Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Egypt under Islamists

by Mudar Zahran
July 3, 2012
Since the US Administration insisted early on that the Muslim Brotherhood be invited to the Cairo speech and presented with the choicest seats there – all in direct violation of the wishes of then-President Hosni Mubarak, who ultimately refused even to attend the speech – all options but surrender seem to have been off the table, not only in the Middle East, but in Russia, China and South America as well.
When Mohammad Morsi, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, won the presidential elections in Egypt on June 24, he addressed the Egyptian nation, promising he would "be a president for all Egyptian, Muslims and Christian, men and women." As the Muslim Brotherhood has a history of double-talk and hostility against all forms of opposition, however, why would the Muslim Brotherhood president act any differently from the organization with which he is affiliated?

The Muslim Brotherhood is not only financially capable, but, according to Egyptian researcher Nadine Farag, has provided social services, such as food to the poor, in exchange for public support.
The same pattern might have continued as well during Morsi's campaign: according to CNN, Morsi's contender, Shafik, and his campaign members filed several complaints with Egypt's Supreme Presidential Election Commission, alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood's supporters had been bribing voters with "large sums of money and food" to back Morsi; accused him of using "intimidation, threats and violence" against supporters of the candidate Ahmed Shafik, and accusing the Brotherhood of ballot fraud.

Shafik and his friends are not the only campers unhappy with Morsi's victory; there are also the leftists, or Nasserists, (dogmatized by the ideas of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser) who saw their presidential candidate, Hamadeen Sabahi, equally defeated by the Brotherhood. The Qatari TV network Al Jazeera reported that Hamadeen Sabahi had appealed for Egypt's presidential election to be suspended over alleged voting irregularities. Although the Nasserists share with the Muslim Brotherhood a hatred of Israel, they nonetheless do not want to see an Islamist state in Egypt, and hold an ideological enmity against the Muslim Brotherhood that goes back to the days of Nasser. While outnumbered and out-powered by the Islamists, the leftists of Egypt are still hold some political weight.

While nobody can judge Morsi's sincerity at this early stage, a look at the Muslim Brotherhood's record in credibility might help. A year ago, for example, Sobhi Saleh, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and member of the constitution amendment committee, called on Muslim Brotherhood men strictly to marry Muslim Brotherhood women; they are, he said, "superior" to other Muslim women in Egypt as they can "produce little Brotherhood kids." He also described Egyptian secularists as atheists and Egyptians opposing the Brotherhood as the "People of Lot," (who practiced homosexuality and, according to the Quran, were punished by God). In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood looks down even on fellow Muslims, so how will the Muslim Brotherhood president treat all of his citizens with equality as he promises, and how will he maintain the civil rights of the Christian minority?
As to the millions of Copts, or Christian Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders has been clear: as explained by the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide, Mustafa Mashhur, in an interview with Al-Ahram newspaper back in 1997: the Egyptian Christians must pay a "Jizya"—an extra tax that, according to Islam, non-Muslims must pay to the Muslim state—and they must be excluded from all senior government and military jobs.

Further, while the presidential elections were still boiling, then-presidential-candidate Morsi, threatened by a confrontation with Egypt's Military Council, faced down Egypt's ruling generals and vowed to give away his life for the cause if the Council conducted a constitutional coup against him. Such a vow suggests that the usually non-violent Brotherhood is now willing to use violence to acquire power. Only time will tell if the Muslim Brotherhood will threaten its current opposition with violence.

Morsi has also promised that the peace treaty signed with Israel more than 30 years ago will stand -- a retraction of what the Brotherhood leaders said a year ago, when they called for the treaty to be re-examined. The Muslim Brotherhood's mission statement, however, for the last 80 years, has remained unchanged: "God is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations."

While Egypt's military council has dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament and limited the president's power, still, Samer Shehata, an assistant professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University, says it is "still unclear if Morsi's hands will be completely tied."
The Muslim Brotherhood has waited for decades to take control of Egypt, and now it has a president in office, who might simply feel as the Turkish President , Recep Tayyip Erdogan put it, that democracy is like a streetcar: you stay on it until you reach your destination and then you get off.
The very hard days ahead for both Egypt and the region could have been less severe if the U.S. administration and its Western allies had chosen to support the seculars and non-Islamists; still the U.S. administration seems determined to continue its communication with Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in other Arab countries such as Syria and Jordan. The US might think, wrongly, that if the US is nice to the Brotherhood now, the Brotherhood will be nice to the US later. Or the US may not want to admit the damage that pan-Islamist rule might do to the free world, let alone to the people – especially the women – who have no choice but to continue living there. If the US did admit there was a problem, it might then even have to do something about it. Since the day the administration insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood be invited to President Barack Obama's Cairo speech, and be presented with the choicest seats there – all in direct violation of the wishes of then-President Hosni Mubarak, who ultimately refused even to attend the speech – all options but surrender seem to have been off the table, not only in the Middle East, but in Russia, China and South America as well.

No comments: