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By M B Dubbe







Muslim Brotherhood and its objectives
Arab News
December 01, 2012

A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi holds a Quran and a poster of the president at a rally in front of Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Tens of thousands of people waving Egyptian flags and hoisting large pictures of the president are demonstrating across Egypt Saturday in support of Morsi and Islamic law. The rally, organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, is seen as a test of strength for Islamists seeking to counteract large opposition protests held this past week by liberal and secular groups who the Brotherhood say do not represent the vast majority of Egyptians. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell)

Like any other ideological party, the Muslim Brotherhood perhaps does not know the meaning of a democratic state, but at the same time never stops bragging about election results. Implicit in its intention is the desire to dominate and marginalize others. It exploits religion to repress people and lead them as though they are a bunch of fools. A member of the Brotherhood can be made to do anything if he is asked to do so in the name of religion.

This blind obedience to religion is one of the most important components of the movement. Yet it has failed in its experiments. In Gaza, they reached the Parliament and the government, but proved to be repressive. Since the ordinary citizens unfortunately believe them, all the wrongdoings and sins committed by the Muslim Bothers seem forgivable. They contradict themselves by saying that Islam is the solution and also that democracy is the solution. They do not believe in democracy because the members of the organization submit themselves totally to the supreme leaders.

Some may even wonder as what kind of religious interpretation they follow that demands a member to be committed so much to the supreme leaders that he or she cannot make any decision without prior consent. They implement decisions without giving them a thorough rethought and yet project themselves as good people. But defectors and others know very well the problems within the movement and even suspect that some of the members belong to the Freemason movement.

In Tunisia, just a few days ago, thousands of people took to the street calling for the removal of Rachid Ghannouchi who tried to exploit the West by pretending that he embraced some democratic and civil changes.

Members of the Nahada Party too have demanded that Ghannouchi stops interference. There are signs of defections within the party as many rejected his domination, his constant orders to ministers and attempts to harm liberal parties. Ghannouchi is a clear example of the situation the Muslim Brotherhood is in. At the Washington Institute, he said that the end of dictatorship paved the way for pluralism in Tunisia. He pledged that Islamists would never impose anything on the Tunisian society especially policies that constrained liberty and freedom. And yet at a meeting with an Islamist group he said that his mission was to get rid of the liberals from the society. When demonstrations against the anti-Islam film were held that targeted foreign embassies, he held the Salafi groups responsible. That was a clear attempt to demonize the Salafists and put the blame squarely on them.

In Egypt, Khairat Al-Shater, a businessman and former deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, is controlling the state. He has amazing power within the movement as he has control over even President Muhammad Mursi. Prior to Gaza war in 2008-09, Hamas struck a 20-year truce in Geneva. Tel Aviv demanded Khairat Al-Shater`s personal attendance at the secret meeting. Today, President Mursi is trying to grab power although he was elected by a slim majority that does not really reflect the strength of the movement on the street. President Mursi did not care about the Egyptian people and issued his edict making himself an absolute leader.

The way Washington dealt with Mursi and his constitutional edict is interesting. Statements issued by the American Embassy in Cairo were more explicit than those of the State Department in Washington. In Egypt, the embassy said that the country was on the brink of a new dictatorship. It also added that the Egyptian revolution took place so that power is not concentrated in the hands of one person or one group. The West did not listen or pay attention to the voices of the political forces in Egypt and therefore the Egyptians did not have any choice but to call for the ouster of Mursi.

The Jordan experience is also similar. Muslim Brotherhood rejects the call for dialogue with the regime as they are looking for power-sharing especially after the control of Hamas in Gaza. In fact, it was the Brotherhood that cut off the Egyptian gas from Jordan and also rejected the Iranian offer to provide Jordan with free oil for 30 years. Against this, the Jordanians have no choice but to think of the long-term objectives of the Brotherhood after the latter sent half of their budget to the Brotherhood in Egypt. The Jordanian street had to change its tone after it found out that the Muslim Brotherhood secretly supports a regime change in Amman. For this reason, Jordanians called for the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a radical change on part of the Jordanian street that used to have some sympathy for the Islamists.

