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Eliana Benador: Five Years After Cairo, Secular Muslims Dream of Democracy

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Ever since Obama's 2009 Cairo Speech, Muslims from different corners of Islam have answered his call in their very own ways, from the dangerous Islamists and noisy radicals, to the silent moderates and the resident-abroad seculars.

Egyptians celebrate in Cairo's landmark of Tahrir Square on June 3, 2014 after ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won 96.9 percent of the vote in Egypt's presidential election. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

With his infamous 2009 Cairo Speech, President Barack Hussein Obama intended to bring light to the Muslim world; instead, he lit up the fuse to the dynamite.

Using the Egyptian Parliament as a platform, a rude Obama violated protocol by inviting the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, sworn enemies of then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who did not attend.

Since then, Muslims from different corners of Islam have answered his call in their very own ways, from the dangerous Islamists and noisy radicals, to the silent moderates and the resident-abroad seculars.

Photo Credit: White House Photo Credit: White House

In his commemorative article, “The Mirage of Political Islam,” Mustapha Tlili reveals the origins of the Cairo Speech:

“... it was part of the road map based on the advice of the 2008 report “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations With the Muslim World,” drafted by the leadership group on United States-Muslim engagement, composed of former senior government officials, both Democrat and Republican, as well as scholars (myself included), political analysts and international relations experts. All of us were concerned about the divide between America and the Muslim world, and we recommended that the new president deliver a major speech in a significant Islamic capital — Cairo, Istanbul, Jakarta or Rabat — directly addressing the Muslim world. That’s what Mr. Obama did at Cairo University on June 4, 2009.”

Obama obliged. And now we know why.

They were “concerned about the divide between America and the Muslim world,” but not in the sense of the missing apology still owed in connection with their responsibility vis-a-vis Sept. 11, 2001. Far from that.

In his article, Tlili completely misses the point when he writes that it is the American president’s job to “rehabilitate Islam and Islamic civilization” and to “redeem America in the eyes of the global Muslim community after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

Speaking of the latter, why does he not turn the tables around and ask Muslim governments why they did not stop Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and massacres, or why they did not send a massive group of Muslim troops to arrest and prosecute Osama bin Laden and his terrorists in Afghanistan, for being behind the massacre against America?

A picture taken on June 04, 2009 shows US President Barack Obama delivering his much-anticipated message to the Muslim world from the auditorium in the Cairo University campus in Cairo during a one-day visit to Egypt. Three years after he promised a rapt audience in Cairo a shift in his country's unpopular Middle East policy, US President Barack Obama goes to the election trailed by disappointment in a region swept by change. Credit: AFP/Getty Images A picture taken on June 04, 2009 shows US President Barack Obama delivering his much-anticipated message to the Muslim world from the auditorium in the Cairo University campus in Cairo during a one-day visit to Egypt. Three years after he promised a rapt audience in Cairo a shift in his country's unpopular Middle East policy, US President Barack Obama goes to the election trailed by disappointment in a region swept by change. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

Meanwhile, the newcomers, the secular Muslims, have severed ties with their roots in search for greener pastures.

The geographical distance makes it almost impossible for them to achieve any glimmer of real change in their own countries or those of their progenitors.

Certainly, they have overseen the unwritten "how-to-reform-your-own-religion" manual whereby true reform should at least be initiated from the inside.

History records what a successful religious reformation looks like. Martin Luther was a German monk whose questions of Catholic dogma led to the Protestant Reformation:

“In January 1521, the Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther. He was then summoned to appear at the Diet of Worms, an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire. He refused to recant and Emperor Charles V declared him an outlaw and a heretic. Luther went into hiding at Wartburg Castle. In 1522, he returned to Wittenberg and in 1525 married Katharina von Bora, a former nun, with whom he had six children.”

It is evident that it is one thing to fight for reform from the inside and be punished, exiled, for doing so while it is something completely different to desert one’s religion and condemn and criticize it from the safety and comfort of a residence abroad.

Furthermore, secular Muslims are finding solace in the Hellenistic notion of “democracy,” beloved by them with the same intensity that they detest the Koran.

A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and of ousted president Mohamed Morsi runs past a burning vehicle during clashes with security officers close to Cairo's Ramses Square, on August 16, 2013. Backers of Egypt's ousted president pledged to stage daily demonstrations as they ended a day of angry protests in which at least 75 people were killed during the day. Credit: AFP/Getty Images A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and of ousted president Mohamed Morsi runs past a burning vehicle during clashes with security officers close to Cairo's Ramses Square, on August 16, 2013. Backers of Egypt's ousted president pledged to stage daily demonstrations as they ended a day of angry protests in which at least 75 people were killed during the day. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

Their Islamist brothers, under the influence of the revered Tariq Ramadan, also vehemently want to make the world believe their allegiance to democracy.

The Western political system is becoming a lifeline to Islamists who will use it to advance Islam once they become the uncontested demographic majority. Admittedly, a subtle but realistic plan.

As for secular Muslims, they are also convinced democracy is the missing magic potion, which will help them achieve their liberal goals of freedom, human rights, elections, freedom of the press, and more. The democracy painkiller will help secular Muslims soothe their sufferings and fulfill their hopes.

"Don't call me a country in transition. Call me a democracy startup,” told Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde, during a meeting lately.

It is clear that Muslims have joined in full force the ranks of "democratomania."

Mr. Tlili complains in his article about Obama missing the opportunity to help a failing governance both in Egypt and in Tunisia. He muses: “if the administration had been more critical of the Brotherhood’s infringements of democratic rights, it might have avoided this situation.”

Ah, America not doing her job.

Throughout his article, the topic goes from Islamists to seculars and all the problems in between, but the denial continues. Their issue is not the lack of reciprocity building churches in Muslim countries as there are abundant mosques in the West. The problem is America not doing a good job.

Indeed, in his closing statement, America is given the role of butler of secular Muslims:

“This is not only for the sake of social justice, but also to shut the door on Islamism, both 'moderate' and jihadist. In this difficult task, America should help, not hinder, the secular democrats of the Muslim world. It is in America’s national interest.”

Be that as it may, the crude reality is that the secular Muslim voices are getting lost in the vast ocean of liberal democrats who by themselves, slowly and surely, are achieving their goal to, irreparably, destroy the world.

Secular Muslims should stop the pretense that they speak on behalf of their people because they do not. Away from their own lands, with no allegiance to the Koran, and with no constituency, secular Muslims only represent themselves.

Eliana Benador: strategist, risk consultant, adviser, intelligence analyst, opinion writer, speaker. Founder of Benador Associates and Benador International. Her website is www.elianabenador.com. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook.

Feature Photo:(AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

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