Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies overwhelmed liberal activists in numbers and decibels at a Tahrir Square rally today. The rally was originally called to demonstrate the continuing unity of the protest movement that led to the fall of the regime of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, and its organizers had agreed that the participating organizations should keep the rally free of divisive issues. But the Islamists quickly turned the rally into a demonstration for the institution of strict Islamic law in Egypt. The AP reports:
Instead of "Peaceful, peaceful," which demonstrators have chanted during confrontations with security forces, they repeated "Islamic, Islamic." And instead of "The people want to topple the regime" — a chant made famous in Tunisia and adopted across the region — they yelled, "The people want to implement Sharia," or Islamic law.
Does everyone remember how the mainstream media ridiculed Glenn Beck when he suggested that the Arab Spring and the Tahrir Square demonstrations would be used by the Islamists to advance their plan for a new caliphate under Islamic law? I disagree with Mr. Beck somewhat, because I believe that many of the Tahrir Square demonstrators, especially at the earliest rallies, sincerely advocated for a liberal, if not secular, democracy. However, subsequent events suggest that the liberal pro-democracy advocates will turn out to have been the "useful idiots" (Lenin's catch phrase) for the better organized and highly motivated Islamists. If so, then what will emerge in Egypt, and perhaps in other "Arab Spring" nations as well, will be a Salafist or Sunni version of the Shiite Islamic dictatorship in Tehran. Mr. Beck may not have been accurate in every detail, but his overall prediction appears to have been right on the mark.
In what is probably not an unrelated news item, in fact reported by AP in the same story, gunmen in the Minya province, south of Cairo, opened fire at a car carrying five Christians, murdering two of them. This is the second fatal attack in as many weeks in the predominantly Christian town of Roman.
It ought not need to be said, but must unfortunately must be stated in the currently charged atmosphere following the terrorist attacks in Norway, that the sentiments in this post are not directed against Islam or Moslems generally, but only at those Islamist extremists who would deny to others the same religious liberty that they so strongly claim for themselves. I treasure living in a nation where Moslems, Christians, Jews, believers of every stripe, and, yes, non-believers as well, enjoy freedom of religion (or non-religion if they prefer) and of expression. I just want to keep it that way.