These developments pushed some rational members of the movement in Jordan to reject the directions of the movement that were influenced by the Egyptian movement. Some resigned and others tried to pull the rug from under the feet of the movement by presenting a moderate and national initiative focusing on gradual reform. This may compel the movement to rethink its approach and take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Ahmed Shafik, the former Egyptian prime minister under the Mubarak regime, said that the constitutional edict was nothing but a Brotherhood colonialism out to destroy the state institutions. This puzzles political researchers. With no previous experience of governance, the ruling leaders seek to have a total subjugation of the people.

In countries run by the dictatorial regimes, there were laws to protect the movements/revolutions as a means to justify dictatorship. In Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iran and Russia, many were executed under the pretext of saving the revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is practicing the logic of being the custodian of religion. Fears of Egyptians are the same as those of the Syrians who are demanding dismissal of the dictator who has already killed over 50,000 Syrians. The Syrian Muslim Brothers constitute some 45 percent of the Syrian opposition. This pushed some to fear that this might pave way for Brotherhood dictatorship in a post-Assad Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood thinks that it is capable of controlling the political authority in the Arab countries and of establishing a government for the group. This will not happen at all as the practical experience exposed them.

The problem of Brotherhood leaders are that they are obsessed with the teaching of Hassan Al-Banna as if they are timeless universal laws. The reality is different and their concepts are in conflict. They will soon get a shock when they are exposed, because they are liars. When they got loan from the World Bank they said that the latter agreed to the Egyptian conditions and the loan was in conformity with the Islamic finance system. The fact is that they got the loan with the same conditions as were during Mubarak`s era.

© Copyright: Arab News 2012.

One nation `deeply polarized,` the other `discovering fear once again`
Susan Sachs
The Globe and Mail
December 01, 2012

A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi holds a Quran at a rally in front of Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Tens of thousands of people waving Egyptian flags and hoisting large pictures of the president are demonstrating across Egypt Saturday in support of Morsi and Islamic law. The rallies, organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, are seen as a test of strength for Islamists seeking to counteract large opposition protests held this past week by liberal and secular groups who the Brotherhood say do not represent the vast majority of Egyptians.(AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell)

The past two weeks in the Middle East have seen a tectonic and dramatic set of events that have quickly reshaped the region in unforeseen ways, and The Globe and Mail`s Patrick Martin and Omar El Akkad bore witness to their significance: the rockets that terrorized Israel, the assassination of a major Hamas leader, the Israeli bombs dropped on Gaza and a ceasefire improbably brokered by Egypt`s Muslim Brotherhood leader. Who soon turned around and granted himself sweeping powers and neutralized the judiciary. Add to all that a United Nations vote this week to upgrade Palestine`s international status (much to the consternation of Canada). Now even the experts are working hard to make sense of the Middle East. To get a grip on a region in turmoil, editor Susan Sachs talks with Globe and Mail correspondents Patrick Martin, live from Jerusalem, and Omar El Akkad, currently on assignment in Cairo.

What`s surprised you two the most watching all this unfold?

OE: I was at Tahrir Square the other day with about 200,000 other people during a protest against Mr. Morsi, and I was surprised at how many of them did not look like hard-core revolutionaries. I saw families with young children and a sort of carnival atmosphere. Egyptians are no longer scared, and that is very significant. So, whether the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in getting the country on side, it now has to deal with a population no longer afraid of saying what it thinks.

PM: On this side, I`d say the people of Israel are discovering fear once again. There was a real shock that rockets could reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel will say it won, but the Israelis are scrambling. I`m surprised that they weren`t ready for this possibility and you have a rapid move to the right among the nationalist settler forces. There is an opportunity here for a strong centrist candidate to maybe capture the strength of the country going forward.

And in Palestine?

