Burning books in Cairo

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Any number of political analysts have tried to write off the electoral gains by Islamist parties in Egypt, insisting that once in power, groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour Party will take a pragmatic approach to governing.

It is the same nonsense that was spouted as the Nazis rose to power in Germany, when the Ayatollah Khomeini made his triumphant return to Iran, when Yasser Arafat's PLO terrorist organization was elevated to the status of a national government, and when Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election.

On December 17, an Egyptian mob - presumably of the type that has been voting for the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Nour - demonstrated that they have no intention of "modernizing" or adopting Western-style pragmatism when they torched the Institute of Egypt in Cairo.

Among the casualties of the Islamist assault were some 192,000 rare books and manuscripts.

The Institute of Egypt was established by Napoleon Bonaparte when he invaded Egypt in the late 18th century. For centuries the Institute of Egypt housed priceless chronicles of the nation's history, as well as the findings of hundreds of top scholars and scientists.

The Institute of Egypt symbolized Egypt's connection to the West, and for many its establishment was the start of the "modern era" in Egypt. And that is why it had to go. Because Egypt's Islamists have no intention of modernizing, not on Western terms, at any rate. Like the Ayatollahs in Iran and Hamas in Gaza, their ultimate goal is to return Egypt to a medieval form of life where a strict interpretation of Sharia Law governs the actions of all.

The first to suffer will be Egypt's Christians. They are suffering already.

But most of this is being ignored by an international community determined to paint the "Arab Spring" as a positive phenomenon. It is certainly a positive thing to throw off the yoke of a repressive dictatorship. But it is a negative thing to replace that repressive dictatorship with oppressive theocratic rule.

That the world is championing this change in Egypt when just 30 years ago the same scenario played out in Iran with devastating results just goes to show that mankind is doomed to never learn from his mistakes.

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