What’s behind the Muslim quest for democracy in Egypt?

Islamic values are not exactly conducive to building a foundation upon which a democratic society can be established, so why the sudden push for it?

Earl Cox 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Earl Cox 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Because of the United States’ unique history, most American citizens recognize that that a free democracy requires a strong foundation of Judeo-Christian values to function and survive. Muslims, however, do not have our values of respect for life, respect for others’ opinions, freedom of speech, and free and fair elections. Muslim people generally live in fear of their governments rather than in peace and tranquility.
A prime example of tyrannical rule under Islam is the recent upheaval in the Middle East that has dominated world news over the past several weeks. From an American Christian perspective, we are elated to witness the uprisings against Muslim dictatorial governments in several Arab countries, but we are also uncertain - because we just don’t know what will be birthed by these uprisings.
We would like to see the power of the people lead to genuine democracy in these countries, which have been oppressively ruled for a long time by Muslim tyrants.  However, history shows us that genuine democracy is probably a lot more than we can expect. It is more likely that any ousted Muslim tyrant will simply be replaced by another, perhaps more severe, Muslim tyrant.
The Arab revolution, or awakening as some are calling it, started in Tunisia where the Arab people miraculously succeeded in overthrowing their oppressive Muslim government. I say “miraculously” because it has never happened that way in the past. Muslim governments have somehow always been able to suppress any dissent and to prevent any mass opposition.
Almost immediately, many pundits began predicting that the Tunisian events might trigger a domino effect in other Arab Muslim countries, and it did not take long for this to come to pass. Now the demonstrations and riots have spread to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and the Palestinian Arab territories adjoining Israel.
In Egypt, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country with a heavy fist for 30 years. And amazingly, Mubarak resigned on Friday, Feb. 11.
The dissenting crowds, however, have no effective organization and no acknowledged leader who might lead the people in a more democratic fashion. On Friday, the official announcement was that the Egyptian military will rule the country until elections can be held in September. Long-term, however, observers think that either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Egyptian military will assume power and control. In either case, it would likely keep the country under confining Muslim rule, with little or no democratic improvements. How soon any control at all will be established is still a perplexing question.
Another important question is: How will all this Muslim unrest affect Egypt’s neighbor, Israel? How is the government of Israel reacting to this widespread Muslim uprising? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented that currently the threat from Egypt is regarded as low; but he is “anxiously monitoring” the events in Egypt. “Our efforts are designed to maintain security and stability in our region,” he stated. “I remind all that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades, and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue.”
Still, the 30 years of peace has been nothing more than a “cold peace.” The deep-rooted mutual distrust between Israel and Egypt has never been eliminated. While the peace treaty has given relief from actual warfare, the Israeli military has never taken its eyes off its southern neighbor.  The Israeli military is ready with a prepared reserve force, no matter where a confrontation may break out. In fact, additional military troops have now been sent to patrol the nation’s border with Egypt.
Recently, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both sent messages to Egypt expressing support for the popular uprising. Initially, they supported Mubarak’s decision to stay in power and remain in control during the transition period; but this quickly changed to pressure on him to resign. Mubarak has supposedly been an American friend. Why not? He has been receiving $1.5 billion in US aid every year, along with up-to-date military equipment and technological advancements to assist Egypt to keep pace with Israel militarily. But like Egypt’s “cold peace” with Israel, Egypt’s friendship with the US has also been a “cold” friendship.
Can we hope for genuine democracy to arise in any of these disrupted Muslim countries? We have the example of Iran in 1979 to reflect upon. An Iranian revolution deposed the Shah of Iran. It was a middle-class uprising much like the one in Egypt today. But it ended with a stronger Muslim dictatorship taking over the reins of government.  Now the Muslim Iranian government is not only suppressing the Iranian people but also threatening to destroy Israel and take control of other Middle Eastern countries.
After several centuries of Islamic rule in all these Arab countries, I don’t think we can expect them to change much, if at all. Their Islamic values are not conducive to building a foundation upon which a democratic society can be established and allowed to grow and thrive. To understand this, we must remember that all Muslims hold their primary allegiance to Allah  - who has commanded them to hate the Jews and Israel and to hate Christians and America ... hardly the values that would nurture a real democracy.
Bible-believing Christians understand that we are watching history being made. The prophecies of the Scriptures are being fulfilled today before our eyes. Israel and the Middle East are the primary focus of these divine prophecies. We don’t know exactly how these unprecedented current events will turn out in the long run, but we do know that our God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel - is in complete control.