Two weeks ago, when the outcome of the revolution in Egypt was still in doubt, abc correspondent Christiane Amanpour confronted then Vice President Omar Suleiman about the Egyptian “crackdown” on protesters in Tahrir Square. She said supporters of the regime had fired gunshots into the crowd of protesters.
“Do you deny that pro-Mubarak forces or pro-Mubarak loyalists killed protesters in the square?” Amanpour asked.
Suleiman denied the allegation without hesitation. “Nobody [is] being killed by rifles or by snipers. No way,” he said.
Amanpour offered this bit of evidence to support her claim: “We saw people on horseback, on camels.”
Indeed, who can forget the dramatic footage from day eight of the crisis, when Hosni Mubarak—a powerful dictator who used Egypt’s military might, we were told, to brutally suppress and even torture his own people—unleashed a cavalcade of camel-riding, stick-wielding combatants to gain control of the situation.
It’s a scene that didn’t exactly fit within the Mubarak-is-a-dangerous-lunatic narrative, but the media tried to make it work anyway. In the end, given the size of the revolt, the power of Mubarak’s army and the reputation he had as an oppressive tyrant, one wonders why he didn’t use more force to quell the rioting.
Even President Obama, after the dust had settled on the revolution, acknowledged that the transformation had been relatively peaceful with “little violence.”
During the crisis, however, every effort was made to expose acts of brutality by the regime while downplaying the violence of the anti-government protesters. This is why little was made of the widespread looting and numerous prison breaks early on, while there was extensive coverage for acts of violence aimed at journalists. These threats, beatings and abductions, we were told, were always carried out by the regime—certainly not the anti-government movement. The demonstrators only wanted their voices to be heard.
Notice how President Obama described the scenes of jubilation many observed on television screens last Friday:
We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya”—“We are peaceful”—again and again.
We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
We saw people of faith praying together and chanting—“Muslims, Christians, We are one.”
What we didn’t see amid all the merrymaking was the angry rage of about 200 Arab men who attacked a cbs reporter and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. According to the New York Post, the hate-filled mob shouted Jew! Jew! while molesting the woman for 20 to 30 minutes. A group of Egyptian soldiers then intervened to save the woman’s life.
Thus, one of the most, if not the most, horrific incidents of the entire Egyptian upheaval happened during the celebration honoring Mubarak’s fall from power.
But don’t expect this disgusting act of brutality, or any other facts on the ground, to lift the veil that’s covering the eyes of Western romantics who view the revolt as a garden-variety democratic uprising led by freedom-seekers yearning for modernity.
This, they say, is good for the Middle East. It’s good for America.
“What we’ve seen so far is positive,” President Obama insisted at a press conference on Tuesday. “I think history will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt that we were on the right side of history” (emphasis mine throughout).
Later, in response to criticism about flip-flopping his position during the crisis, the president said his support for the protesters had been consistent from the start: “I started talking about reform two weeks or two and a half weeks before Mr. Mubarak ultimately stepped down. And at each juncture I think we calibrated it just about right.”
He even claimed some of the credit for Mubarak’s expulsion, saying one reason for the “peaceful” transition was America’s consistent support for the anti-regime movement!
Meanwhile, in the days that have followed Mubarak’s resignation, a massive wave of instability and violence swept across North Africa and the Middle East. Deadly clashes erupted in Iran, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain. In Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah called on Hezbollah terrorists to prepare for invading the Galilee in northern Israel. In the Sinai Peninsula, Bedouin gangs emboldened by the chaos in Cairo have escalated attacks against police forces, prompting Israel to call upon Egypt’s military to rein in the violence.
There have also been conflicting reports about the possibility of Iran sending two naval vessels through the Suez Canal. This “clear provocation,” to use the words of Israel’s foreign minister, has raised fears in Jerusalem that Iran may be maneuvering to capitalize on the instability in Egypt. Iran, by the way, hasn’t had a naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea since the Islamic Revolution toppled the shah’s regime in 1979.
Then there is Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which views itself as the guardian of true Islam. Throughout the Egyptian crisis, the Brotherhood kept quiet as its Western apologists defended the movement, saying it was not extremist or violent and that there was no connection between the organization and Iran or al Qaeda or the Taliban, and so on. The Washington Post even said the Brotherhood received its inspiration from the ymca! And then there was the preposterous claim made by America’s director of national intelligence—that the Egyptian branch of the Brotherhood was “largely secular.”
Now that Mubarak is out of the way, the Brotherhood’s true colors have quickly resurfaced. On Tuesday, Der Spiegel published an exposé on Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the “father figure” of the Muslim Brotherhood. Back in 2002, the Brotherhood asked Qaradawi to be its leader, but he turned down the offer because of its limitations. He wanted to concentrate instead on mobilizing a “United Muslim Nations.”
The charismatic Qaradawi, an Egyptian by birth, is one of the most popular Muslim clerics in the Middle East. He’s written at least 100 books and his weekly television program is viewed by 60 million Muslims on Al-Jazeera. He hates Jews and has asked Allah to kill “every last one” of them. In 2009, he said,
Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them—even though they exaggerated this issue—he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.
Since 1981, Mubarak has banned Qaradawi from preaching in Egypt. During his exile, Qaradawi has been based in Qatar.
Today, Qaradawi is making his triumphant return to Egypt. Incredibly, he will receive a military escort to Cairo’s Tahrir Square—the focal point of the anti-government uprising—in order to deliver a Friday prayer sermon. Columnist Barry Rubin writes,
The massing of hundreds of thousands of people in the square to hear Islamic services and a sermon by a radical Islamist is not the kind of thing that’s been going on under the 60-year-old military regime that was recently overthrown.
The context is also the thanking of Qaradawi for his support of the revolution, an implication that he is somehow its spiritual father. …
Have no doubt. It is Qaradawi, not bin Ladin, who is the most dangerous revolutionary Islamist in the world, and he is about to unleash the full force of his power and persuasion on Egypt.
It boggles the mind to think that just one month ago, Egypt was seen as a bastion of strength and stability in a region known for its restiveness and division.
It’s amazing how fast prophetic events are now unfolding in the Middle East.
President Obama told Fox News on February 6 that the United States shouldn’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood. He said the Brotherhood doesn’t have a majority of support in Egypt. But this doesn’t square with a Pew Research Center poll conducted just last year. According to the survey, 95 percent of Egyptians want religion to play a larger role in politics, 84 percent favor the death penalty for people who abandon the Muslim faith, and 54 percent believe suicide bombings aimed at civilians can be justified!
As Investor’s Business Daily recently noted, the Obama administration and its allies in the media have it exactly backward. Egyptians are not seeking a Western-style democracy. They are revolting against it. “They want an Islamic theocracy.”
Mubarak understood this, which is why he wanted to stay in office long enough to have a hand in setting up Egypt’s new government. As he told President Obama on February 3, “You don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.”
A week later, after putting up relatively little resistance against the uprising, Mubarak reportedly said this on the eve of his resignation: “They may be talking about democracy, but … the result will be extremism and radical Islam.”
Today, just seven days after Mubarak fled Cairo for Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt is celebrating the homecoming of a wildly popular, radical extremist who prays for the extermination of Jews, approves of wife-beating and supports suicide bombings that target defenseless civilians. ▪