PM: There was an enthusiastic crowd in Ramallah late Thursday night when the UN vote was conducted – so there`s a sense of joy. But it`s modest.

There wasn`t that big a crowd - maybe 4,000 tops - and come morning, a lot of people weren`t sure what it really meant.

OE: During a debate at Egypt`s constitutional assembly on Thursday, the chair paused the proceedings to announce the successful Palestinian UN bid. Most of the assembly politely applauded, but one Islamist stood up and angrily declared that the news was meaningless, since Palestinians didn`t need any outside party validating what they already knew. For many Egyptians, anything short of a total Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory isn`t worth cheering.

PM: Actually, what`s really captured attention here is Canada`s strident opposition to the UN bid. Palestinian leaders don`t like being dealt with as if some kind of errant school child, and the PLO`s point man on peace negotiations says life for Canada in this region will become difficult.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have split Egypt in a way that it seems very difficult to mend.

OE: It`s deeply polarized, and there`s anger on the streets. There`s Mr. Morsi and his allies - and everyone else. The central tension, of course, are the decrees he issued last week - which essentially give him unchecked powers until a new constitution is drawn up.

Remember: Mr. Morsi won with only 51.7 per cent of the vote. And a lot of people who voted for him were really voting against Ahmed Shafiq, who had strong ties to the Mubarak regime. Before last week`s decrees, there was actually a lot of common ground: getting rid of Mubarak loyalists, establishing social justice.

But Mr. Morsi has now convinced a lot of his opponents that he`s really interested in securing unchecked power. Now, I`m constantly surprised by the number of people who absolutely despise the old regime - and yet fully believe things were better under it.

A lot of Egyptians are very pessimistic about the general state of the country and the lack of vision on Mr. Morsi`s part. The economy has never really recovered from the revolution. The tourism industry hasn`t picked up. And now there`s uncertainty around the constitution.

What about the constitutional reform going on right now.

OE: The big concern is how much sharia law will become a guiding principle. Really minute differences will have a very serious impact on how the country is run. As we speak, the Constitutional Assembly is voting on the draft constitution. But virtually every article is passing with unanimous consent, because the assembly is dominated by Islamists: Not a single Christian member, and many of the liberal groups, are not present – they`ve all walked out. That means those most worried about sharia law are no longer participating.

But the Islamists were elected, not only in Egypt, but across the region. Isn`t this legitimately their hour?

PM: It`s the problem of complete domination. There`s a principle here called mohasasa, which says that when you have an election, it`s not winner take all - a sense of sharing power is very much in these societies. I mean, Christians represent 10 per cent of the population, they really should be in that room, but they felt the assembly was loaded against them and the only way to draw attention to that was to boycott it.

Even if this assembly`s work gets through parliament, though, it`s going to face a referendum - and that`s likely the next battleground. I sense this thing will go on a lot longer than Mr. Morsi would like it to.

How is Israel responding to Morsi?

PM: Mr. Morsi`s declarations last week alarmed a great number of people. I was reminded, though, that the Muslim Brotherhood is incredibly well disciplined – you don`t take a step without general agreement with the hierarchy. This was not the act of an individual. They must have a plan in setting this thing in motion, and may have been surprised by the opposition. We have to look at their motives because they are a very successful group at maintaining order in their own movement and they haven`t come as far as they have without it. So, yes, outside the country, you have to wonder just what`s going on.

Is it in Egypt`s interest – and does it even have the ability -- to push Hamas and other Palestinian groups toward any kind of peace process?

PM: There`s an expectation that the Muslim Brotherhood, being the parent, if you like, of Hamas, it can rein them in and, to some degree, we`ve seen them being reined in – in their willingness to accept the ceasefires rapidly, in their willingness, in fact, to support Fatah`s bid at the United Nations. That influence has come probably from their friends in Cairo and also from their benefactors in Doha, their source of great political cover these days. Those two groups have persuaded Hamas to keep a low profile, but that is not likely to stop it from attempting to re-arm. It will build weapons, if it has to.

