The year was 1968. The thought on everybody’s mind was revolution.
The Vietcong’s January Tet Offensive had triggered demonstrations throughout the United States and Britain. In March London’s Grosvenor Square hosted a riot across the street from the American Embassy. Paris was convulsed by general strikes and student riots in May ‘68. President de Gaulle had even been helivaced to Baden-Baden in Germany on May 29, fearing a storming of the Elysée Palace.
These events were the matrix which gave birth to two rock n’ roll anthems – “Revolution” by the Beatles, and “Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones. Though communist revolution never went over in a big way in the West, one can easily agree that revolutionary vision was a heady drug that even today has the power to inspire mass movements.
Think the time is right for Palace revolution
Mick Jagger declared that everywhere he heard “the sound of marching, charging feet, boy!” Over the past few days the TV screens of the world have fixated on the streets and squares of Cairo and Alexandria. The West’s TV “talking head” news commentators – most who speak no Arabic, are ignorant of Middle Eastern history and who really are “new kids on the block” – have found themselves waxing eloquent about the meaning and direction of racing developments.
In a grand total of eighteen days, the leader of the Arab world’s largest country has been forced to resign the presidency and flee his palace in Cairo (Egypt’s capital city) for the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. From CNN to Al Jazeera, BBC to Sky News, there is universal agreement that this street revolution is rapidly whisking Egypt into the modern pro-Western democratic era. PC perspective is that Cairo is experiencing what the Thirteen American Colonies underwent in April 1775 during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, or what Paris experienced in May 1789 during the French Revolution.
The revolution that failed
There are other historical paradigms, though, and they are far less cheery.
The Russian February Revolution of 1917 (centered in Petrograd – modern Saint Petersburg) turned sour. It achieved stunning short-term goals, including the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the collapse of Imperial Russia and the end of the Romanov dynasty. Yet the revolution (like the present Egyptian demonstrations) seemed to have no clear leadership or formal planning. Alexander Kerensky quickly became Chairman and Prime Minister of this Russian Provisional Government, until he was overthrown on November 6-7 1917 by the Bolsheviks in their Great October Revolution. The rise of a cruel Communist dictatorship led first by Lenin and then by Stalin insured that democracy and free elections would be banished from Russia for over 70 years.
The popular riots in Iran in 1978-79 led to a national referendum on March 29-30 1979, with 98.2% voting for the immediate establishment of an Islamic Republic, whose constitution would be determined at a later date. But the rise of a cruel Shi’ite dictatorship led by Ayatollah Khomeini insured that democracy and free elections would be banished for the foreseeable future.
- Popular revolution does not necessarily lead to democracy. In the Middle East it has usually led to even crueler dictatorship.
Egypt – a long roster of military dictatorships
In 1881 Egyptian Colonel Ahmed Urabi attempted a national-military revolt against the British. His efforts were soundly defeated, but the successful Free Officers Revolt in 1952 looked to Urabi as their prophetic prototype.
In July 1952 a group of nine military officers led by Gamal Abd el-Nasser (including Lieutenant-Colonel Anwar al-Sadat) overthrew King Farouk I (a British puppet), abolished the constitutional monarchy and established a military dictatorship called a “republic.” Since 1952 Egypt has been ruled by military dictatorships. President Nasser died in 1970 and Sadat replaced him, yet the military dictatorship remained. When Sadat was assassinated on October 6 1981 by jihadi terrorists (whose movement was birthed out of the Muslim Brotherhood), he was replaced by Hosni Mubarak, a former Soviet-trained commander of the Egyptian Air Force. Yet once again the military dictatorship remained solidly in place.
What most newscasters have not figured out so far is that, at this moment, though the head of government has resigned, Egypt is still being controlled by a military dictatorship. Yet the world crows about the new democracy in Egypt. The present military junta may lead to real democracy. But it could even more easily lead to a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) takeover – as happened in Gaza with the MB group Hamas in January 2006.
“Pharaoh is dead!”
The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist underground organization dedicated to re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate world empire and shari’a law through jihadi revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood; also see http://davidstent.com/words , February 2006). It was founded in 1928 in the town of Isma’iliya Egypt by Hassan al-Banna. Its credo remains, “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”
During WWII the Muslim Brotherhood had extensive links with Nazi Germany, while planning for the overthrow of Egypt’s British-controlled government. In November 1948 the organization was banned while planning a military putsch. In response a Muslim Brotherhood agent assassinated Egypt’s Prime Minister Nukrashi Pasha on December 28, 1948.
Thirty three years later, on October 6, 1981 Egyptian Lieutenant Khalid al-Islambouli (a man strongly influenced by the MB offshoot Egyptian Islamic Jihad) assassinated Egyptian President Sadat during a military parade celebrating the October (Yom Kippur) War. As he threw grenades and fired his assault rifle, he yelled out, “Death to Pharaoh!” At his murder trial he again proclaimed, “I have killed Pharaoh and I do not fear death!”
On June 22, 1995 Islambouli’s younger brother Showki nearly succeeded in assassinating President Hosni Mubarak during a state visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to Koranic thinking Pharaoh symbolizes a cruel and ungodly ruler, whose rule opposes that of God (www.mediamonitors.net/harunyahya40.html). According to Islamist thinking, secular-leaning military dictators who are not sufficiently committed to Koranic Islam are like the evil ruler Pharaoh. They may be overthrown or assassinated at will (http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/1999/issue3/zeidan.pdf).
Egyptian Prime Minister Nukrashi Pasha and President Sadat were both assassinated by Islamists who believed that they were ridding the world of evil Pharaohs. This is the Islamist context that explains the meaning of the cries heard in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday February 11, 2011 that, with Mubarak’s resignation, “the Pharaoh is dead.” Posters of Mubarak as either a dead Pharaoh or as an Egyptian mummy also abounded during these rallies.
Egyptian anchor Amr Nassef (once imprisoned in Egypt for Islamist ties) declared this Friday on al-Manar (Lebanese Hezbollah TV) with great emotion, “Allahu Akbar (Allah is great)! The Pharaoh is dead! Am I dreaming? I’m afraid to be dreaming!”
Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood adherents believe that their shock troops have managed to cut down three mighty rulers in Egypt (1948, 1981, and now 2011). They are greatly encouraged at recent developments, and see these events as a foretaste of total Islamic revolution in Egypt.
Pharaoh’s army got drownded?
In the old Black gospel hymn Mary is told to cease weeping “cuz Pharaoh’s army got drownded.” But that event at the Red Sea occurred more than 3,400 years ago. Today of course the Egyptian army is very much in the picture! It is not yet clear what role the Egyptian generals will play in upcoming and fast moving Middle Eastern events. As we pray for Egypt, its people and leadership, let’s remember:
- A new military dictatorship does not mean that democracy is breaking out. It could mean that – or it could mean that the military will continue to rule from behind the curtain.
- Free elections, if they occur in Egypt, will likely lead to the rise of Islamist groups, probably led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
- If a Muslim Brotherhood-oriented state gets established in Egypt, this will lead to major military tensions between Egypt and Israel, as well as a phenomenal growth and spiritual energizing of jihadi Islam throughout the Middle East.
- Pray for the country of Egypt – that the Muslim Brotherhood will not rise to power through this present anarchy; that God would establish peace and righteousness in that country with a minimum of bloodshed (1 Timothy 2:1-4); and that Egypt would not become an adversary and a curse to the Jewish state of Israel (Genesis 12:3).
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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