The attack on the embassies in Libya and Egypt underscores the concern that Americans have about stability in the region in light of the Arab Spring. A large segment of the American population believes that the Arab Spring will give rise to a new era of Muslim extremism based on Sharia law. They believe that the Arab Spring will result in nations closer in style to the policies of Iran and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
“The debate is growing as to whether Sharia can coexist with secularism, democracy, or even modernity,” said a Council on Foreign Relations fact sheet.
Some U.S. lawmakers and officials worry that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which has had strained relations with Washington for decades, will lead to democratically elected governments in Islamic states based on a strict version of Sharia law that is hostile to American and Western whims.
Mitt Romney has already voiced his concern regarding the outcome of the Arab Spring. In an interview with a right-wing Israeli newspaper, Romney argued that the rise of democratically elected Islamist governments in some of the countries undergoing revolutions turned out to be less of a boon for Western interests than it initially appeared. Romney said, "Clearly we're disappointed in seeing Tunisia and Morocco elect Islamist governments. We're very concerned in seeing the new leader in Egypt as an Islamist leader. It is our hope to move these nations toward a more modern view of the world and to not present a threat to their neighbors and to the other nations of the world."
The legalization of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as their election to office, is often cited as proof that Egypt, for example, is moving towards a more radical view of relations with the West and Israel. Over 30 million people voted (over 60% of the eligible voters) in the Egyptian elections. Over a third of these people voted for the Freedom and Justice Party put forward by the Muslim Brotherhood. The party won 127 seats through the party list and 108 individual seats for a total of 235 seats. The parliament consists of 498 elected members, 10 appointed, for a total of 508 seats.
In Tunisia, another of the Arab Spring nations, the Ennahda Movement, formerly banned under the Ben Ali regime, won a plurality of 90 seats out of a total of 217. Ennahada is Tunisia's major Islamist political grouping and has been influenced and inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The response of the Muslim Brotherhood to the attacks on the embassies in Egypt and Libya will greatly influence whether the Arab Spring will result in a Middle East determined to co-exist peacefully with the western world or one that weakens state authority and gives freer rein to groups that will find spurious pretexts and sporadic opportunities to unleash anti-American violence.