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Perhaps the most dangerous law in Sharia that stands in the way of democracy is the one that states that “A Muslim head of State can hold office through seizure of power, meaning through force.” That law is the reason every Muslim leader must turn into a despotic tyrant to survive, literally. When a Muslim leader is removed from office by force, we often see the Islamic media and masses accept it and even cheer for the new leader who has just ousted or killed the former leader, who is often called a traitor to the Islamic cause. Sadat’s assassination followed many fatwas of death against him for having violated his Islamic obligations to make Israel an eternal enemy. He became an apostate in the eyes of the hard-liners and had to be killed or removed from office. This probably sounds incredible to the Western mind, but this is the reality of what Sharia has done and is still doing to the political chaos in the Muslim world.
Westerners often described the Mubarak administration as secular when in reality it is not. It is true that Mubarak comes from a military background and neither he nor his wife wear Islamic clothes. But no Muslim leader can get away with or even survive one day in office if he is secular in the true sense of the word. It was during Mubarak’s rule in 1991 that Egypt signed the Cairo Declaration for Human Rights stating that Sharia supersedes any other law. So even though Sharia is not 100% applied in Egypt, it is officially the law of the land. Mubarak, like all Muslim leaders, must appease the Islamists to avoid their wrath. According to Sharia itself, a Muslim head of state must rule by Islamic law and preserve Islam in its original form or he must be removed from office. That law leaves no choice for any Muslim leader. Because of that law Muslim leaders must play a game of appearing Islamic and anti-West while trying to get along with the rest of the world. It’s a game with life and death consequences.
The choice in Egypt is not between good and bad, it is between bad and worse. Many in the Muslim world lack the understanding of what is hindering them as well as a lack of a moral and legal foundation for forming a stable democratic political system. I fear that my brothers and sisters in Egypt will end up embracing extremism instead of true democracy and thus will continue to rise and fall, stumble from one revolution to another and living under one tyrant to another looking for the ideal Islamic state that never was. The 1400 year-old Islamic history of tyranny will continue unless Sharia is rejected as the basis of the legal or political systems in Muslim countries. Sharia must be rejected if Egyptians want true democracy and freedom.
Nonie Darwish is the author “Cruel and usual Punishment” and the President of FormerMuslimsUnited.org.
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