An interview with Egyptian ex-pat, Bat Ye’or, at the Norwegian website, Document.no. KGS
NOTE: Special thanks to Cecilie for the translation
Bat Ye’or: The Brotherhood wants to Islamize modernity, not to modernize Islam
Bat Ye’or, thank you for letting Document.no. interview you. There has recently been a revolution in your native country, Egypt. Everybody was apparently surprised by the fall of Mubarak’s regime. Were you surprised too?
Yes, of course.
Few commentators seem to have any clear idea of where the road leads to for Egypt. The subsequent future events compared with both the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the revolution in Iran in 1979. Where do you think the country is heading now?
We are on the way to the end, I fear, for the Muslim Brotherhood is the only well-organized and structured movement with clear objectives and an international power base. It also seems that it has almost unlimited access to financing. I am of the opinion that any comparison with Western revolution is meaningless, because we are dealing with a Shariah society that works within a political view of reality that rejects the foundation of our own. I have also noticed with great sadness that the attacks and murders of Copts have increased.
Foreign Correspondents in Egypt say that the protesters’ anger was a cry for justice, and they recognized that there was something genuinely positive in the uprising. But the most cautious would add that this is not something upon which to build a community, given that it is easier to unite against someone than it is to find the way forward together. Can all this youthful energy have some positive impact, or is it disorganized?
I agree with the correspondent’s point of view. But democracy, freedom, jobs and justice can only be developed if you develop the right institutions and have a grasp of the economy. Egypt is a poor country with more than 80 million inhabitants, of whom a large percentage are illiterate who can not cope with the challenges of the 21st century. I do not doubt the abilities of the academic and educated elite, but the social problems are so huge. The general trend towards a more traditionally religious society based on the Koran will also not contribute to modernization.
Do the Egyptian masses want democracy in any meaningful sense of the word, or do they lack a clear understanding of what it is all about?
They surely want democracy, but when you listen to what they have to say, it seems they think there is something tangible that they can grasp and carry, and not an abstract idea that needs time and requires effort from the entire nation to be accomplished. Democracy is not just majority rule. It involves a political independent judiciary, equal rights for all – including non-Muslims and non-Arab minorities such as Kurds, Assyrians and Berbers – and freedom of expression and acceptance of pluralism and criticism. But all this is forbidden both in Sharia law and in the Cairo Declaration of 1990 on human rights in Islam. In order to achieve democracy, one must first eliminate the Sharia.
Professor Bernard Lewis says that there is something in the Muslim tradition that is vaguely reminiscent of democracy; in other words these consultative groups consisting of key people, clan leaders etc. Is such a corporate model, the best you could hope for?
Such meetings, in which unelected tribal leaders make decisions, have nothing whatsoever to do with a modern democracy as we know it.
The Copts were not particularly satisfied with the election of the leader of the constitutional committee. Do you fear that the constitutional amendments will pave the way for the Fellowship?
As early as 1971 the Egyptian Constitution’s Article 2 specified that “the Islamic legal principles is one of the main sources of legislation.” This rule was strengthened on 30 April 1980, when Parliament changed it to Sharia being the main source of legislation. Egypt has kept many Islamic laws: polygamy, discrimination against women, lack of recognition of the Baha’i as a religion, punishment for apostasy and blasphemy, as well as restrictions on Christian religious and civil rights. I am sure that the Brotherhood influence will give the Christians as well as the liberal Muslims an even harder life if they (the Brotherhood) enter the parliament. In addition there will be no democracy without full recognition of Israel’s rights in its historic homeland, or unless the ideology of jihad against non-Muslims ceases.
Is there a danger that they can win big at an early election?
Yes, for the others in opposition consist of a scattered mass without leaders, and political discussions so far show no sign of modern ideas of government, institutions or geopolitics.
In Europe, the Brotherhood is portrayed as a relatively benign movement because it has settled into a less violent rhetoric. After the Coptic church was attacked after New Year, we even heard that even some of its members expressed their wish to be human shields outside the churches. Is this a tactical maneuver, or is there any chance that the Brotherhood’s ideas have changed?
This is to only a small degree about individual members’ personal inclinations. The Brotherhood has a political program: the implementation of sharia law all over the world – initially to be implemented in Muslim countries, and we all know what sharia is. The believers argue that it (sharia) is perfect because it is Allah’s will, and therefore must be applied without modification and without discussion. In global politics the Brotherhood promote a jihadist theology.
How dangerous is the Brotherhood?
It is very dangerous, for it has adopted a Western language to undermine the West. It aims to Islamise modernity, not to modernize Islam. Its founders and leaders promote jihad as a method for the introduction of Sharia, which they believe will cover all aspects of life, personal as well as social and political.
