It is pretty common for conservatives to complain that the “Arab Spring” is being sold as a movement toward “American-style” democracy when it is actually a move toward Muslim theocratic authoritarianism. That may indeed be true and a bad thing. We can see this especially all being played out in Egypt.
I’m not sure what to say about the Islamic theocracy aspect of the problem. What did anyone expect? If a majority of the people in a democracy wants Islamic law they are going to vote for Islamic law. You can pick democracy or you can pick a secular non-democratic regime that imposes secular laws. You can’t have both democracy and secular laws so please stop pretending. Obviously, whatever our leaders pretend, their decisions in Iraq, then Libya, and now Syria show that they prefer Islamic theocracies, even ones run by the same terrorists we claim to oppose, rather than dictatorships that are able to impose secular norms.
But what if we take away the issue of Islamic theocracy? Then we might find that America is indeed setting an example that is being followed. And we might not like it.
Mohamed Mursi, the elected president of Egypt, has declared on his own authority that his executive decisions are “above review.” He is using these powers to back up a committee of “extremists” who are writing religious laws. According to Bloomberg,
“The committee has faced legal challenges and been criticized by secular groups who contend it is dominated by Islamists forcing through articles that curtail freedoms and don’t represent the country’s religious minorities. ‘Mursi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh,” Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who played a key role in last year’s uprising, said on his Twitter account. “A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences.’”
So what inspired Mursi to make such a despotic move? Who would make him think that it is acceptable in a democracy to become a “new pharaoh”? According to Bloomberg, the decrees were made, “a day after Mursi was hailed by President Barack Obama and other leaders for his role in realizing a truce between Hamas and Israel.”
What sort of model and encouragement has Obama been as president? Has he been an example of constitutional division of powers? No! As John Whitehead’s Christian legal organization, The Rutherford Institute has reported,
“Not only did Obama continue many of the most outrageous abuses of the George W. Bush administration (which were bad enough), including indefinite detention and warrantless surveillance of American citizens, but he also succeeded in expanding the power of the ‘imperial president,’ including the ability to assassinate American citizens abroad and unilaterally authorize drone strikes resulting in the deaths of countless innocent civilians, including women and children.”
Whitehead enumerates a long list of ways in which Obama has made the office of the President more powerful, more secretive, and more unaccountable. Not only do such actions damage the United States, they set a disgusting example for other nations. Rather than being a beacon of freedom, we become a role model for dictatorship.
Republicans don’t have the Presidency for four more years. Conservatives need to double down on getting Congress to fight for their own Constitutional role in governing the nation and holding the President accountable. We need freedom at home and a message of freedom going out from us to the rest of the world.