Now, I know what has been missing in our discussions of the eruptions in the Middle East-we needed to hear from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who weighs in today in the Wall Street Journal.
A former member of the Dutch parliament and crusader against the abuses inflicted on women by extreme forms of Islam, Ms. Ali writes about the way the Muslim Brotherhood, which could turn Egypt into another Islamic republic if allowed to, “seduces” Western liberals.
Readers of this paper are familiar with the genesis of the Muslim Brotherhood: its establishment in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna; its history of terrorism; its violent offshoots such as al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamait Islamiya, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and others across the Muslim world. Readers may also recall the brutal crackdowns on the Brothers by autocratic regimes in the Middle East-particularly in Egypt under Nasser and in Syria during the Hama massacre of 1982.
As a result of these crackdowns, the Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s (after Nasser’s regime executed the Islamist philosopher Sayyid Qutb in 1966) and started a gradual process to participate in conventional politics. This renunciation-and the Brotherhood’s involvement in the Egyptian uprising, neither violent nor dominant-has prompted some commentators to encourage the American government to engage with the Brothers as legitimate partners in Middle Eastern affairs.
Like a drug addict after years in rehab, the Brotherhood is now regarded as clean. Precisely because of its troubled past, so the argument goes, it can be counted on to help lead the people of Egypt into a new era of political reform….
[A]pologists for the Muslim Brotherhood are targeting two audiences. The first is the small but influential liberal elite in the U.S. and its larger counterpart in Europe, which has never been comfortable supporting the likes of Mr. Mubarak and would love to believe in a touchy-feely moderate Islamism.
The second audience is the mainly young people who initiated the uprising and have kept it going with social-networking sites and other modern media tools. Young people in the streets of Cairo cannot help but be attracted to the force that has been the most tenacious and consistent opposition to the hated dictator. And they are mostly Muslims, after all.
It would be better if the western intellectuals faced the truth that the Muslim Brotherhood will not bring democracy. But this would involve growing up, being mature, and renouncing the values of the 1960s that still permeate those employed by newspapers, universities, and especially lately in the U.S. government.