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A warning to John Kerry on Middle East trip: Egypt could become the next Iran

Take note, Secretary of State John Kerry: Under the rule of Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt is in danger of becoming a Sunni version of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US must demand the protection of human rights and back rhetoric with action.

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Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, right, embraces Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the 12th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo, Egypt Feb. 6. As US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Egypt this weekend, op-ed contributor Nesreen Akhtarkhavari warns: 'Just as the revolution in Iran was hijacked by the Shiite clergy in 1979, the Muslim Brotherhood is doing the same in Egypt now.'

Egyptian Presidency/AP

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As Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Egypt March 2 he should be wary of one concerning possibility: Under the rule of Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt is in danger of becoming a Sunni version of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Opposition leaders’ refusal to meet with Mr. Kerry over what they perceive to be as unprincipled US support for Mr. Morsi should serve as a wake-up call and warning to Washington.

Morsi’s first step after winning the June 2012 presidential election was to create an alliance with other Islamic groups, and sideline seculars and liberals who could derail the establishment of a religious state. Next, he gave himself immunity from legal prosecution and managed to quickly hoard more power than deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak ever dreamed of having. After a number of maneuvers, Morsi pushed forward a constitution drafted mostly by Brotherhood members and their allies, ignoring the protests of secular opponents, Christians, women, and liberals against the discriminatory language and key articles placed in the new constitution.

The new constitution sets the legal ground for creating what could become an Islamic state. It restricts the role of the judicial and legislative branches and stipulates that laws and their interpretations are subject to Islamic jurisprudence. It further gives legal-oversight power on “matters related to the Islamic sharia” to Al-Azhar University, the oldest and highest Sunni religious institution in Egypt.

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