Georgy Gounev - First Published by Gatestone Institute – August 2, 2012
To what extent should an Islamic leader be trusted when he proclaims his intention to act in keeping with all the requirements of a democratic political system and to respect the principles of religious and political freedom?
The ability of the American media to ignore a “politically incorrect” event, regardless of its importance, is familiar. One of the best examples is the invitation issued by President Obama to the President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, to pay an official visit to the United States during the September session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The most frequently asked question in the immediate aftermath of the presidential elections in Egypt is: To what extent should an Islamic leader be trusted when he proclaims his intention to act in keeping with all the requirements of a democratic political system? Also, how much should an Islamic leader be trusted when he promises to respect the principles of religious and political freedom?
What, for instance, is the value of the following statement: “Islamic clerics will help lead the Revolution but then they step aside to let others rule”? Or: “Criticism of the Islamic Government will be tolerated.”?
Oops..! Sorry for the mistake! Those were not the words of the newly elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. These encouraging thoughts were expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini on September 25, 1978, just four months before his triumphant return to Teheran.
What Khomeini then did is well known; there is no need to repeat it here. On August 18, 1979, however — less than a year after his pro-democracy statements — the thoughts of the powerful dictator of Iran had acquired a different direction. When he addressed the participants in the demonstrations of some disappointed former young supporters, the angry cleric issued the following warning: “I repeat for the last time: “Abstain from holding meetings, from blaspheming, from public protests. Otherwise I will break your teeth.”
On February 2, 2011, The American Thinker published an article by this author, exploring the similarities and differences between developments in Egypt and Iran. While the mainstream media was elated by what seemed a sunrise of democracy over the Nile, the article stated: “[T]he demonstrations shaking Tehran at the time and Cairo now have a clearly visible violent and Islamic component.” It also emphasized the prominent role the actions of President Obama’s administration were about to play in shaping the future political system of the most important Arab country.
As President-Elect, Mohammed Morsi promised to establish a “civil and democratic state in Egypt.” He also said he would appoint as Vice Presidents both a woman and a Christian, and assured Egyptian journalists that there would be no Islamization of the cultural life of the country. Morsi added, however, that those journalists who had published articles supporting the peace treaty with Israel would not be allowed to practice their profession.
If one again compares the Egyptian developments with the Iranian precedents, Mohamed Morsi currently is using Khomeini’s vocabulary from September of 1978. The question is: What kind of statement will he make if he reaches the degree of power Khomeini was enjoying in August of 1979?
Secretary of State Clinton proudly declared in Cairo that the United States did not have any preferences regarding the participants in the Egyptian elections. Although her announcement followed a well-established pattern of political correctness, at the same time it reflected the completely wrong strategy of the Obama administration. That policy is based on the absurd premise that by exposing Islamic Fundamentalism as the main enemy of democracy and Western civilization, American policymakers are endangering the United States more than are the actions of the Jihadists.
It was this “strategy” that contributed immensely to the electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood. Twenty-Five million out of eighty million Egyptians preferred not to vote at all; the rest of the votes were almost split between Mohamed Morsi and his main rival – General Ahmed Shafik, a close associate of former President Hosni Mubarak.
American diplomacy had a better path to follow. A definite assurance should have been given to the effect that the United States would respect the choice of the Egyptian people. At the same time, if the new Government tried to change Egypt’s political system by imposing an ideology, that discriminated against women and minorities, and that violated its peace treaty with Israel, it should not expect any support from the United States.
One of the many questions Secretary Clinton could have asked President-Elect Morsi was: “If the Brotherhood has so tightly embraced the ideals of political democracy, how is it possible that such a crucial change did not in any way affect the ideology of the organization?”
No one will be surprised that Mohamed Morsi failed to mention to Ms. Clinton that the most essential part of his fiery speech delivered in front of an enthusiastic crowd on May13, 2012 was the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: “The Koran is our constitution. The Prophet Muhammad is our leader. Jihad is our path. And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.”
Wouldn’t it be logical to expect that before issuing an invitation to Morsi to visit him at the White House, President Obama would ask his future guest how, if he believes that the country must be subjected to Islamic Law, he intends to defend the secular constitution of Egypt?
If Jihad is the path Morsi wants to follow, then how can President Obama treat him as his guest? It is understandable: Once he contributed to Morsi’s ascension to power, the President has to deal with him on the issues of international politics. This fact does not mean, however, that Mr. Obama should lay down a red carpet for him. A White House reception for Morsi will represent a huge boost to — and an endorsement of — the “gathering storm” of Islamic Fundamentalism. Weren’t the Jihadists the ones who murdered thousands of Americans, and have openly stated that one of their most important goals has always been to destroy the American political system?
If the occupant of the White House after November 2012 does not know how to say the words ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’, America will face tough times ahead not only abroad, but at home as well.
Georgy Gounev, PhD, teaches ‘The Ideology and Strategy of Radical Islam’ and is the author of the book “The Dark Side of the Crescent Moon. The Islamization of Europe and its Impact on the American-Russian Relations,” Foreign Policy Challenges LLC, Laguna Hills, 2011.