Making Room For The Muslim Brotherhood

Hussein Ibish warns that institutionalizing “the exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood will be a catastrophe”:

The lessons from the Algerian experience must hang heavy in the air. The Brotherhood left no choice for the whole rest of society, united, to reject their governance. But, if they stay within the law and eschew major outpourings of violence, they should not be persecuted or prosecuted. If they turn to violence, as some of their rhetoric suggests they might, this will be a calamity. It will lead to civil war, at least of a kind. They will lose, but it will be a generalized catastrophe.

If, on the other hand, non-Islamist forces who have now seized power by popular acclimation seek to systematically exclude the Brothers even if they continue to try to play by the new rules, they will be courting disaster. They must allow the Brotherhood to run in upcoming elections, and hope that they will learn their lesson and behave in a more reasonable, normative and inclusive manner if elected. If not, they will be rejected again. Democracies, from the outset, have always had to incorporate and accommodate non-democratic and authoritarian-minded forces (which the Brotherhood most certainly is) in spite of their hostility to the pluralistic order in which they participate. It is one of the great hazards of a free, open and democratic system: to be true to itself, it must generously afford oppressive groups more liberty than such groups would allow anyone else.