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July 5, 2013

Islamism in Serious Trouble

Roy Meachum

On the eve of America’s great holiday, celebrating freedom and the dignity of man, Egypt’s military arrested duly-elected Muhammad el-Morsi. And thousands cheered!!!


Meanwhile, his neighboring Islamist, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, faces riots and demonstrations in Ankara and most other cities. Istanbul’s Taksim matches the fame of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. I find neither Mr. Erdogan nor Mr. Morsi to blame; they’re acting out of sincere convictions, tied to their souls.


The Egyptian president played like any other politician. Barely elected as the Nile nation’s chief executive, Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Muslimi) chief Morsi offered concessions that were not snapped up; most of the opposition sat out the writing for the new constitution. That may be astonishing: as in any government the published document rules individual lives and official actions. The opposite applies to Turkey.


In 1923, out of the husks of the former Ottoman Empire, an army officer, Mustafa Kemal, formed the modern nation – so much so that he was hailed as Ataturk, the father of all Turks. He changed the language font from Arabic to Roman. Judging religion as the cancer in the imperial society, he founded a very secular state. As readers may remember, when I wrote back columns from Turkey several years ago, I compared the country to those in southern Europe; the residents were very busy working and satellite dishes popped out from most roofs.


Cairo, when I lived there, was caught up in Insha’allah – God willing – and Ma’alesh – it doesn’t matter. Most people I knew didn’t go to mosque. City Egyptians pursued pleasures, leaving the people in the countryside to pray. Not surprisingly, the Brotherhood drew its support from the “stix,” as Variety put it. It was born in answer to the British occupation when a Turkish potentate sat on a Cairo throne. There were several countries with active Islamist organizations, including Turkey.


When I went to Egypt, there were very few women with head coverings – hijabs – and nobody wore the complete Islamist costume; two years later I noticed gloves on female hands, meaning men should not touch. Still, Cairo was the “hot spot” of the Middle East, since Beirut had slipped into bloody civil war that witnessed Americans kidnapped. Saudis were known as big-spenders and drunks, while protesting Wahhabism, a very strict form of Islamic Sunnism. Everybody had stories about oil-rich sheikhs.


Gen. M. Anwar Sadat was president whom Gen. Hosni Mubarak assassinated two years later, when I was back in Washington. Mr. Mubarak didn’t declare a coup when he took over from Mr. Sadat; it was not necessary. In moving the elected official aside, there is a particular avoidance of the coup label – especially in Washington.


The military dropped the civil authority like a hot potato. It named Supreme Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour as chief of government with no presidential elections scheduled.


Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to hold office, but the question is for how long? His Justice and Development Party seem fat and aggressive, but when decisions are made on religion, they are fickle, tending to send people into the streets.


Ya wallah!! O God!!


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