Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Flashback: Bernard Lewis in 2011

As Egypt burns, I recall an interview that this eminent scholar and historian gave back in 2011 as Mubarak fell.  I'll just quote what Lewis had to say about radical Islamic groups and the election that would eventually bring Morsi to power:
Interviewer: Yet in Egypt now, for example, the assumption is that we’re proceeding toward elections in September and that seems to be what the West is inclined to encourage. 
Lewis: I would view that with mistrust and apprehension. If there’s a genuinely free election – assuming that such a thing could happen – the religious parties have an immediate advantage. First, they have a network of communication through the preacher and the mosque which no other political tendency can hope to equal. Second, they use familiar language. The language of Western democracy is for the most part newly translated and not intelligible to the great masses. In genuinely fair and free elections, [the Muslim parties] are very likely to win and I think that would be a disaster. A much better course would be a gradual development of democracy, not through general elections, but rather through local self-governing institutions. For that, there is a real tradition in the region. 
... This idea that a general election, Western-style, is a solution to all these problems, seems to me a dangerous fallacy which can only lead to disaster. ... To say that they’re [the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt]  secular would show an astonishing ignorance of the English lexicon. I don’t think [it] is in any sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical Islamic movement. If they obtain power, the consequences would be disastrous for Egypt.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Hm. That's more or less the Bush Freedom Agenda approach and how our peace operators in Iraq approached nation-building there.