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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Unholy Alliance: Mubarak & the Muslim Brotherhood

I’ve had a dream! (Sorry for using the cliché MLK quote, but it’s appropriate) That dream was that Egypt, the country that I love, would soon be able to shed its old skin, and have democratic reforms that would bring change and breathe a new life in a dying country. That dream was that I would able to say what I want here, without being afraid that someone from Amn El Dawla (National security) might knock on my door at 3 am and arresting me for saying things that are considered “unpopular” by the government. I had a dream that Egyptians would join their Iraqi and Palestinian brothers, be given the right to chose and be able to decide their own destiny. And you know, up until yesterday, it seemed like that dream might actually come true. It seemed that we, in Egypt, were about to embark on an era of changes and reforms- sparked by inside movements and sustained by American pressure- that would eventually bring us democratic presidential elections, and maybe, just maybe, end to the state of political stagnation and corrupt despotic rule we have been living under for the past 24 years. Sure, fulfilling that dream wouldn’t be easy, and there would be a rocky road ahead, but at least we were going to start walking on that road. Good or bad , we would be moving forward, and wherever we would end up going, it would probably be better where we were. The only opposition movement wasn’t the Muslim Brotherhood any longer; we had Hezb Elghad, we had the Kifayah movement, we had the Save Egypt Front. We, for the first time ever, had real options, and the government didn’t seem to be the scary Boogeyman that terrified and eviscerated any opposition to its rule for the past 2 decades. My dream was slowly becoming reality. And now my dream is crushed! What happened? Well, let me tell you. Apparently, the Mubarak government and the Muslim Brotherhood have been talking to each other for quite some time. According to “The Egyptian Today” ( Masr el Youm) Newspaper , they were having negotiations with the top level Hanchos in the Egyptian government and they have struck a deal: The Muslim Brotherhood would “calm down” their public anti-government demonstrations that get the attention of the international media, they would publicly denounce “American pressure” and every other form of “foreign intervention” and their agents, they would not meet or have any kind of deal with the American administration, and to not collaborate with the “Kefayah” or the “Save Egypt” movements. In return , the Government would release the imprisoned MB members arrested in those last few demonstrations , they would release some of the Movement’s imprisoned leaders and members and improve the conditions of the rest, they would ease the pressure on the Brotherhood and Improve the government relations with it and most importantly allow them to form in the near future a Political Party so that they can participate in the parliamentarian elections. The MB promised that if their demands are met, they would not only voice their support for another 6 years of Mubarak’s rule, but they would actively campaign for him. Now isn’t that nice of them? Well, I can hear some of you wondering, “Well Sam, why is that bad news exactly? How does such an alliance kill your dream?” Hmm, allow me to explain: Mubarak has been in a tight spot lately, with the Americans on one hand giving him the cold shoulder and announcing that they would support whomever the democratic elections would bring to power, even if they were islamists, and the various opposition movements making all kinds of demonstrations against him. Without the Americans support, Mubarak basically has no legitimacy and couldn’t fake his way into another 6 years of Power. What the man needed was inside support, support from the majority of the Egyptian people, something to counter the massive hissy-fit that the American administration would have if he ran for another 6 year term and won. He would need to show them that he is democratically elected, that he is a credible leader, and that the people do want him to stay in power despite his massive incompetence and autocratic rule over the past 24 years. He needed the popular support of the people, and not having it, he made a deal with those who did. It’s a desperate move of someone who wanted no matter what to stay in power, consequences be damned! I’ve got to give props to Mubarak: he is far shrewder then I’ve given him credit for. He did it again, but this time he won't get away with it unscathed! Mark my words, this is what is going to happen in Egypt, more or less, over the next few months if both parties keep their end of the bargin: The MB would start massive rallies in support of President Mubarak and against any form of “American & Foreign intervention in Egyptian affairs” and branding those who have connections or funding from abroad ( Elghad, Save Egypt, etc..) as “American agents” who are nothing short of “American pawns” used to serve the interests of their “American Zionist imperialistic masters”. This would lead to the marginalization of Ayman Nour, the only remaining opposition or challenge to Mubarak, cause then Nour would be nothing more of an American agent. The rallies would also allow the MB to stretch its political muscles and show its true size, and ready its support base for the next parliamentarian elections. Whether or not they got the approved to form a political party is irrelevant, because the organizational structure is already there and their candidates are already known; getting their party approved is a symbolic gesture at best that shows that the government recognizes them. Running candidates whose campaign slogan will be “Islam is the solution”, they are bound to sweep the majority of the seats and gain control of the Parliament. In exchange they won’t challenge Mubarak in the presidential election and allow him to stay in power for the next 6 years. Mubarak wins, the MB wins, the rest of Egypt loses. The MB, as the new party in power in the parliament, would have control over new party approval and suspension, and amending the laws and the constitution. They would then start demanding the practical implementation of the Sharia in every aspect of Egyptian life, and if Mubarak refuses, they would start public demonstrations that would denounce him as “Islam’s enemy” and an “Infidel” and there might be a couple of assassination attempts on him based on someone’s fatwa. It will be the Sadat story all over again and the victim list this time won’t just be the Christians. It would include the women, the freethinkers, the liberals, the Pro-US people, and anyone who basically won’t agree with their view or what they want to do with the country. We will be living in Iran and Life would suck really really hard! You think I am exaggerating? It has already started. Check this out: The deputy for the General Guide of the banned Ikhwan al-Muslimin (Muslim Bothers) group in Egypt, Muhammad Habib, said that his group is making negotiations with the Egyptian authorities over plan to organize a massive demonstration in Cairo in rejection of foreign pressures that aim at forcing internal reform for the sake of change. The leading Muslim Brothers figure expressed his confidence that the authorities will agree with the organization on the demonstration in the few coming months which Habib expected to be "attended by hundreds of thousands." Habib explained that the government will make use of showing citizen's opposition to foreign and American pressure, in particular for maintaining the political change in Egypt where President Hosni Mubarak assumed power since 1981. He added that the demonstration will send a message to the authorities stating that in order to be able to withstand the American pressures you have to "accelerate reforms." The deputy chairman of the Muslim Brothers described the activities if the Egyptian movement for the change "Kefaya" (Enough), which is dominated by liberals and leftists with few Islamists, as a mere parade rather that an organized group. It has already started! I’ve had a dream, and now that dream is dead!

