Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi prays at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.(REUTERS/Handout)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi prays at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

On the Road to Sharia Law

December 16, 2012  •  From
After the first round of a two-stage vote, it looks like a majority of Egyptians favor the new Islamist-backed constitution.

When President Mohamed Morsi virtually appointed himself pharaoh of Egypt on November 22, demonstrations broke out across the nation. Thousands of secularists and liberals stormed the neighborhood outside Morsi’s palace, protesting the audacious power grab. They were met by thousands of Islamists who fought back in support of Morsi’s absolute rule. Cries of “no to dictatorship” were met with chants from the Islamists: “Defending Morsi is defending Islam.”

Then, after two and a half weeks of political turmoil and riots on the streets, Morsi rescinded his controversial decree. Under heavy pressure from the Arab street, we were told, Morsi backed down.

But this was hardly an act of conciliation or compromise from Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood. As columnist Andrew McCarthy wrote, “Morsi grabbed the reins with a shrewd caveat: His dictatorship would end once the draft constitution was approved by Egyptians in a national referendum—which is to say, once the dictatorship had served its purpose” (National Review, December 1; emphasis added throughout).

As it turns out, Morsi rescinded his decree a few days before Egyptians voted in a referendum on the new constitution draft. Thanks to his 17-day dictatorship, that draft was a sharia-based constitution—exactly what he wanted, and without any interference from the Egyptian courts.

The dictatorship had served its purpose.

“In the end, Morsi got everything he wanted,” author and activist Bassem Sabry told the Times of Israel. “He protected the constituent assembly, the draft constitution and rammed into a referendum when people will have no time to study it against what he had promised before, which is that the document won’t be put into a referendum without sufficient national consensus.”

McCarthy wrote, “In effect, Morsi has used the West’s democracy fetish to put a gun to his population’s head: Either democratically approve anti-democratic sharia or accept the sharia-compliant rule of your democratically elected Islamist despot.”

The Strategy for Sharia

From the beginning, the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy has always been to impose sharia law. That’s the real dictatorship here—not Mohamed Morsi. Instating Islamic law as the new constitution has always been the Brotherhood’s top prize. It knew that if it could just force a sharia-based draft through the assembly and past the courts and subject it to a vote, a majority of Egyptians would most likely approve it. It didn’t matter how many freedom-lovers took the streets in protest—what mattered was sidestepping the rest of the government and getting to the national vote.

This has been the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy from the beginning. As soon as Mubarak was run out of town, it was the Brotherhood—and the White House, by the way—that pushed for free elections sooner rather than later. That’s because the Brotherhood had the best-organized, most popular party in Egypt.

McCarthy wrote,

The Brothers are no fools. They realized that rapidly held elections would favor them, and if they won big, they’d have a hammerlock on the constituent assembly that would write the constitution. They also grasped the disdain in which the West, under progressive regimes, holds military governments. … The Brotherhood knew the U.S. and the EU would be similarly—and self-destructively—supportive of a call for quick elections that would pressure Egypt’s reigning military junta to cede authority to a “democratic” civilian government.

Consequently, the Brothers insisted that parliamentary and presidential elections could proceed promptly if the public just approved a handful of amendments to the current constitution, with a new constitution to be drafted afterwards.

That’s exactly what happened. In the country’s historic first free elections, the Muslim Brotherhood’s amendments were adopted by a landslide. The amendments referendum in early 2011 perfectly foreshadowed what happened in parliamentary elections soon after—with supporters of the Brotherhood and its radical allies thumping secular democrats by almost a four-to-one margin.

The courts later declared the results of the parliamentary elections unlawful. But the Brotherhood would not be deterred from executing its Islamist agenda. After promising not to field an Islamist candidate for president, it reversed course and put Morsi on the ballot. And he won!

Prior to the presidential election in June, Egypt’s military court thrust the political process into chaos when it dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament. At the time, we said this power struggle between the Brotherhood and the military might continue for a few months, but that it was only a matter of time before Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood gained enough strength to transform Egypt into a radical Islamist state.

The power struggle with the military barely lasted two months. In August, Morsi fired his top military chiefs and replaced them with Brotherhood loyalists, a move that locked in Egypt’s transformation into an Islamist state.

The Brotherhood already controlled the assembly responsible for drafting the constitution. The only remaining roadblock to applying Islamic law in Egypt was the judicial branch. And so, with his November 22 decree, Morsi put himself above the law just long enough for the assembly to hurriedly finalize the constitution.

Morsi had no incentive to back down, McCarthy wrote, “because he is doing what he was put there to do, and he has little to fear. He has already faced down the remnants of Mubarak’s armed forces and replaced them with Brotherhood loyalists—a ragtag collection of Facebook malcontents does not faze him. He also knows the national referendum on the new constitution will go the same way as the original referendum on constitutional amendments: Sharia will win going away.”

Of course, the Western media will try to put a positive spin on these earthshaking developments. They’ve done that from the start. Since the revolution began in February 2011, reporters have tried to make it look like the Egyptian population is teeming with secular democrats. The reality, though, is that radical Islam is the predominant ideology in Egypt. Most Egyptians want strict Islamic rule.

And they’re about to get it. You can expect Western commentators to continue their defense of Morsi by saying things like the principles of sharia is not the same thing as sharia.

But that’s just willful blindness. It’s McCarthy who’s right: Sharia will win going away.

(Note: The rest of this article will appear in the February print edition of the Trumpet magazine. You can subscribe here.)

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