Friday, September 28, 2012

The Egyptian President: Respect the Arab World

As President Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy “comes home to roost” and he retreats to the safety of TV talk show couches, Egypt’s new president presses his advantage. Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now demanding a fundamental change (sound familiar, Obama?) in the way the United States relates to Egypt.

In an interview with The New York Times prior to his first trip to the U.S., Morsi said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world, specifically with Egypt. America must change its approach to the Arab world, show greater respect for its values, and help build a Palestinian state, to atone for decades of pent-up Arab anger caused by our support for autocratic Middle Eastern regimes like that of the deposed Hosni Mubarak in Egypt: “Successive American administrations,” Morsi said, “essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region.”

So all the recent anti-American violence against U.S. embassies in the region is our fault. It’s no surprise that Morsi, who seems comfortable speaking on behalf of the Arab world, wouldn’t apologize on their behalf as well. Apologizing might be Obama’s go-to diplomatic strategy, but that’s not the Arab way. Blaming others is.

Morsi shrugged off criticism that he didn’t come down hard or quick enough on the Cairo protesters who recently hoisted the black flag of Islam over the U.S. embassy: “We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely,” he said, adding that the embassy employees were never in danger. How reassuring.

He went on to describe the post-Arab Spring nature of his country: “Egypt now is a real civil state. It is not theocratic, it is not military. It is democratic, free, constitutional, lawful and modern.” Nothing in that sentence after the word “Egypt” is true. A Muslim Brotherhood regime is by definition theocratic. Egypt is militarizing and preparing for war with Israel. The state is not democratic, free, constitutional, lawful or modern in the way that we understand those words.

But Morsi isn’t a member of the Brotherhood anymore, you say? Here is what he told the NY Times:

I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It’s in his blood. Yet Morsi sees “absolutely no conflict” between his loyalty to that fundamentalist, supremacist organization and his responsibility to govern on behalf of all Egyptians, regardless of religion, sex or class. That must be very reassuring to that country’s Coptic Christians, against whom genocide is being waged.

Asked if he considers the United States an ally, Morsi joked, “That depends on your definition of ally.” He said he does envision our two nations as “real friends.” But the U.S. must respect the Arab world’s history and culture, Morsi demanded, even when that conflicts with Western values. Islamic fundamentalists always demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T but don’t bother reciprocating; they don’t respect our culture or values like human rights, free speech, separation of church and state, women’s rights, religious freedom, and so forth. Remember, Morsi himself said, in condemnation of the controversial film trailer The Innocence of Muslims, that the Muslim prophet Muhammad “is a red line nobody can touch.” If it were up to him, no one, Egyptian or American, would enjoy Western freedoms.

Arabs and Americans, he continued, have “a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion.” That’s debatable, but in any case that’s not the Brotherhood’s ultimate objective, which is the elimination of Western civilization and the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. Morsi went on to say that he hopes for our “harmonious, peaceful coexistence.” Sounds great! And how can we achieve such harmony? By submitting to Islam and conforming to sharia law, of course.

He added that the U.S. should not expect Egypt to live by its standards:

If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment. When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.

Finally, some truth. He is right to acknowledge that our cultures and values don’t mesh. There can be no common ground between us and any regime in the grip of Islamic totalitarianism, just as there hasn’t been any between the U.S. and the Iranian mullahs since 1979. Such regimes are fundamentally hostile to Americans and American interests, and so – Prius bumper stickers notwithstanding – peaceful coexistence is impossible.

He also argued that Americans have “a special responsibility” to help Palestinians achieve full self-rule. “As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the [Camp David accord] remains unfulfilled,” he said. Peace and justice? Sounds great! And what does that phrase mean to the Arab world Morsi claims to speak for? The total obliteration of the Jewish state and of Jews everywhere. Nothing less will satisfy them.

Shortly after that interview, Morsi made his first appearance before the United Nations General Assembly and reiterated his insistence that the Palestinian cause be addressed, “to put an end to occupation and settlement of occupied Jerusalem.” Occupied Jerusalem. He also again issued a demand for cultural respect, and closed with a passionate denunciation of “Islamophobia” and “an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities.” “We will not allow anyone,” he said, to insult Muhammad “by word or deed.”

Egypt respects freedom of expression, Morsi said, but does not support expression that incites hatred, deepens intolerance or targets a specific religion. Really? Then perhaps he should lecture his own imams and his Brotherhood associates about their blatant Jew-hatred.

The Obama administration facilitated the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt and continues to support it with financial and military aid, even as he calls for us to restrict our freedom of speech. One might expect that Morsi would express a modicum of gratitude; but again, that’s not the Arab way. Just like other countries in the Islamic world, Morsi’s regime takes our money with one hand and pursues our subjugation with the other.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 9/27/12)