13 Comments:

At 4/17/2005 08:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your dream is not dead, because your voice is still being heard! As long as you are allowed to speak, there is hope.

Put your trust in God. He is moving in history once again.

 
At 4/17/2005 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Sandmonkey, if you lose hope, the world is doomed. Keep the faith brother. The battle has only begun and the guys with the biggest and best weapons (ideas, included) are on your side.

 
At 4/17/2005 12:14:00 PM, Blogger egyptiansally said...

i never read the egyptian local news (what we have in english is so limited anyway & with my arabic reading skills it would take me hours to read, and understand, one arabic article ) but your blog gives me up-to-date coverage. however, no need to panic; the fight isn't over. i wouldnt under-estimate the MB. just bc they have a deal with mubarek now doesn't mean anything except that they have a deal with mubarek now.

in the words of fight club, "fights will go on as long as they have to."

 
At 4/17/2005 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous Highlander said...

Sandmonkey 'la taknatu min ra7matulah' = don't give up hope !

 
At 4/17/2005 01:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what will count in the long run is the ability of the political system to change based on the will of the people (preferably nonviolently). Granted the Muslim Brotherhood probably views democracy as a means to an end rather than an end itself. But just as Mubaric may have set in motion forces that he cannot control, the same could be said for the Muslim Brotherhood. It may take a while but just as the Mullahs in Iran are finding out, the ideas they are "selling" may not turn out to have many willing buyers.

Democracy means trusting one's fellow citizens to make the right choices in the long run.

 
At 4/17/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Kat said...

Sam..

When have you known either of these groups to actually adhere to an agreement? While they are talking and agreeing, in their own backrooms they are trying to figure out how to get around it. It's what they did not agree to is what is important.

Liberal movement needs more time and better organization.

 
At 4/17/2005 02:06:00 PM, Blogger AlanK said...

Dont give up hope, the alliance can't last too long, they are after all enemies and want different things and with changes in the region democracy must reach egypt eventually

 
At 4/17/2005 03:14:00 PM, Anonymous Mohamed said...

"The MB, as the new party in power in the parliament"

This will never happen anytime soon. So don't feel grim, we'll be ruled by the pleasant Mubarak regime (in and out of parliament), for a bit longer.

 
At 4/17/2005 07:12:00 PM, Blogger Ron Larson said...

You have it right. Mubarak is trying to implement the Saudi solution. It works there, and it used to work in Pakistan.

Ever heard of the saying "Give them enough rope to hang themselves"? Perhaps that is the solution here. If he let's the MB have their way, then in 6 years the people of Egypt will hate them so much that they wouldn't be able to even voted in as the local dog-catcher.