Is what goes on in Gaza of any real interest to Egyptians on the street?

OE: I`ve been very surprised how little interest there is. Even before Mr. Morsi`s decrees, the focus here was purely on domestic issues. The one comment I heard was about how Mr. Morsi spoke so eloquently about victims of shelling in Gaza - and yet has such trouble showing empathy for victims of revolution-related violence within Egypt.

But there`s only a certain level of antagonism he can show before Egypt`s relationship with the U.S. is in jeopardy. So it`s in his interest to act as a middle man, which raises his profile in the region but does little for him domestically. People in Egypt are very much concerned about the problems of Egypt.

What is the likelihood of Hamas and Palestinian coming together?

PM: These guys are pulling together for the most visible time I`ve ever seen. This is a real sense of movement on both sides.

Interesting, Omar, that there is no sense Egyptians feel there can be any accommodation between the Muslim Brotherhood and those suspicious of it.

OE: There certainly seems to be less hope for that today than maybe six months ago when Mr. Morsi`s opponents couldn`t agree on what exactly they wanted him to do. Now they`ve found common ground so there are very few signs that this is going away any time soon. When the constitution goes to a national referendum, we will see just how polar- ized Egyptian society is. And if that referendum doesn`t pass, we`re back to square one: Mr. Morsi retains the unchecked powers he gave himself last week and we may see people in Tahrir for months to come.

What about beyond Tahrir Square? How does life go in outside the protest zones?

OE: People are getting on with their lives. They`ve had two years of revolution now, they`ve learned to live with protests, they`ve learned to live with what is borderline chaos.

What`s the likely fallout from this watershed period?

PM: The growth of Islamic parties across the region seems like a natural outcome. People here have had lack of a democratic say in most countries for a very long time. The only movement that stood up for their rights is the Muslim Brotherhood and organizations like it, and they`ve capitalized on moments of democratic opportunity.

For sure, there are secular elements that are worried, but, certainly when it comes to the Arab-Israeli peace process, I think Palestinians and the Arab world are looking for anything that will give them negotiating power. They see this as an opportunity get back to an Arab peace initiative, to stop the building of settlements.

Then again, every time I think there`s hope for some kind of resolution something jumps up and stops it. It remains to be seen if this is going to be that ultimate historical turning point.

What does all this mean to the rest of us?

PM: Populations in Europe and North America are shifting, and Canadians care much more about this part of the world – and the turmoil here matters because we want to see calm prevail in a particularly volatile area.

OE: Absolutely. I think Egypt right now is a sort of roadway toward peace in the region. That means the international community has to understand exactly who`s running this country. There was a sense that the Muslim Brotherhood was a group that could be largely ignored under Mr. Mubarak`s regime because they didn`t have any real power. That`s no longer the case, and I think it`s very important to understand exactly how its leadership works.

©2012 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Egyptian Islamists Approve Draft Constitution Despite Objections
The New York Times
November 30, 2012

Members of Egypt`s Constituent Assembly talk during the last voting session on a new draft constitution at the Shoura Assembly in Cairo on Thursday

Racing against the threat of dissolution by judges appointed by ousted President Hosni Mubarak, and ignoring howls of protest from secular opponents, the Islamists drafting Egypt`s new constitution voted Friday to approve a charter that human rights groups and international experts said was full of holes and ambiguities.

The result would fulfill some of the central demands of the revolution: the end of Egypt`s all-powerful presidency, a stronger parliament and provisions against torture or detention without trial. But it would also give Egypt`s generals much of the power and privilege they had during the Mubarak era and would reject the demands of ultraconservative Salafis to impose puritanical moral codes.

Yet the contents of the document were perhaps less contentious than the context in which it was being adopted. Adding to the divisive atmosphere in Egypt, its passage was expected after almost all the delegates from secular parties and Coptic Christians walked out and protesters took to the streets.

