Secular Egyptian Muslims are like Christian Reconstructionists

At Discover I report some of the attitudes in Muslim nations in relation to particular crimes or infractions against social mores:

Support for harsh punishments (affirm action)
  Stone adulterers Whip & amputate hands of robbers Death penalty for apostates
Indonesia 42 36 30
Turkey 16 13 5
Egypt 82 77 84
Pakistan 82 82 76

Almost no one in the “American Taliban” would support these harsh actions as punishment for crimes. And yet the majority of Egyptians do support these barbaric laws. It is correct that a very small minority of radical American Protestants do agree with the majority of Egyptians. They’re Christian Reconstructionists. This is why I say that when one speaks of “moderate” Muslims, one may still be characterizing an individual with very conservative beliefs. It may simply be that “moderate” individuals flinch from such medieval and barbaric punishments.

There is now some concern about the power and role of the Muslim Brotherhood within Egyptian society. But the Muslim Brotherhood are no cabal of wizards with magical powers of persuasion. They reflect deep-seated attitudes spread widely in the Egyptian populace. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood does not take pride of place within a reconstructed political order, deeply retrograde religious mores will probably become even more prominent in Egyptian public life. Vox populi, vox dei.

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9 Responses to Secular Egyptian Muslims are like Christian Reconstructionists

  1. I’m surprised by how similar Egypt and Pakistan are.

  2. I happen to be reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel” at the moment, so it seems clear to me that the popularity of Muslim-Brotherhood-style fundamentalism is a trap for all sorts of people trampled by terrible political and economic systems. In a context of corruption and violence, the (apparent) rectitude of fundamentalism can seem much more appealing.

    One frightening development in recent years (despite this survey) has been the fundamentalist turn in Turkey. I wonder how far gone it is now…

  3. sg says:

    wow, stoning adulterers. I guess it is the old lady or else.

  4. Acilius says:

    I’m sure Andrew Hazlett is onto something. I wish the table were more extensive, so that we could be more sure of what. Granted, the table in the linked article includes responses to several more questions, but I’d like to see a larger number of countries, a demographic breakdown of responses within each country, and a comparison of this year’s responses with previous years’ responses.

    For example, I’d like to know whether the relatively mild range of opinion in Turkey has something to do with the fact that the Turks know that the army will allow them to vote for a (moderately) Islamist party, and will even let that party come to power.
    Maybe the prospect they might actually get what they say they want has given the Turks pause for thought, and prompted them to favor a more nuanced approach to social policy.

    So I wish we could compare Turkish responses to these questions in recent years with responses in years when the army was visibly committed to enforcing a strictly secular Kemalist state. Say we looked at what Turks were saying ten years ago and we saw a much higher number of people expressing ferocious views of what should be done to safeguard public morality than we see now. We might then turn to Indonesia and compare the responses to the same questions in 1996 and in 2001. If we saw the same pattern there and in other countries where there has been a significant lowering of barriers that keep Islam out of politics, then we might be able to form some expectations of what might happen in Egypt if they started having competitive elections there.

  5. Clark says:

    Wow. I was pessimistic and I’m still shocked by how high those are for Pakistan and Egypt. Makes me wonder how on earth we can succeed in limiting radical Islam.

  6. Polichinello says:

    Makes me wonder how on earth we can succeed in limiting radical Islam.

    Beyond strict (and sane) immigration controls, we can’t. It’ll have to limit itself by proving itself to be a failure, as is happening in Iran.

  7. Acilius says:

    “Makes me wonder how on earth we can succeed in limiting radical Islam.” Surely that depends on who you mean by “we.” We in the West can demand that our governments end policies that hurt our friends and help our enemies. If western states adopted realistic foreign policies and a rational approach to immigration they would not solve the whole problem by any means, but they might well insulate themselves from its worst effects.

  8. Leon says:

    There was another Pew poll that pointed out that majority of Egyptians are hostile to the U.S. and to Americans. The protests are organized by mostly Westernized young Egyptians and I suppose that television viewers see them as representing the Egyptian people, which is not the case.

  9. Polichinello says:

    I suppose that television viewers see them as representing the Egyptian people…

    The MB is pretty adept at knowing what western viewers want to see and hear, and showing and telling them just that. I find it funny how reporters always seem to find people who speak fluent English in a crowd of average Egyptians. Granted, English is an important international language, and there’s always a flood of tourists, but these interviewees aren’t exactly using pidgen English.

    Then you have the reporters themselves who’ve made themselves part of the story. The Nightline report last night with Terry Moran was nothing more than a cheer leading piece that could have embarrassed the old TASS with its lack of subtlety.

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