Saturday, July 16, 2011

Salafis Gaining Traction

I was reading this article, and it seemed to summarize the Salafi situation pretty well.

It's interesting that the Salafi mentioned that Muslim, Christian, and Jewish women in Egypt used to wear the veil.  Pretell, what happened to Egypt's Jewish population?  Oh, yes, they were expelled and their property was confiscated after the establishment of Israel!  I wonder if this fellow would be interested in allowing them to return, you know, in the name of justice?  Probably NOT.  He also fails to inform the interviewer that women in cities wore the veil, and that the vast majority of the population, as poor farmers, just wore whatever was comfortable, which most likely included a loose hair cover, not a full veil.

I spent some time living in Egypt and my mother and her siblings grew up in Egypt in the 60's and 70's... my mother and her sisters used to wear miniskirts, and my aunt, a physician, felt more respected by her peers and patients than she does in the U.S.  Movies highlighted the injustice against the poor and women.  However, something changed.  Women began wearing the veil in droves.  Men began harrassing women in the streets.  Fundamentalist preachers now come on tv regularly and say that the 8 million Christians should leave, that they don't want tourism, that the Sphinx and pyramids are "infidel" monuments that should be destroyed (yes, someone actually said this).  The fact that people come on tv and say these things and no one reacts is sort of distressing.  Like the article suggests, no one seems to stand up to someone speaking with religious authority, no matter how crazy they are.  This is bad.

To me, democracy is not just about giving people the freedom to vote.  Egypt has absolutely no institutional foundation for a well-functioning country in any sense-- corruption is completely rampant, the constitution is lousy, the entire legal system based on said constitution is lousy, the same people who were running the show when Mubarak was in power are still, essentially, running the show, there is a huge, poverty-stricken, un-educated population that is just going to vote for whoever their clergy tells them to, and finally, there is a vulnerable Christian minority just waiting to be scape-goated.  The people we saw in Tahrir are not representative of Egypt's population as a whole.  I don't know what's going to happen, and I always have hope, but the facts do not sway me to being optimistic.  My optimistic scenario is a functional, "Islamic" Egypt where the poor would not have to live in cemeteries (like they do now) and Christians would just be harassed, instead of killed en masse.

The lesson here is that we cannot ignore fundamentalism of any stripe, and that we have to fight to have an educated population.

No comments:

Post a Comment