by Sarah Posner, for the Religion Dispatches:

The emails started popping into my inbox: First, supposed “ex-terrorist” Walid Shoebat would be available for an interview about how “regime change” in Egypt would elevate the Muslim Brotherhood. “The Muslim Brotherhood, a group to which I once belonged, is supporting these protests,” says Shoebat, “and when you know what the long term goals of the Brotherhood are, you come to realize it’s not good.” He then goes on to compare what’s happening in Egypt to the Islamic revolution in Iran — a theory that Haroon Moghul has ably debunked here at RD. Then Christian talk radio host and evangelist Michael Youssef announced that he would be appearing on CNN through out the day:

“Before you judge the motives of the protesters, you must know who is really behind those young people on the streets,” stated Michael Youssef, Ph.D. “The Muslim Brotherhood has been thirsting for power in Egypt for many, many years. Should they succeed, it will not only spell disaster to the west and to Israel, but also to the Christians and the secular-minded Muslims.”

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From the Economist:

EDWARD LANE, an English orientalist, published a classic account of Egyptian society in the 1830s. Impressed with much else, he had this to say about religion in Egypt: “It is considered the highest honour among the Muslims to be religious; but the desire to appear so leads many into hypocrisy and pharisaical ostentation.”

The same observation might be made today. A generation ago it was rare to hear the Koran recited, except on formal occasions such as funerals or during the fasting month of Ramadan. Nowadays the word of God is a constant companion, wafting from taxi cabs and buses, barber’s shops and fast-food outlets, dental clinics and supermarkets. The call to prayer not only sounds five times daily from minarets but all the time from everywhere: millions of Egyptians have downloaded it as a ringtone for their mobile phones. Step into many shops at noon and you will be told to return after prayers. Call in to the main control room of Egyptian State Railways and you may find the chief operator similarly disengaged, as one panicked signalman did last year when a train stalled on the tracks. He was unable to prevent the next train from crashing into the first, killing 18 people and prompting the resignation of Egypt’s transport minister.

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