Friday, January 13, 2012

Egypt and Hungary: When Majorities Attack

You can fool most of the people most of the time. And, really, that's all it takes.

Most of the people in Egypt support forms of political Islam that are little, if any, different from the theocratic totalitarianism advocated by Al Qaeda. That statement is not based on "Islamophobia", rather it is based on public opinion polls conducted in Egypt, and also on the recent free and fair elections that were held throughout the country.

The following opinion poll results from Egypt have been discussed previously in this blog (here, and in more detail here) but I will give the highlights again: In 2010, the Pew Research Center found that 75% of Egyptian Muslims (who make up 90% of the population) had a "favorable" view of the Muslim Brotherhood, 62% believed that Egyptian law should "strictly" follow the Quran, 95% felt that Islam should play a "large role" in Egyptian politics, 82% supported death-by-stoning for the crime of of adultery, and 84% were in favor putting to death anyone who attempts to leave the religion of Islam.

Then in late 2011 when Egypt held it's first post-Mubarak election, over 2/3 of the votes went to candidates for either the Muslim Brotherhood or the even more radical Salafists.

And speaking of elections, when Hungarians had their most recent chance to cast their votes in the national election of 2010, 52.7% of those who did so voted for the proto-fascist Fidesz party. (This is just slightly lower than the 52.9% of American voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008.) Fidesz formed a coalition government with the Christian Democratic Peoples Party, a nationalistic and socially conservative party closely allied with the Catholic church. Together these two parties control over 2/3 of the Hungarian parliament. Using that democratically elected supermajority, the new government quickly passed over 200 new laws and also made sweeping changes to the Hungarian Constitution.

The newly revised Hungarian Constitution, which went into effect on January 1st, explicitly lists which religions are "recognized" by the state. These, not surprisingly, are limited to the Catholic Church, a small number of Protestant sects, and Judaism. Previous Hungarian law had already established the precedent of "officially recognized religions", but the new law took the old list of over 350 different religions and reduced it to 14! The new Constitution also explicitly recognizes Christianity as the "national" religion of Hungary.

The Economist, that normally staid voice of of "the extreme centre", recently described (here) the current Hungarian government using terms like "iron discipline", "rubber stamp" and "relentless centralization". But the same article tempers that criticism with a sentence that is far more ominous than it's author had intended: "Fidesz won power in a fair election."

Further reading:

History:

Current events:

Sadly, sometimes this is what democracy looks like:

1 comment:

Katy Anders said...

This made me think of the Thirties, when all of those fascist governments in Europe came into office through duly held elections.

It's always more comforting to believe that awful, awful regimes have seized power through violence or at least manipulation of the process.

But that's not usually true, is it?