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FrontPage Interview’s guest today is Cynthia Farahat, a political activist and dissident in Egypt.
FP: Cynthia Farahat, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about a fundamental lack of understanding that exists in the West today about Arab and Egyptian regimes, namely what many westerners think about the so-called “secular” and “moderate” forces that exist among them.
Tell us your thoughts on this issue.
Farahat: Thank you.
Egyptian and Arab regimes govern their people by socialist Sharia-based constitutions. The philosophy of governance of Arab regimes is Islamic Socialism, which is basically socialism and Sharia law minus Hodud (Islamic penal law).
Hardly moderate or tolerant, Islamic socialist regimes like Mubarak’s systematically suppress secular and classic liberal opposition, not just for ideological difference, but for a far more important reason — which is the fact that secular and classic liberal reformers pose as the real better political substitute to these regimes. Indeed, they are a more advanced and more internationally acceptable alternative to the costly tyrannies. If real seculars in the region began to represent a mainstream political movement, like it used to be in Egypt before 1952 military coup, then the current tyrants’ seizure of power and the support they receive from western governments would no longer be justified, since there would be a far better option.
Islamic socialist regimes subjugate us while systematically breeding and inflating Islamists, who are nothing but slightly worse looking versions of themselves. This is the way they maintain the vicious circle of blackmail of “it’s either us or apocalypse.” And Mubarak made several statements along these lines and it explains why he allowed the Muslim Brotherhood political participation and banned our secular political party.
I don’t think anyone can point out one real ideological difference between groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, militant Islamic groups, and Arab regimes. Yes, they have different methodologies and strategies, but if we listen to the political discourse of theses regimes, it is identical to al-Qaeda’s. If we take a look at the Egyptian and Saudi curricula and media, they are nothing but terror-producing machines.
FP: What are the consequences of the West’s misconception of this whole equation?
Farahat: The misconception results in a dangerous sham alliance between freedom and its enemies. You will often find freedom-loving people unknowingly working on advancing the agendas of their enemies. The fact that the Egyptian and Saudi regimes both adopted the same political stance as Salafi Jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood in time of crisis and initially allied against the protests in Egypt when they first started. Egyptian “moderate” bureaucracy, Salafi Jihadists, and the Muslim Brotherhood cast their votes the same way in the March 19th constitutional referendum and this should have been glaring evidence that they have similar goals and only different means to acquire them.
What is even more disturbing than the fact that these regimes openly ally with the Jihadists is that many western political analysts and allies of freedom took the same stance as the Salafi Jihadists and the regime against the protests. I think that whenever one finds themselves upholding the same political stance on any political issue as Salafi Jihadists, not ideologically of course, but in terms of agreeing on the same conclusion, like for the example being pro or against protests in Egypt and the region, then something must be terribly wrong.
If someone like Glenn Beck, whom I respect and admire, agrees with Nageh Ibrahim from Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya that the protests against Mubarak are wrong and not in their best interest, then I think this a sign that one needs to revise their premises. When Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and freedom loving people agree on what’s in their best interest, I take this as a sign of dangerous misconception that no one can afford.
Many westerners believe these regimes’ propaganda and end up supporting the unsustainable status quo and perpetuating a vicious circle where they fund and fuel the regimes dedicated to annihilate them, while calling them “allies”. This vicious circle needs to be dismantled through admitting the fact that there is a cold war between Arab regimes and the western world — whether many people would like to admit it or not. There is a Soviet style cold war there and denying it will not make it go away.
Mubarak was trained in Soviet Russia and graduated from Mikhail Frunze Military Academy like many, if not most of the influential political figures in Egypt’s modern history that were groomed in Soviet Russia for the current political positions they uphold. Arab regimes engage in a Soviet style cold war with America, growing up in Egypt I’ve known all my life that the only reason Egypt isn’t at war with America is because it’s weaker, and it’s always “America’s fault” of course. It’s not because socialism, Sharia law, and fascism always fail, it’s because America exists. The evasion to acknowledge the real problem is dangerous.
It’s essential to always keep Soviet Russia and the KGB in my mind to understand Arab politics, like American conservatives would not call a Soviet dictator an ally; the same should apply to Arab theocratic socialist dictators. The Soviets taught these regimes almost all they know about modern governance, add to it theocracy, and it’s pretty much a version of hell.
FP: But just a second, where Glenn Beck was right, and where those who are concerned about these demonstrations are right, is that the devil we know might be better than the devil we don’t know. No one is denying what you are saying about the true nature of the phony “secular” leaders, but the Muslim Brotherhood could very well come to power on the backs of these demonstrators and then we have an even worse situation. Surely, to take Egypt as an example, it is better for us to have a Mubarak in power than a Khomeini-like regime.
Farahat: I believe that’s a dangerous notion, because the “devil you know” is breeding and indoctrinating millions of devils you don’t know. It’s an unsustainable strategy that only creates a short-term delusion of stability while it only allows your enemy to conveniently plot against you as you support him! The long term outcome is devastating; it brings us to the point we are at now. And what if Mubarak dies? He is in his 80’s and sick with cancer. It would have fallen even harder on the lap of the devils you don’t know if he had died, so this circle has to be dismantled all together with a new fresh different outlook, this is too costly, risky and unsustainable.
I don’t think Egypt will be a Khomeini-like regime, not just because the people won’t allow it, but because we already have a Khomeini-like Sunni regime in Saudi Arabia that monopolizes supremacy on the Sunni radical domain and it will not allow competition on Sunni supremacy.
