By Brigitte L. Nacos
While in Egypt with his colleague Senator John McCain, Lindsey Graham said, “The people who are in charge were not elected. The people who were elected are in jail. The status quo is not acceptable.” The two Republicans criticized the military’s coup to remove the democratically elected government with an Islamic agenda and replace it with a secular one. The mere fact that the two Senators spoke out in support of the fundamentalist group with a long history of Islamist extremism is astounding. McCain and Graham have strange bedfellows at the New York Times, though. The other day, the newspaper editorialized against the Egyptian military and the secular government it installed and in support of the Islamists in the name of democratic rules of the game. “The Brotherhood, having been tossed out in a coup, must wonder whether the democratic process can ever be trusted,” the editorial stated.
One doesn’t have to be in favor of military coups in most cases to question these concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood’s future trust in and commitment to the democratic process. Along with such a commitment would come the willingness to accept the legitimacy of oppositional parties and critical voices. On these counts, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and his Brotherhood government failed and contributed mightily to the current Egyptian conflict.
If democratically conducted elections were the litmus test of legitimacy, why didn’t McCain and Graham and the New York Times and other supporters of Morsi and the Brotherhood speak out in favor of Hamas when the organization won the Palestinian elections in early 2006 handily and thereby the right to govern the territories? The reason for rejecting Hamas’s rule was a non-brainer: Hamas, a creature of the Muslim Brotherhood, was unacceptable as legitimate political actor because of its terrorist activities against Israeli civilians and non-combatants. With the same rationale, Hezbollah’s successes in Lebanon’s democratic elections did not legitimize the political arm of the organizations—because of the Iran-sponsored organization’s deadly record of terrorism against Israel, the United States and other Western countrieWhile imprisoned and politically tamed by Mubarak and predecessors, the Brotherhood’s leadership changed from a violent agenda to non-violence even while helping to establish extremist affiliates and/or spreading extremist jihadist thought and calls-to-arms in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Unlike conservatives like McCain and Graham or liberals like those on the editorial board of the Times, I can’t get worked up about the Muslim Brotherhood possibly losing trust in democracy.
Who says that such trust has existed in the first place?