It will be a sucky six years. But it is gonna suck anyways. Might as well show them what they really stand for and see how well that goes over.

Sometime the only way to safety is through the belly of the beast.

 
At 4/17/2005 09:46:00 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Sam, the road to democracy has never been a straight road. It meanders all over the place. Sometimes it looks like you are making progress and sometimes it looks like all is lost.

You just have to keep moving and keep your eyes on the prize.

 
At 4/18/2005 04:30:00 AM, Anonymous Hellme said...

"Blah blah blah...

Deep, important sounding closing one liner."


- Just a casual observation 6/10 comments adopted the same style - is this herd mentality at work?

 
At 4/18/2005 07:27:00 AM, Anonymous richard said...

I hope you can shed some light on this because I have always been curious, and the media here always seem to slant it this way: aren't "Islamists" by their political nature, anti-democratic? It seems to me that no matter what country any "Islamist" movement is in, they advocate Sharia, a one-party state, no democracy etc.

 
At 9/13/2006 07:35:00 AM, Anonymous Fared Mohammed said...

IKhwanweb is the Muslim Brotherhood's only official English web site. The Main office is located in London, although Ikhwanweb has correspondents in most countries. Our staff is exclusively made of volunteers and stretched over the five continents.
The Muslim Brotherhood opinions and views can be found under the sections of MB statements and MB opinions, in addition to the Editorial Message.
Items posted under "other views" are usually different from these of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ikhwanweb does not censor any articles or comments but has the right only to remove any inappropriate words that defy public taste
Ikhwanweb is not a news website, although we report news that matter to the Muslim Brotherhood's cause. Our main misson is to present the Muslim Brotherhood vision right from the source and rebut misonceptions about the movement in western societies. We value debate on the issues and we welcome constructive criticism.

www.ikhwanweb.com

Dr. Mohamed El-Sayed Habib, First Deputy of the Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, affirmed that the artificial uproar over the feared establishment of a so-called religious state and the related allegations concerning a resulting threat to Copts’ rights and to arts and creativity, following the big Brotherhood electoral victory in the latest legislative elections in Egypt, is no more than an artificial, unfounded controversy.
He talked about the Brotherhood’s vision of the political and economic reform, how to bring about development in its broadest sense, the Brotherhood’s relations with the U.S. administration and other topics that we discussed with him in this interview.

Q: The latest period has witnessed a clear ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood on the political scene as a result of which it garnered 88 seats in the People’s Assembly -Egypt’s parliament. What are the issues that the Brotherhood will be interested in raising in the People’s Assembly?
A: I would like first to confirm that the presence in the People’s Assembly of 88 Muslim Brothers will not substantially affect the form or composition of the assembly where the ruling party enjoys, in its own words, a more than comfortable majority. The difference there is that the debate will be serious, the discussions will be fruitful and constructive and the oversight and law-making roles will be more distinguished. This could have a favorable effect on the decisions of the People’s Assembly, enhancing its effectiveness and restoring citizens’ confidence in it.
Regarding the main issues that preoccupy the Brotherhood deputies, they revolve around three major questions:
First, the question of political reform and constitutional amendment, bearing in mind that it represents the true and natural point of departure for all other kinds of reforms;
Second, the question of education, scientific research and native development of technology since this constitutes the mainstay of resurgence and the basis for progress and advance.
Third, the question of comprehensive development in all its dimensions: human, economic, social, cultural, etc.
In this regard, we cannot fail to emphasize the societal problems from which the Egyptian citizenry suffers, i.e. unemployment, inflation and increasing prices, housing crisis, health problems, environmental pollution, etc.
Q: There are some people who accuse Muslim Brothers of being against arts and creativity and are concerned that your deputies in parliament will take an attitude against everything implying culture and creativity. What do you think?

A: In principle, we are not against culture, arts and creativity. On the contrary, Islam strongly encourages refining the public taste and confirms the need to shape one’s mind, heart and conscience in such a way as to bring forth man’s potentialities and prompt him to invent and innovate in all fields of life. There is no doubt that the atmosphere of freedom is conducive to a creative culture and creative arts, particularly if the latter express the daily concerns of the citizen and the challenges he faces and if they reflect the values of society and the public morality observed by people of good nature and sound minds.
On the other hand, the atmosphere of dictatorship and despotism produces a kind of culture and art that is more inclined towards abject trivialities, indecencies, depreciation of people’s minds and deepening their ignorance. A nation that is capable of innovation and creativity is necessarily capable of bringing about resurgence, advance and progress. Some people consider that creativity is born from the womb of suffering. Every society has peculiar cultural identity and has its values, traditions and customs. I think it is the right of the people’s deputies, or rather their duty, to maintain that peculiarity and to play their role in bringing to accountability those bodies or institutions that promote pornography, homosexuality or moral perversion under the guise of creativity. It is essential to subject those so-called creative works to examination and review by specialized and expert people in various fields. Ultimately, it is the judiciary that has the final say as to whether or not those works should be allowed.