It is sometimes said that the army is a guarantor against full Islamization. But it may well not be completely free of Islamists in its ranks? Is it possible that the army will split into factions in the event of a national crisis?
This was also said about Turkey, but there an Islamist government was elected , which set out to weaken the army’s power. The Egyptian revolution created quite a national crisis, but even though the army had Islamists in its ranks, it was not divided. But let us not forget that Sharia schools, media and movies have already poisoned generations into hatred against the West, against Israel, which is the heart of Western values, and against the Bible, which has shaped Western civilization and spirituality.
Is there anything the West can do to exert constructive influence over what is happening in Egypt now?
Yes, the West can condemn the oppression of the Copts and other religious minorities, and set as a condition for the generous financial support to Egypt that the country builds genuine democratic structures, and put an end to culture of hate against Israel, the culture of hate which is an indicator of the murderous intolerance against Jews, Christians and others. People in the West should demand these things of their own governments, since it is their tax dollars that end up in the Arab countries.
The persecution of minorities, including Christians, has quite a long and often forgotten history in Egypt, but now the phenomenon at least appears to give rise to some international concern. Europe and the rest of the world are looking at Egypt with greater attention, well aware that there is a conflict of civilizations which we also feel in our own countries. Could this eventually make the situation better for the Egyptian minorities?
It’s hard to say. Europe has long ignored the persecution of indigenous, non-Muslim minorities, and claimed it was Israel’s fault if Muslims persecuted Christians. European leaders are now required to give the Christians some attention, for the European public has become aware of what’s going on. The topic was discussed elsewhere on the Internet long before the media got hold of it; it appeared to have been a kind of secret for decades. When I started writing about it, I was heavily criticized, even libelled.
The problem is above all that the Christians in Muslim countries are now acting as hostages. If there is a perception that the West is trying to protect them, it will lead to even more attacks from fanatics. The West has long had a compliant and servile attitude towards the Muslim world, and it will not be easy to show any muscle now. This has also helped to turn Europe into Eurabia. By betraying Israel, one has betrayed Europe. Neither the Obama administration or the political class we have in Europe at the moment can enforce a new, tougher policy. What is needed is an alliance with Muslim forces who reject the Islamic fundamentalism and who will allow minorities religious and national rights to equality and autonomy, and who will accept pluralism in a Middle East which has been colonized by Islam and jihadism. These are the prerequisites for global peace.
Finally, let’s talk some more about Europe. To use your terminology, that continent has achieved a kind of dhimmi status almost without public notice. But now that the three most powerful leaders in Europe have declared multiculturalism to be dead, and even David Cameron has called Islamic extremism a serious problem, may it be that real change is underway in the Old World?
It remains to be seen. We have yet to see whether these statements were only meant to calm the public and keep their votes, or whether they will be followed up by concrete measures that will give the Europeans their freedom, security and dignity back, in that everyone, including immigrants, are required to respect the laws and culture of the countries they move to, rather than to Islamise by means of multiculturalism.
It must be stressed that Europe’s dhimmi status is caused by the policies of world leaders. They could have refused to give up on something that rocked our whole culture, where truths were replaced by lies, so as to facilitate our downfall. Many Muslim immigrants have also suffered from this irresponsible policy, at least the ones who moved to the West because they loved its culture and universal values.
You are a close observer of France. Polls in that country suggest that Marine Le Pen may win the first round of presidential elections in 2012, although she probably won’t win in the end. This probably means that French voters are not satisfied with Sarkozy’s efforts. Will he fail to win the favour of voters by only rhetorically moving in the direction of the Front National? Will the French lose patience and demand real change?
France has been the engine of the Islam-friendly and anti-Israeli Mediterranean policy. The country has, together with Germany, led the EU into this European dhimmi culture. As a result, those countries also have the largest Muslim immigration. The French are now rebelling against the ubiquitous Islamization of schools, the economy – think sharia banking system – and halal meat, lack of freedom of speech, gender discrimination in the hospitals, honor killings, blasphemy laws, media censorship, insecurity and other social conflicts. So yes, the French, like other Europeans, are about to lose patience.
Many people are rightly concerned about the anti-Semitic remarks which old Le Pen expressed in his time. Will his daughter be able to turn the National Front into a mature and credible political party that people can vote for other reasons than despair over the alternatives?
She must first be able to get rid of racists who have stained the party. But there are many elements in the Socialist Party, Communist Party and the extreme left parties that are just as racist, anti-Semitic and dangerous.