Samer Shehata is a presentable, plausible man, now making his way upwards in academic life. A "moderate." But as a "moderate" he is still unable to see how Islam and the habit of mental submission that Islam inculcates, and its collectivism, and the need for Muslims to submit to the will of the Ruler, as long as that ruler is a Muslim, connects to the despotisms that characterize Muslim countries, where Amurath an Amurath succeeds, sometimes with a period of anarchy in-between those amuraths.
I heard him just now on NPR, a program about Egypt, in which none of the participants dared even to think, much less to express, the connection between Islam, that suffuses Egypt, and the political (and economic, social, moral, and intellectual) failures of that country, that are unlikely to be corrected, but can only get worse. Egypt has more than 83 milion people but can only support about 20 million, even if it were not a society suffused with Islam. As a society suffused with Islam, and that relies for Infidel support -- the Americans have supplied Egypt with about $70 billion in economic and military aid (the latter both quite unecessary, and dangerous), the Europeans have supplied even more. Were that Infidel aid never given, perhaps the Egyptians might have done something abouit their population explosion -- those 83 million are headed toward being 120 million in a decade, but this is something no one will talk about. Why the Western world, where we limit our familiy size for economic reasons, should keep on transferring huge sums to the Muslims and Arabs who do not limit family size, and who regard the creation of more Muslims as, in part, a political weapon against Infidels, is a question that deserves pondering.
What did Samer Shehata say on NPR that most attracted my notice? It was his remark, made just a bit too quickly, with too much baseless assurance, that there exists "no evidence" that Arab states cannot be "democratic." If by "democratic" he meant something more than mere head-counting -- that is, guarantees of minority rights, and rights for women, and freedom of speech, and freedom of religion -- then there is no evidence at all that the Arab Muslim states can be "democratic." He has it exactly backwards. Of the 22 members of the Arab League, how many have ever been, for any part of their history as nation-states, "democratic"? The monarchies of Morocco and Jordan, the petromonarchies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Emirates, little Qatar, even the state most pleasing to Westerners, mostly Ibadi Oman, with the best of Arab rulers, Sultan Qaboos? What about the military dictatorship in Algeria, that has been in place ever since the French left in 1962? What about Libya, where a monarchy gave way to a crazed despot, and he was overthrown, and now a kind of anarchy, with tribe against tribe, and city against city, prevails? What about Tunisia, which after independence had an enlightened despot, Habib Bourguiba, determined through his Destour Party to force Tunisians to be secularised (an Arab version, thus much less systematic and thorough, of Ataturk), followed by an unenlightened and greedier despot, Ben Ali, now followed by the True Believers of Ennahda, a Muslim Brotherhood group, which is held in desperate check by the forces of secularism, such as Moncef Marzouk, and a respected 85-year-old, Caid Essebsi Bey. The only Arab state that has held elections and respected them for long, is Lebanon. And why is that? Lebanon is a special case, because of the size, and power (until recently) of its Christian Maronite population. And the arrangement, among the sects, that assigns certain positions to representatives of certain sects -- based on a 1935 census -- is what keeps Lebanon, aside from the occasional civil war and civil strife and assassinations of leaders (the Sunni Hariri, the Christian Gemayel, and all kinds of lesser fry, including many journalists killed by Hezbollah under Syrian orders), as quasi-"democratic." And then there is Egypt itself, which was much freer under the intelligent sway of Lord Cromer and his aide Edward Cecil (see his "Memoirs of An Egyptian Civil Servant") until 1922, and then under the corrupt easygoing Farouk. Many Egyptians are nostalgic for that ancien regime -- see The Yacobian Building -- but what they really miss, and perhaps are unable quit to grasp, is that they miss the Levantines, the Jews, the Armenians, the Greeks, the Italians -- who had lived, sometimes for centuries, in Cairo and Alexandria, and then when Nasser came, he seized all their property, and booted them out, leaving Egypt culturally impoverished, an impoverishment that will be total if the Copts leave in large numbers. And since 1952, it has been since the Coup of the Colonels, a military regime -- Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak -- now followed by the stolid troglodytic Mohamed Morsi, he of the Muslim Brotherhood. And what of Syria, what of Iraq? When were these countries ever democratic? Iraq had those purple-thumbed elections, that so excited George Bush, but the people in Iraq -- not "the Iraqi people" which is misleading -- voted along ethnic and sectarian linies. The enlightened candidates -- such as Mithal al-Alusi -- had no chance.
That is history.
Then there is the matter of the most important thing in the Arab lands. That most important thing, that thing without discussion of which all other discussion is pointless, is Islam. What does Islam teach? It teaches submission. It teaches emulation -- of a seventh-century Arab who is a Model of Conduct ("uswa hasana"), the Perfect Man ("al-insan al-kamil"). Muhammad, whatever else he was, was not a democrat. Those who most take to heart the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira cannot possibly believe in legal equality for those of all faiths, for those of both sexes, cannot possibly believe in freedom of speech and religion. They answer to a Higher Authority. They've got much bigger fish to fry.
Does Samer Shehata really believe what he said on NPR? Or does he just hope that people will not stop to think. He doesn't yet realize that a great many people have been forced, by the negligence, ignorance, and cravenness of those who presume to protect and instruct them, both in North America and in Western Europe, to learn about Islam, and about the history of Islamic conquests of many diffferent non-Muslim lands and peoples, and to learn about many other relevant things too, including the natural fit of despotism, and the unnatural fit of democracy in the Western sense, with lands where Islam dominates, and Muslims rule.
But he will.