voice on the tea-party Right, a man who last year celebrated Hayek's Road to Serfdom and put it on the bestseller list.

In a YouTube video, he warned that these revolts were not what they seemed. They are really the working out of a conspiracy of Muslim fanatics insufficiently appreciative of the US-installed and maintained dictator. It was shockingly clear: he supported the regime over the people, the US empire over self-determination. From his account, one would think that a protest for liberty was terrorism. Which may give us some indication of what terrorism means to him and others like him....

...Ann Coulter at CPAC, who expressed no love for the Egyptian people. She was specifically asked about the reality that the Mubarak regime was jailing journalists. Her response: "I think there should be more jailed journalists." The audience cheered....

In holding these opinions, the conservatives are echoing the same absence of joy found in the regimes of Algeria, Libya, and Morocco — other governments that are wholly owned by the CIA and worry about what a freedom uprising would mean for them.

For many people on the Right, Islam is the new communism — the bugaboo that we must fear above all else. They see its wickedness everywhere. It's gone so far that many people cannot recognize the just aspirations of an Islamic people to be free of dictatorship. The message of Beck, Coulter, and others seems to be that the best thing for these people is US-imposed totalitarianism.

It is true that freedom is not certain to bloom in the postprotest world. Sometimes freedom comes in stages. Sometimes a worse regime can replace a bad one. But it is always an occasion to celebrate when the tyrant is overthrown. It is always a blow for liberty — no matter that the brutal state in question is officially supported by the US government.

For some 60 years, there has been a deep fissure in what is called the American Right. There are those who believe in liberty. And there are those who believe in the American imperial state.


See http://mises.org/daily/5055/Conservatives-versus-Freedom

J said...

dovh49 its funny that you tell Jeff to stop listening to Glenn Beck but you encourage him to listen to Cleon Skousen.

I have a very strong hunch that you listen to Ron Paul as well. You should stop listening to him too. That man doesn't know what he's talking about either.

dovh49 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dovh49 said...

J,

You should read all the posts before commenting on a single comment. I've already addressed this issue.

I've also addressed why he shouldn't listen to Glenn Beck and what alternatives he can listen to.

You are just calling names. Poor form J.