Is Egypt about to become the new Iran?

Thursday's Editorial   —   Posted on November 29, 2012

Note: This article is from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

(by Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph) – It is not only the anti-government protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who should be concerned about President Mohammed Morsi’s audacious power grab.  Mr. Morsi’s claim at the weekend that “God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship” has echoes of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s claim during the 1979 Iranian revolution that his mission to overthrow the Shah enjoyed divine guidance.

Since his announcement that he was granting himself sweeping new powers, President Morsi has been trying to reassure skeptical Egyptian voters that he has no ambition to become Egypt’s new Pharaoh. But you only have to look at the violent scenes that have once again erupted in Tahrir Square to see that the majority of Egyptians remain unconvinced.

When Egyptian demonstrators first occupied Tahrir Square last year to call for the overthrow of Mr. Morsi’s predecessor, President Hosni Mubarak, they were calling for a secular, democratic system of government that would represent the interests of all Egyptians, and not just the corrupt clique of presidential supporters. Similar sentiments were expressed by Iranian demonstrators during the build-up to the Shah’s overthrow in February 1979 as they sought to remove a similarly corrupt regime.

But as we now know to our cost, the worthy aspirations of the Iranian masses were hijacked by Khomeini’s hardline Islamist agenda, and within months of the Shah’s overthrow Iran had been transformed into an Islamic republic.

President Morsi says he has no desire to become a dictator, but his announcement that, henceforth, all presidential decrees will be immune from legal challenge does not bode well for Egypt’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy.

I am sure I am not the only one wondering whether Mr. Morsi is about to become the new Ayatollah Khomeini.

Certainly, unless Mr Morsi backs down, all those who sacrificed their lives in the cause of the Egyptian revolution will have died in vain.

Posted at Telegraph.co.uk on November 28, 2012.  Reprinted here on November 29, 2012 for educational purposes only.

Questions

1.  Read Mr. Coughlin’s commentary, and the “Background” below the questions.  The purpose of an editorial/commentary is to explain, persuade, warn, criticize, entertain, praise, exhort or answer. What do you think is the purpose of this commentary? Explain your answer.

2.  a) Do you agree with the Mr. Coughlin’s point of view regarding President Morsi’s power grab?  Explain your answer.
b)  Ask a parent the same question.  Discuss your answers.


Background

ISLAMIC [SHARIA] LAW:

Unlike many religions, Islam includes a mandatory and highly specific legal and political plan for society called Sharia.  The precepts of Sharia are derived from the commandments of the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and precedents of Muhammad). Together, the Quran and the Sunnah establish the dictates of Sharia, which is the blueprint for the good Islamic society. Because Sharia originates with the Quran and the Sunnah, it is not optional. Sharia is the legal code ordained by Allah [the god of Islam] for all mankind. To violate Sharia or not to accept its authority is to commit rebellion against Allah, which Allah’s faithful are required to combat.

There is no separation between the religious and the political in Islam; rather Islam and Sharia constitute a comprehensive means of ordering society at every level. While it is in theory possible for an Islamic society to have different outward forms — an elective system of government, a hereditary monarchy, etc. — whatever the outward structure of the government, Sharia is the prescribed content. It is this fact that puts Sharia into conflict with forms of government based on anything other than the Quran and the Sunnah. (from jihadwatch.org/islam-101.html)

  • EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD:

    • A widespread Islamist organization founded in 1928, the Brotherhood seeks to Islamize societies from the ground up and compel governments in Muslim countries to adhere to sharia, or Islamic law.
    • At various times in its history, the group has used or supported violence and has been repeatedly banned in Egypt for attempting to overthrow Cairo’s secular government.
    • Since the 1970s, however, the Egyptian Brotherhood has disavowed violence and sought to participate in Egyptian politics. The U.S. State Department does not include the group on its list of terrorist organizations.
    • Still, the Egyptian government mistrusts the Brotherhood’s pledge of nonviolence and continues to ban the organization.
    • One reason the Brotherhood’s commitment to nonviolence is unclear: The original Egyptian organization has spawned branches in 70 countries. These organizations bear the Brotherhood name, but their connections to the founding group vary and some of them may provide financial, logistical, or other support to terrorist organizations.
    • Some terrorist groups-including Hamas, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and al-Qaeda-have historic and ideological affiliations with the Egyptian Brotherhood.
    • In addition, some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists were once Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members, including Osama bin Laden’s top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. The organization is like a “stepping stone,” says Evan Kohlmann, an international terrorism consultant. (from cfr.org/publication/9248/does_the_muslim_brotherhood_have_ties_to_terrorism.html)
  • EGYPT-ISRAEL PEACE TREATY:
    • The 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and were witnessed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
    • The main features of the treaty were the mutual recognition of each country by the other, the cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the complete withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967.
    • Egypt agreed to leave the area demilitarized.
    • The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Strait of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Taba-Rafah straits as international waterways.
    • The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel.
    • As part of the agreement, the U.S. began economic and military aid to Egypt, and political backing for its subsequent governments.
    • From the Camp David peace accords in 1978 until 2000, the United States has subsidized Egypt’s armed forces with over $38 billion worth of aid.
    • Egypt receives about $2 billion annually [from the U.S.] (from wikipedia)