Reviewing several dispatches from the past couple of days, the latest news out of Egypt is that Egyptian “President” Mohammed Morsi “is not backing down in the showdown over decrees granting him near-absolute powers,” that “clashes between the two camps (Morsi’s Islamist supporters and secular opponents) … left two dead and hundreds injured,” and that the country’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated assembly “pushed through the 234-article draft (constitution) in just 21 hours from Thursday into Friday … (after) Coptic Christians and liberals earlier had walked out.”
The draft constitution includes several articles “that rights activists, liberals and Christians fear will lead to restrictions on the rights of women and minorities,” and omits “bans on slavery or promises to adhere to international rights treaties.” Oh, and I almost forgot: “The Obama administration is declining to criticize Egypt’s draft constitution.” It’s worth identifying at this point several (but by no means all; what follows is surely a small sample) of those who in 2011 reassured the world that Egyptians had nothing to fear if the Brotherhood and Islamists became dominant.
At Reuters on January 29, 2011, Security Correspondent William Maclean relayed the insistence of Kamel El-Helbawy, “an influential cleric in the international Islamist ideological movement,” that those who feared the Brotherhood were in essence engaging in paranoia: “The West is always afraid that if the Brotherhood came to power it would end freedoms or do something (negative) with Israel. But I stress that the Brotherhood are among the people who defend democracy in full, and like to see democracy prevailing, because democracy gives them some of their rights.”
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