In a wide ranging address late yesterday Dr. Hussein Ibish, Sr. Advisory Board Member of the Center for the Study of Hate Extremism said Mubarak's exit and the Egyptian democracy movement were of crucial importance to the Arab world and beyond. He said that while the situation is fluid beyond Mubarak's eroding loss of power, the composition and genesis of the democratic movement there was important to understand. He said that while the Muslim Brotherhood was part of the protests, the democracy movement there was primarily nationalistic and ecumenical rather than Islamist in its genesis. The address took place at California State University, San Bernardino during a set of speaking engagements that Dr. Ibish had on the West Coast.
Ibish Begins at 5:40 after Introduction
What's fascinating is that the Egytpian protests are not Islamic in any meaningful sense...though the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized opposition. The symbolic language is not Islamic and not Islamist, its nationalistic, ecumenical, its secular....People are praying publically. Public prayer is part of the culture and part psychological in nature [to keep the government sidelined]....Egyptians are a devout and religious people.
By no means to we know how this is going to play itself out. Prognostications are absurd. It's a fundamentally unreadable situation....One of the noteworthy things of the character of the protests is that they haven't fallen into a pattern of Islamist or right wing rhetoric. ...The smartest thing for them [the Muslim Brotherhood] to do is accept that [their non-leading status with the protestors] and look for opportunities to get in....This a nationalist movement...There is a solid presence of Muslim Brotherhood style people in the protests, its not like the Muslim Brothers haven't told their folks to go out and be there. There is a significant chunk of the protestors who are of a very conservative political bent...They haven't been excluded, but they're not defining it either....The power of Egypt to influence the rest of the Arab world [outside of the wealthier Gulf states] can not be underestimated.
In addition to his position with the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, Ibish is Executive Director of the Hala Foundation Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership and is a Sr. Research Fellow with American Task Force on Palestine in Washington, DC. Yesterday's address was also sponsored by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Intellectual Life and the Criminal Justice Club.
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