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Reader opinion: Democracy in Egypt at any cost?


In Wednesday's Opinion pages, Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, delves into America's 'Islamist dilemma.'  Even though the White House says it's open to the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power, there are signs of trepidation. "Once again, the U.S. and its allies find themselves embracing the idea of democracy but not necessarily its outcomes," he writes.

How will this affect our relationship with Israel? Will Egypt still be an ally? Will this prevent American leadership? For readers taking to our comment boards, the biggest concern is unadulterated fear of Muslims. Here's one such comment:

"If our President doesn't watch it, the Muslim Brother, a radical, extremist Sharia Law group, may take power and/or have a role in a new government.  Women's rights will become non-existent, and many other negative actions will take place.

The MSNBC crowd is already touting Obama as the savior of the people of Egypt.....speaking way too soon." -- tommythek50

Why do we really fear Muslims, though? One commenter attempts to inject the conversation with a dose of reason:

"I urge everyone to take the time to do a little research on the Muslim Brotherhood. After you do this, make up  your own mind on what the Muslim Brotherhood stands for, what policies the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to advance in Egypt and elsewhere, how the Muslim Brotherhood views the United State in general and its policies toward the Muslim world in particular, and so forth. If you do what I have suggested, you will be able to evaluate the quality of this op ed, the validity of its opinions, and so forth." -- jeff1947

On the other side of the debate, we have readers such as "Dave in NoHo" saying we ought to support democracy even if it makes us feel uncomfortable:

"Let's remember, democracy is messy. In the 1790s, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton believed that "democracy" was code for accepting the excesses of the French Revolution.  As for a Muslim influence in government in a country that's mostly Muslim, if it's what the Egyptians want, a commitment to democracy says they should be able to have that.  In this country, democracy has given us an uncomfortably Fundamentalist Christian House of Representatives -- if you don't like the idea of Muslim influence, shouldn't you be worried about the House taking a fundamentalist view of abortion and trying to outlaw it?" -- Dave in NoHo

Hamid concludes his Op-Ed article saying that America will always have an "Islamist dilemma."

"But it can be managed," he writes. "Egypt is a good place to start trying."

Do you agree?


Hope amid the chaos in Cairo

A proud moment in Egypt's history

It's Egypt's decision

A second chance for democracy in Egypt

Is real democracy an option in Egypt?

Cairo's restless streets

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Anti-government demonstrators gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Wednesday. Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters


Comments () | Archives (2)

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Henry Ford

There is not much room in the Koran for the freedom of speech and thought that a real democracy requires.

Dean Blake

Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor and International bridge expert, put it very succinctly when he said the "Arabs want shieks, not democracy" which is to say Arabs have no experience with democracy and they want to be lead by and taken care of by 'father figures' rather than be self-responsible and accountable. Mubarak, the King of Jordan, Kadaffi, and the other ME potentates are just such 'father figure' leaders. What can top that? Those clerics who say they have authority from their 'heavenly father' to rule, as Iran's Grand Ayatollas.
Obama and Clinton are running like mad to get in front of the rioting crowds to give the appearance of leadership to a 'new and democratic' Middle East, but its not likely to happen so easily, as we saw in Iraq. Our leadership and the staff at State seems naive. Brenner called a convocation of Iraq's leadership as if it were the Continental Congress in Philidelphia expecting an organized central government to emerge, and only bedlam emerged for a decade. Without careful preparation and planning to educate the masses to a 'social contract' among themselves and governmental institutions, only the tribes and clerics will prevail. There is no 'natural' tendency to democracy, and certainly not in the Muslim world where individual behavior is monitored and supervised in a heirarchy of husbands, fathers, imams, ayatollas and Grand Ayatollas who hold the power of life and death, dismemberment and shame over one another as strict and vengeful as any Ancient Roman household father or tribe, or by modern parallel, the disciplinary structure of a Nazi concentration camp best describes Islamic rule.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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