An accommodation with political Islam?

What does Anthony Shadid mean?

There is a fear in the West, one rarely echoed here, that Egypt’s revolution could go the way of Iran’s, when radical Islamists ultimately commandeered a movement that began with a far broader base. But the two are very different countries. In Egypt, the uprising offers the possibility of an accommodation with political Islam rare in the Arab world — that without the repression that accompanied Mr. Mubarak’s rule, Islam could present itself in a more moderate guise.

What does he mean “an accommodation with political Islam”? And why does he couple that with the different subject of a potentially moderate Islam?

Political Islam means theocracy. It means government by Islam and according to sharia; it means religion and state are one and the same. A potentially moderate Islam means just that – in this context it means that most Muslims in Egypt could adhere to a moderate version of Islam. The two things don’t go together. Theocracy can’t be “moderate”; political Islam can’t be moderate. You can have more and less vicious political Islam, but you can’t have moderate political Islam any more than you can have moderate political Catholicism or Southern Baptistism.

The Arab world has a spectrum of Islamic movements, as broad as the states that have repressed them, from the most violent in Al Qaeda to the most mainstream in Turkey. Though cast for years as an insurgent threat by Mr. Mubarak, the Brotherhood in Egypt has long disavowed its violent past, and now has a chance to present itself as something more than a force for opposition to Mr. Mubarak’s authoritarianism.

But Islamic movements are Islamist movements, and they shouldn’t be prettied up by being called “mainstream.” There is more to fear from the Muslim Brotherhood than what Shadid seems to mean by “its violent past.” (There’s the “Brotherhood” aspect just for a start. To belabor the obvious: it excludes women.)

“The people are aware this time,” said Essam Salem, a 50-year-old resident there. “They’re not going to let them seize power. People aren’t going to be deceived again. This is a popular revolution, a revolution of the youth, not an Islamic revolution.”

That’s the first hopeful note in the article. I hope it’s true, and in fact it seems highly plausible; it’s not as if the nature of Iran is a secret, nor is the fact that Iran is packed with people who would rebel if they could but prefer not to be thrown into Evin and then hanged.

While [the MB] remains deeply conservative, it engages less in sometimes frivolous debates over the veil or education and more in demands articulated by the broader society: corruption, joblessness, political freedom and human rights abuses.

Yes but that could be a smokescreen. It could be a Trojan horse. Try not to be totally naïve.

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