The concept of Khilafah is very much alive and well, and functioning stealthily. Egypt is a Saudi colony; KSA has been trying to ideologically control Egypt by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood since the early 1930’s and in the 40’s the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated the Egyptian army. The Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and almost 90 officers of his movement that he called “The Free Officers,” were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Nasser himself swore alliance to the terrorist organization on a gun and the Quran; according to Khalid Mohei Eldeen’s biography, who was a member of the “Free Officers” and Member of Parliament.
The 1952 putsch was staged by members of the Muslim Brotherhood that subverted Egypt from a liberal secular constitutional monarchy to an Islamic socialist state, and that’s far from being just a historic fact, it’s the current reality of our 59 year old system of governance, the system that still governs Egypt till today is very much governing in accordance to the ideology of Islamic-socialism. So whether the Muslim Brotherhood governs Egypt directly or by proxy, their allegiance will mainly be to Saudi Arabia, which is highly unlikely to support the creation of another Sunni Khilafah, it’s already having enough trouble competing with the Shi’te one in Iran.
FP: Your thoughts on Bush’s policies in the Middle East? Obama’s?
Farahat: It’s incredible how much we are affected in Egypt and in other third world countries by the policies of the White House — even more dramatically than Americans themselves are.
America is governed by a solid instructional political system and the “rule of law”; so the short term immediate impact of the policies presidents in the White House on Americans is usually economic, but the policies of American presidents affect us here on a whole different level and have a much stronger impact than one would imagine, as lawless corrupt constitutionally theocratic socialist dictatorships and gang politics function under an entirely different system and different epistemology than that of the West.
Bin Laden’s “strong horse” and “weak horse” analogy explains it best. That’s not al-Qaeda’s perception of power, that’s the who Arab region’s concept of governance; accurately defining the concept of power in Arab countries can lead to better policies, to Arab regimes you are either a “weak horse” or a “strong horse”, there is nothing called an Arab “moderate” regime, that’s a western myth, you’re either “free” or “Dhimmi”, “victim” or “victimizer.” That’s how power is perceived in Arab nations.
Most Arab and western media systematically disfigured and undermined the success of G. W. Bush policies in the Middle East as part of Islamic western leftist jihad; my political work and hundreds if not thousands of other people in Egypt and the region is somehow a byproduct of the policies of the “strong horse,” President Bush of course. Our existence in politics was a result of American intervention in Iraq, I am certainly not saying that America should military intervene in every Arab country, far from it. But a strong political stance doesn’t have to be done militarily.
As Mark Steyn puts it: “Overwhelming force is one thing, but overwhelming force behaving underwhelming as a matter of policy is quite another.”
Every Arab tyrant was terrified of hand washing his own clothes and hiding in a cave like their ally Saddam Hussein; so they had to leverage with the “strong horse” in the White House by giving us more rights, and this changed the daily lives of millions to the better and made politics more accessible for someone like me. I personally went from being an underground anonymous activist to someone who publicly publishes ideas that were completely banned and severely punished before President Bush’s administration.
Why President Obama supported protests in Egypt and why I do, might be for entirely different reasons. The Obama administration is resuming formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, which certainly is not in the best interest of freedom loving people in Egypt. There are millions of us who want real freedom. Whoever America communicates with here becomes stronger. The Bush administration communicated with us, Obama’s administration is communicating with the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s basically the difference.
FP: Ms. Farahat, recent polls reveal that more than 80% of Egyptians want stoning for adultery and the death penalty for apostasy. In other words, they overwhelmingly support and want Sharia. The fact is that 80%-90% of the female population is subjected to female genital mutilation in Egypt. Hatred of Israel is off the charts, as angry mobs are demanding Egypt cut all ties with Israel. Christians are becoming the victims of a planned mass genocide. The mob that sexually assaulted Laura Logan – what did that indicate about the temperament and direction of the Egyptian revolution? Where are all these secular forces and democratic you are referring to? Where are they in the streets defending Israel and Christians, denouncing apostasy laws and Sharia and shouting against FGM? They are not to be seen anywhere.
How does one have optimism about implementing “democracy” within such an environment? Who is it that the West is supposed to deal with exactly? Yes it would be nice if there was a strong opposition that wanted true freedom, but the numbers and realities on the ground simply reveal the opposite.
Farahat: Dr. Glazov, I’m afraid your question about the whereabouts of the secular forces I’m referring to needs to be addressed first to Mubarak’s regime; ask him why he banned, imprisoned, tortured and terrorized secular dissidents and opened the parliament wide in a forged election to the Muslim Brotherhood in 2005. Why did Mubarak’s regime ban our secular capitalist political party twice? How many people do you think would be ready to get phone calls from state security daily for years telling them gruesome torture details they would do to them if they lay their hands on them?
How many people would be ready to endure the horror I and people like me go through every night and day by Mubarak’s regime for demanding secularism? This is how much there are secular dissidents, the kind of people who would be willing to die or live in terror for what they believe in, would be a minority in any nation under the current circumstances; secularism in Egypt is a form of conscious political dissent against a constitutionally theocratic terrorist police state governed by torturers; it’s like asking me how many people were willing to defy the Soviet Union? Where were they? They were exactly where secular dissidents in Egypt are, that place that very few people dare go to against the will of a tyrannical police state that counts the breaths of its citizens. There is no such thing as mainstream dissident, so that’s why secularism isn’t mainstream in Egypt; it’s a form of dissent that threatens dissidents’ lives.
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