Q: Do you have an integral program for the uplifting of the political and economic situation of Egypt?

A: We believe that the political reform is the true and natural gateway for all other kinds of reform. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political pluralism, the peaceful rotation of power and the fact that the nation is the source of all powers. As we see it, political reform includes the termination of the state of emergency, restoring public freedoms, including the right to establish political parties, whatever their tendencies may be, and the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, etc. It also includes the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary, enabling the judiciary to fully and truly supervise general elections so as to ensure that they authentically express people’s will, removing all obstacles that restrict the functioning of civil society organizations, etc.
We cannot forget in this regard the need to make constitutional amendments, including modifying the text of article 76 of the Constitution with a view to ensuring equal opportunities and free and true competition among all citizens, through the annulment of all impossible conditions that were arbitrarily inserted in the latest amendment of that article - conditions which have emptied that amendment from its substance. The reform should also include changing the wording of article 77 of the Constitution so as to limit the tenure of the presidency to just one four-year term, extendable only by one more term; changing the articles which grant the president of the republic absolute and unlimited powers and establishing his accountability before the legislative council in view of the fact that he heads the executive branch of government.
As to our program for reviving the economy, it comprises several basic mainstays:

1. Reviewing the role of the public sector and the privatization process;
2. Providing social welfare through the subsidies scheme and the restoration of the institution of Zakat (poor dues in Islam);
3. Reforming the State’s public finance (public expenditures, fiscal policy, public borrowing, deficit financing);
4. Correcting the monetary policy track;
5. Balanced opening up to the world economy (liberalization of foreign trade, promoting exports and foreign investments);
7. Intensifying popular participation, through providing support to local councils and reinstating the rights of Islamic Wakfs (religious endowments);
8. Seeking urgent solutions to the unemployment problem till grow becomes self-propelled;
9. Supporting the private sector as a spearhead for the realization of development objectives;
10. Confronting corruption decisively; and
11. Catching up with scientific and technological progress.

Q: The political reform program put forth by Muslim Brothers does not differ from those of other political parties, what is then the advantage of your program?

A: Muslim Brotherhood shares most elements of political reform with other political and national forces. This is due to the joint efforts that political parties and forces have deployed during the past decades, which had culminated in the adoption in 1997 of a common document for political reform called “Political Reform and Democracy”.
Certainly, there are differences among political formations as to the priority to be assigned to those elements, as well as the mechanisms to be employed. There is also a semi-agreement among all political forces on the need to introduce some constitutional amendments- as was mentioned earlier- although some secularists want to change the Constitution in a comprehensive and drastic way, including article 2 of the current Constitution which states that Islam is the official religion of the State and that the principles of Islamic sharia (law) are the main source of legislation. Such a change would be in complete conflict with the desire of the entire people, who are characterized by their strong religious attachment and their willingness to be governed by the provisions of Islam. We must not, however, forget the belief and morality dimension which the Muslim Brotherhood insists on observing in their practice of politics as well as its compliance with Islamic legal rules and precepts such as the discipline of jurisprudence dealing with priorities and balances, etc.

Q: Some segments of the elite in
Egypt and abroad are worried that the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to establish a theocracy. How would you react to that?

A:This concern stems from a wrong understanding of the nature of Islam. To those who speak about a religious state, in the same ecclesiastical meaning given to it in Europe in the middle ages, when the church had hegemony over a State’s authorities, we wish to say that the issue here is completely different.
The Muslim Brotherhood has gone through the latest legislative elections on the basis of a clear-cut program under the slogan “Islam is the Solution”, given the fact that Islam, as Imam el-Banna said, is a comprehensive program that encompasses all aspects of life: it is a state and a country, a government and people, ethics and power, mercy and justice, culture and law, science and justice, resources and wealth, defense and advocacy, an army and an idea, a true belief and correct acts of worship (Imam el-Banna’s Teachings Message). In fact, this conforms fully to the Constitution which states, in its second article, that the State’s religion is Islam and that principles of Islamic sharia (law) are the main source of legislation. We say that the State that we want is a civic state, i.e. a state of institutions, based on the principles of constitutional government.
Imam el-Banna states: “the principles of constitutional government consist of: maintaining all kinds of personal freedom, consultation and deriving authority from the people, responsibility of the government before the people and its accountability for its actions, and the clear demarcation of power of each branch of government. When a scholar considers those principles, he would clearly find out that they are all in full agreement with the teachings, disciplines and norms of Islam concerning the system of government. Consequently, Muslim Brothers think that the constitutional system of government is the closest system of government in the world to Islam. They prefer it to any other system of government.” (Message to the 5th Conference).

