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Recommended: Why the Anti-Mursi Protesters are Right

1:49 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat

In a recent article author Ahmad Shokr persuasively argued that the noisy opponents of the Morsi dictatorship are right to contest his elected government, his dictatorship and the constitution he and his allies wish to impose on Egypt. Shokr develops his critique by rejecting three common claims made by defenders of and reporters on the Morsi coup d’état. They are:

  • “The rival camps in Egypt embody a divide between Islamism and secularism.”
  • “Islamists are authentic representatives of the majority of Egyptians.”
  • “Mursi has made great strides toward civilian democracy and his downfall would mean a return to military rule.”

The first two claims are internally related. Shokr considers false the claim that most of Morsi’s opponents are secularists bent on thwarting the creation of an Egyptian state which legally expresses Islamic Law (or shari‘a). Morsi’s opponents are, according to Shokr, opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, not political Islam as such. The differences between the sides are political, not religious. (Parenthetically, it cannot be stated as a matter of settled fact that political Islam is a kind of anti-democracy or that Islamists necessarily oppose democracy and liberalism. This belief is rapidly becoming a self-serving canard for Islam-haters, and should be rejected as a reality obscuring prejudgment). In other words, the conflict roiling Egypt is not confessional in nature; Morsi’s opponents are, in fact, Muslims.

It follows from the above that the Muslim Brotherhood is not the authentic representative of the majority of Egyptians. Its politics does not exhaust the possible forms political Islam could have in Egypt. It has never won an election with a supermajority.

That said, the origin of the current crisis ought to be obvious:

By granting himself sweeping powers and rushing to call for a December 15 referendum on the new constitution, Mursi has given Egyptians a stark choice between being ruled by an unrepresentative constitution or by a dictator. Many have refused this kind of political blackmail. Leading opposition figures, many of who were dissidents under Mubarak, have called on Mursi to revoke the decree and open the constitution drafting process to broader input. Egyptian human rights groups have almost unanimously echoed these demands. Tens of thousands who joined the protests that brought down Mubarak are back on the streets. Their fight is not for an ill-defined secularism so much as it is for political inclusion and democracy.

As Shokr points out later on, Egypt is diversely composed, and many components therein have refused to accept the dilemma Morsi wants to impose on them: Dictatorship or constitutional imposition. Egypt’s constitution ought to reflect the existence of this diversity if it wishes to avoid generating illegitimate government and another revolutionary spring.

Finally, it cannot be said that Morsi’s actions were meant to secure Egyptian democracy against a military apparatus wishing to directly rule the country. Nor can it be said that the Morsi government gained an electoral mandate to impose its will on the country. What can be said, according to Shokr’s analysis, is that the Muslim Brotherhood has already collaborated with the military to secure the military’s prerogatives under the constitution and to protect the military by providing a political buffer zone between the military and Egyptian civil society. To put the matter in different terms, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi government have collaborated with institutions which pose intrinsic threats to Egyptian democracy and the rule of law.

The stakes are high, and can be encapsulated in this predicament: Will Egypt complete the transition from Mubarak’s authoritarian regime to a consolidated democracy or will it eventually — soon — produce another authoritarian regime, this one dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, its allies and the military?

As of this moment, Egypt’s military has already suggested that “disastrous consequences” (read: martial law) may result if the conflict continues. To be sure, this tacit threat benefits Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

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Environmental science — an ersatz religion

7:31 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

Humpty Dumpty/wikimedia

In a speech he recently made to the Ohio Christian Alliance, Rick Santorum, a former Senator from Pennsylvania and a Republican candidate for President, recently accused President Obama of having a “phony theology,” one that does not derive from The Bible and which the President has imposed on the citizens of the United States.

Although Santorum later admitted that Obama is a Christian — Santorum: “I wasn’t suggesting the president was not a Christian. I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian….” — it remains the case that the President’s theology is a secular belief system.

Speaking for myself, I find it difficult to glean the mediating concepts Santorum needs to use in order to logically reconcile his claim that Obama is a Christian (as is Santorum and the citizens to which he directs his propaganda) and the claim that Obama believes and wishes to impose a phony theology on America? Amazingly enough, claims of this sort are shaky ground for a Catholic politician in the United States, the Catholic’s Church being the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Antichrist for some of protestant America. One might wonder why Santorum makes these claims given the history of anti-Catholicism in the United States.

Be that as it may, Santorum did eventually clarify his position on Obama’s theology. Santorum believes Obama is an environmentalist. That is Obama’s theology! Moreover, environmentalism is not only a theology, it is a belief system based on the misuse of scientific evidence. The abuse: Claims which assert the existence of anthropocentric global warming are a “hoax,” according to Santorum. The evidence does not support the anthropocentric global warming position. (The anthropocentric global warming thesis is the consensus opinion among the experts.) And Obama, for his part, has been an industry-friendly advocate of green energy proposals. Because he is such, Obama wants to impose his “phony theology,” environmentalism, on the United States.

The crux of the matter: Are climate science, ecology and biology theological belief systems? Is environmentalism, the practical use of these sciences, a theology? Not at all if by theology one means a discourse (logos) about the nature of the divine (theos being the Greek word for God). One can be an atheist, a practicing scientist and an environmentalist without contradiction. These are not mutually exclusive terms. Nor does scientific practice entail the enchantment of nature. A scientist can practice her craft believing the universe to be nothing more than a consciousless, intentionless, aimless set of mechanisms. But historical semantics does not concern an obscurantist thinker like Santorum. He only needs to label environmentalism a theology because it is a belief system, and it, like every belief system, allegedly has a theological core and even a theodicy. Read the rest of this entry →