Since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, Egyptian liberals have increasingly felt threatened by the rising influence of radical Islamists, and for good reason.
The radical Islamists are pursuing power through elections, and whilst it perhaps goes without saying that Egypt’s Islamists are preferable to both Hamas and Hezbollah, all three of them are united by the undemocratic aim of building political systems in which legal debates are inherently religious.
And in spite of the Muslim Brotherhood’s pledge to create a "state of all its citizens", a legal system based on Islamic law would certainly exclude Egyptian Christians, who comprise 10% of Egypt’s population, plus millions of others who want a secular body politic.
Enter Mickey And Minnie
On Friday July 1,2011, billionaire liberal party leader Naguib Sawiris, who is an Egyptian Christian telecoms mogul angered Islamic hard-liners by posting an on-line cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a beard and Minnie in a face veil.
After which an on-line campaign was launched calling on all Muslims in Egypt to boycott Sawiris’ mobile phone company Mobinil and shares of Mobilnil and Orascom Telecom.
And the shares of both companies fell on Monday on the Egyptian stock exchange.
Enter Facebook And Twitter
The ultraconservative Islamists, known as Salafis, called the cartoon posted by Naguib Sawiris on Twitter a mockery of Islam, and posts on Facebook included such things as:
"If you are really a Muslim, and you love your religion, boycott his projects. We have to cut out the tongue of any person who attacks our religion".
What Does Sawiris Want?
Sawiris, promotes a secular Egypt and after Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, he launched a political party that calls for separation of state and religion.
How Did Sawiris React?
After the cartoon stirred complaints on Twitter, Sawiris tweeted an apology on Friday and claimed he was just joking.
"I apologize for those who don’t take this as a joke; I just thought it was a funny picture; no disrespect meant. I am sorry".
And The Future?
An official at the prosecutor general’s office said that at least fifteen Salafi lawyers have filed lawsuits accusing Sawiris of religious contempt.
Whether or not Sawiris is ultimately indicted is not the pivotal issue however.
The Pivotal Issue
This episode must serve as the latest reminder that Islamism and democracy are mutually exclusive!
Democracy, requires a broad array of civil rights, including the right to criticize the state and its legal foundations, whereas Islamists are incapable of accepting such extensive liberties and broadly agree that Sharia should form the basis of their countries’ legal systems.
Western policymakers must proceed with a clear-eyed view of Islamists’ mutual exclusivity with democracy and should avoid like the plague, Britain’s ambassador to Egypt Alistair Burt’s recent claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is a positive force for a democratic Egyptian future?!.
Alistair Burt is clearly no fool, so he’s presumably either anti-Semitic or anti-Israel, but whatever case, he’s clearly the wrong man for the job, and should be gotten rid of!