Q: Although the Brotherhood refuses to submit an application for the establishment of a political party under the pretext that the Political Party Committee is unconstitutional, some people submitted similar applications which were approved, what do you think about that?

A: Along with other political and national forces, we seek to amend or change the Political Parties Law. Consequently, the so-called Political Party Committee is unconstitutional and acts as both adversary and judge. It creates more problems than it solves and interferes in the internal affairs of parties in such a way as to paralyze their movement and curb their effectiveness. This is one of the reasons why those parties are weak and fragile. Furthermore, we don’t want to set up a political party to face the same destiny as existing parties. The problem lies in the general political atmosphere and unless that atmosphere is changed things will remain what they are now. Briefly, we want the party to be established when people want to have it established, just through notification.

Q: Your discourse sometimes mixes between religion and politics which means that you are neither purely religious people nor purely professional politicians. What is the nature of that dichotomy?

A:Politics is part of religion. I remember in this regard Imam al-Banna’s statement that “If Islam is something different than politics, sociology, economics and culture, what is it then?” He also says “A Muslim is not fully Muslim unless he engages in politics, thinks over the state of affairs of his Umma and concerns himself with it.”

Q: Some Copts in Egypt were so alarmed by the recent rise of the Muslim Brotherhood that some of them declared that they would leave Egypt as a result! What is the nature of the Brotherhood’s relations with Copts?

A: We consider our Coptic brothers as citizens enjoying all rights associated with citizenship and as part of the fabric of the Egyptian society. We consider them as partners in the country, in decision-making and in determining our future. Consequently, the basis for filling public posts shall be efficiency, ability and experience, not religion or beliefs.
On that basis, we see no justification or logic for the concern of some Copts over the rise of Muslim Brothers. But this is due to the bad political atmosphere in which the Egyptian people live and which has led to a general state of apprehension and tension. It has been aggravated by the self-imposed isolation of our Coptic brothers and their failure to integrate in public life.
From our side, we are conducting dialogues with them and are trying to take them out of their isolation, by encouraging some individuals among them to take part in the activities of syndicates, conferences and symposiums dealing with public affairs. In addition, we support some of them in legislative and syndicate elections.
Q: From time to time, the question of your relations with the U.S. surfaces. Do you have any relation with them? Have you contacted them through direct or indirect channels?


A:There is no relation whatsoever between us the U.S. There is no contact of any kind with them. We have repeated that several times before. We are not a state within a state and we are very much interested in reinforcing the independence and prestige of our State and in respecting its institutions. We cannot permit anyone to compromise that prestige nor can we allow ourselves to be a reason for that. If the U.S. administration wants to enter into a dialogue with us, they first would have to get the approval of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. And then what are we going to discuss with them?

Q: Your attitude with regard to Jews is not clear: at times you declare that you are not going to cancel treaties concluded with them if you take power, and at times you say that the holocaust is a myth, what is exactly your attitude?

A: The Zionist entity (Israel) has usurped the land of Palestine, the land of Arabs and Muslims. No proud people can accept to stay put when their land is occupied and their sacred places are assaulted. Resisting occupation is required by Islam and sanctioned by international law, agreements and customs. As to the Camp David Accord and the peace treaty that were concluded by Egypt with the Zionist entity (Israel) in the late 1970s, they are presumed to be thoroughly reviewed periodically by international lawyers, strategists and national security experts, taking into account the local, regional and international dimensions of the question. The outcome of their review should be submitted to the democratic institutions of the Sate for decision.
As to the reported statement describing the holocaust as a myth, it was not intended as a denial of the event but only a rejection of exaggerations put forward by Jews. This does not mean that we are not against the holocaust. Anyway, that event should not have led to the loss of the rights of the Palestinian people, the occupation of their land and the violation and assault of their sacred places and sanctities.

for more news and question about muslim brotherhood please visit www.ikhwanweb.com the only offical english web site

 

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