HuffPo Contributor: 'U.S. Must Understand... Constructive Role of Faith' in Egyptian Politics

Can you imagine a Huffington Post headline entitled, "Secular Liberals Need to Understand the Role of Faith in American Politics"?

Given the website's history of telling Christian conservative leaders to "go to Hell," celebrating the decline of Christianity in Great Britain, or trashing the Catholic Church, it's not very likely.

But yesterday morning the Huffington Post ran a piece by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies' Dalia Mogahed -- entitled "U.S. Must Understand the Constructive Role of Faith in Egypt's Democratic Aspirations" -- aimed at quieting fears of many Americans that the radical Muslim Brotherhood could have a controlling interest in Egypt's government post-Mubarak:

Surveys show that Egyptians prefer democracy over all other forms of government. They also say that religion plays a positive role in politics.

The majority of Egyptians want democracy and see no contradiction between the change they seek and the timeless values to which they surrender. More than 90 percent of Egyptians say they would guarantee freedom of the press if it were up to them to write a constitution for a new country. Moreover, most Egyptians say they favor nothing more than an advisory role for religious leaders in the crafting of legislation. Egyptians choose democracy informed by sacred values, not theocracy with a democratic veneer.




U.S. policy makers cannot afford to alienate this movement by failing to understand its intricacies. Faith is a part of Egypt, but most Egyptians do not support the rule of clerics. They seek the rule of law.

Of course the vast majority of Egyptians may well favor a democratic scheme that protects minority rights, but given the power vacuum left by the demise of the Mubarak regime and the fractious nature of the political opposition, it's worrisome that the more organized radical elements of the opposition, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, could exert undue influence and push the country into a troubling radical direction.

When Mogahed euphemistically refers to the influence of "faith" in Egypt, it's safe to presume she means the Muslim majority, overlooking concerns held by the Coptic Christian minority that they would face grave persecution under an Egyptian regime administered or heavily influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.

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