Islamic Governance is Bad Governance

Islamist rulers are incompetent as well as tyrannical.

The New York Times reports a shift in the atmosphere of the mass protests and riots that followed the Egyptian Army's ouster of Mohamed Morsi, once freely-elected President of Egypt.

The continuing protests against the military takeover here showed signs on Friday of shifting into a movement against the authoritarian tactics of the new government rather than one demanding the return of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.

The Times believes that rather than demanding the return of the Muslim Brotherhood to power, the Egyptian-in-the-street has realized that the army-backed government is just as tyrannical and just as incompetent economically as Mr. Muraback's government was.

"I'm not ready to take a bullet for Morsi," said a 37-year-old Muslim Brotherhood member who gave only his first name, Hani. "It's a matter of democracy - not a person."

Competence Matters, Not just Theology

The protests that brought down Egypt's decades-long dictator Hosni Muraback weren't solely about citizens yearning for democracy.  Mr. Murabak's "crony capitalism" showered great wealth on the favored few who had the required political connecions, but ordinary Egyptians were getting sick of living in a country which couldn't manage its economy or provide them with decent jobs.

When the Muslim Brotherhood won Egypt's first "free and fair" election and Mr. Morsi took the Egyptian presidency, his administration seem to have had no interest in actually governing as any Westerner would recognize governance.  The Morsi administration was instead preoccupied with imposing religious laws and  exalting Islam over other religions by force, and the economy got a lot worse even than it had been before.

The Economist points out that Muslims in Mr. Morsi's home town hadn't really grasped the concept that they ought to govern competently:

The Brothers in Mr Morsi's home province are floundering. "Everyone turned against us," says Yasser al-Hegg, a local doctor who is a member of the movement.  When they gained power "people suddenly started blaming us for the streets being dirty."

Well, duh!  What did they think voters expect of government?  Competent administration, cleaner streets, more jobs, the usual desires of voters everywhere.  And what did they get?  The authorities instigated and ignored violence against Christians, Copts, and other Egyptian religious groups, and put terrorists in charge of security in previously high-profit tourist areas.  The Brothers were clearly more interested in imposing their religious principles on everyone than in helping their citizens achieve better lives or in bringing in more money.

It Matters Here, Too

By and large, Americans value competent, effective government as much as everybody else does.  Are the streets swept?  Do the trains run on time?  Are tax collectors honest?  Can roads be repaired in a reasonable time?  Do bridges stay up?  Do government agtencies spend our tax money wisely?

The lesson of the Brotherhood is that any government which values ideology over competence risks running into trouble.  The Obama administration hasn't worried much about boosting the economy or creating jobs - they've worked much harder at imposing job-killing regulations and taxes than on job creation.  Will the American people become fed up with economically incompetent government?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

Speaking of the current regime, When Dear Leader tells us that even if raising taxes will be the cause of decreased tax revenues and that it doesn't matter because it will be fairer, we have problems. Is there really any difference in the results that ideologies cause? When will we figure it out that a free market without government interference is the best for everyone. Let's remember a few industries that we have ceded to the folks overseas because of our government. Textile, TV manufacturing, automotive, steer industry, tire manufacturing, energy, etc., etc., etc.

September 12, 2013 4:12 PM

@Bassboat - productive people know this which is why they vote Republican. Unproductive idlers also know it, which is why they vote Democratic - to get more money.

Anybody who works for government or gets more from government than they pay votes for Democrats because they promise to spend more money. Anybody who earns his or her own keep wants less government spending.

Democracies die when voters find out they can vote themselves benefits out of the public treasury. Taxes cover just a bit over half of current government spending. It will end, and then what?

September 12, 2013 5:46 PM

Nate, you are correct about the democracies dying. It will end, then What? We here's why will happen. Italy, France, Great Britain, Etc. Do we want their lifestyle? The lands of no opportunity.

September 12, 2013 10:15 PM

It was different in the past, but few modern Americans value opportunity. They know it's a lot of work. Few are educated well enough to take advantage of opportunity. That's why the Democrats concentrate on equality of result - they can tax the productive, buy votes, and make things seem "fairer." But redistribution is all the Democrats offer. They have no clue how to make the pie bigger.

September 13, 2013 7:16 AM
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