Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Propos Egypt's Constitututional Referendum

France 24 recently reported on a book from Renaissance Capital that confirms my belief that Africa will continue on a rapid growth curve for the foreseeable future. Like all liberals, Charles Robertson affirms that although the transition from subsistence farming is always painful, with inequality comes an overall increase in well-being.

The coming decades will see if he’s right. For the time being, Africans displaced from ancestral lands by agro-business would disagree: The profits are not for them, and their resentment feeds political violence.  Had Europe and the United States engaged in peaceful relations with Africa over the last century, increasingly educated indigenous rulers might have been able to gradually steer a peaceful transition from medieval Islam to the modern Islam now trying to birth. Instead, colonial rule gave way to an American Middle East and African policy that conflicted with  unchanging religiously-inspired cultural traditions setting off a wave of Islamic resistance, starting with Al Queda.

The Egyptian referendum on a constitution drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood should be seen as part of an Islamic Reformation. This transition is made more difficult by the fight to the death between Christian and Muslim fundamentalisms, both equally retrograde. Is there a qualitative intellectual difference between the rapture and seventy-two virgins? Or between Mohamed’s flight to Jerusalem and Jesus’ resurrection?

It’s only a short step between the rapture and God wanting us to rule the world, and an equally short step from believing that God’s law trumps man’s to resisting man’s laws to the death. The Egyptian Constitution, with all its flaws, must be seen as a valid alternative to Boko Haram and other Salafist militias intent on imposing God's law exclusively.

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