Egyptian Liberals (like their Egyptian-American expatriate colleague Mona Eltahawy) championing free speech
Vote Compass is an interactive electoral literacy application, originally founded by Clifton van der Linden, at the University of Toronto, and subsequently applied internationally by political scientists, including within Egypt.
Dutch Political Scientist André Krouwel, working with an academic team of Egyptian political scientists at Vote Compass Egypt, was interviewed for a story published today (12/8/12) in the Vancouver Sun (hat tip Diana West) about data on Egyptian attitudes toward the draft constitution. Despite Egypt’s ongoing political crisis, including violent clashes, precipitated by President Morsi’s assertion of executive powers to break the 6-month deadlock which had stalled Egypt’s constitutional draft and referendum process, Krouwel (ostensibly speaking for his Vote Compass Egypt team) acknowledges,
About 70 per cent of the population will vote in favor of the constitution
This overwhelming support for the draft constitution was registered despite the fact that as my colleague Andrew McCarthy re-affirms today (12/8/12), the charter effectively, “denies freedom of conscience,” and “denies freedom of expression.”
Dating back to within a few days of their publication in April, 2007, I have repeatedly highlighted data from Egypt indicating that 74% of Egyptians favored “strict” application of the Sharia in general. As recently as December 2010, Pew polling data revealed that 84% of Egyptian Muslims rejected freedom of conscience in the most ugly terms claiming apostates should be killed (i.e., that percentage would likely be well over 90% if less draconian punishments, such as imprisonment and beating till recantation were queried), 82% favor stoning adulterers to death, and 77% approved of mutilating punishments for theft. Moreover, just last week when 7 expatriate Copts and Terry Jones were condemned to death for “blasphemy” not a single high profile Egyptian “liberal” or “non-Islamist,” or “authentic moderate reformer”—whatever moniker one wishes to use for such individuals—has forcefully and unequivocally condemned this heinous verdict in the Egyptian public square.
None of this bedrock, totalitarian, liberty-crushing mass Islamic mindset can be blamed on the behind the scenes “machinations of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)”; it is merely a reflection of Islamic beliefs and mores the MB openly shares with the mass of Egyptians, and has shared since the undercurrent of public longings in the 1920s first lead to the MB’s flowering.
Islamologist James Heyworth-Dunne’s observations, published shortly after his death in 1949, made clear that “…should the ikhwan [Brotherhood] acquire power,” it would impose the orthodox Islamic, Sharia-based restrictions advocated by founder Hasan al-Banna (i.e., such as the compulsory veiling of women; closing “un-Islamic” newspapers and periodicals, and making impossible the purchase of English and French novels; closing bars, restaurants, and cabarets, while forbidding the sale or consumption of alcohol and scourging anyone found consuming alcoholic beverages). However, Heyworth-Dunne added that these restrictions merely represented a “…return to their Islamic customs which, in fact prevailed only 25 years ago.” Thus Heyworth-Dunne (writing prior to1950) confirms that before 1925 (or earlier, i.e., “25 years ago”)—antedating by at least three years the advent of the MB—their “version” of Sharia and its mores represented in fact a recent, previously longstanding status quo
History and hard data—including the Vote Compass Egypt data just shared by Krouwel revealing 70% support for the increasingly Sharia-compliant Egyptian draft constitution, tell us why the “Egyptian liberals” are so afraid of a constitutional referendum despite their claims it is “unpopular”.
Now that the “Egyptian liberals” have organized into a front they should be able to defeat the proposed constitution, and force a new draft process. But the “liberals’” response seems to be violent anarchy instead—which of course likely serves the MB because the MB bureaucrats may have softened, but their ardent followers of all stripes surely haven’t become less adept at violence.
The sheer, delusive hypocrisy of the “Egyptian liberals” is epitomized by Kamel Daoud, spokesman for Hizb-el Dostour, (the Constitutional Party), led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed El-Baradei. Crowing that the opposition was “winning a new round every day,” and “I think more and more people understand why we are against what is happening,” he nonetheless re-stated his movement’s bottom line rejection of a simple democratic referendum that would validate his contentions:
We continue to insist that there should not be a vote on the constitution.