Dismissing the discord, President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said in a televised interview on Thursday that he expected to call for an almost immediate referendum on the draft constitution to help bring Egypt`s chaotic political transition to a close -- ``a difficult birth from the womb of an ancient nation.``

“We are going to get out of this short bottleneck hugging each other,” he added.

But Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader and former United Nations diplomat, compared the proposed constitution to the charters that Egypt`s former authoritarian rulers passed in rigged plebiscites. “It will not survive,” he said.

The Coptic Church, whose members are believed to make up about 10 percent of Egyptians, directed its representatives on the assembly to boycott the vote. One representative said the constitution represented only the Islamists who had drafted it. “Not the constitution of Egypt,” the church negotiator, Kamel Saleh, told the state newspaper Al Ahram.

But several independent analysts said the hasty way in which it was prepared led to more problems than any ideological agenda. Instead of starting from scratch and drawing on the lessons of other countries, the deadline-conscious drafters tinkered with Egypt`s existing Constitution, without attempting to radically remake Egyptian law in any particular direction, said Ziad Al-Ali, who has tracked the assembly for the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental organization in Sweden.

On the question of Islamic law`s place in Egyptian jurisprudence, the assembly left unchanged a longstanding article at the beginning of the text grounding Egyptian law in the “principles of Islamic law.”

But in an attempted compromise between the ultraconservatives and their liberal opponents, the proposed constitution added a new article defining those principles in accordance with established schools of Sunni Muslim thought.

Some liberals expressed fear that conservatives Islamist judges and lawmakers could ultimately use the new clause to push Egypt to the right. But liberals who signed on to the compromise said the language was broad enough to give judges grounds to argue for individual rights, too.

Egypt`s generals, who seized power at Mr. Mubarak`s ouster and who relinquished it to Mr. Morsi only in August, retain many of their prerogatives. The defense minister would be chosen from the military`s officers. Insulating the armed forces from parliamentary oversight, a special council that includes military officers would oversee military affairs and the defense budget. And the military would retain the ability to try civilians in military courts if they are accused of damaging the armed forces. On individual rights, the constitution is a muddle. Believers in any of the three Abrahamic religions -- Islam, Christianity and Judaism -- are guaranteed the freedom of worship, but only those three.

The constitution calls for freedom from discrimination, but does not specify whether women or religious minorities are protected. A provision on women`s equality was left out to avoid a dispute after ultraconservatives insisted that women`s equality should be qualified by compliance with religious laws.

The text also offers no guidance about how to balance its broad protections of freedom of expression against other provisions protecting people or religions from insults. “These contradictions were either intentional or based on ignorance of how rights should be protected, or both,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who tracked the document.

In some places, the charter also provides for “society” as well as the state to play a role in upholding family values or moral standards, which critics said could open the door to vigilante pressure from self-appointed moral guardians. “Is `society` me and my friends in my neighborhood?” asked Mr. Ali of the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance.

He noted that another article in the document calls for the election of local councils in each province but keeps all the power in the hands of federally appointed governors. And even though Egypt`s pervasive public corruption was a major complaint by those who forced Mr. Mubarak from power, the assembly declined to borrow any international models to promote transparency, he said. “There won`t be a huge improvement in the way government works and the way services are delivered, and that is a setback for democracy.”

Mohamed Mohyi el-Din, a delegate in the assembly, opened the session by pleading for more time to try to reach consensus. “We shouldn`t rush the draft of the constitution because we`re afraid of this or that, or because there`s a `million-man` march today or tomorrow,” he said.

Some of the secular boycotters wanted “to topple the assembly” to embarrass its Islamist leaders, Mr. Mohyi el-Din said, while the Islamists were rushing “to save the president.” Both sides are maneuvering for parliamentary elections, but Mr. Mohyi el-Din begged them to put partisanship aside. “Our ultimate goal is Egypt,” he said.

Sitting atop the raised dais in the wood-paneled chamber of the upper house of Parliament, Judge Hossam el-Gheriani, the assembly`s chairman, would not be delayed. He refused to wait for negotiations to lure back the boycotters. “We will start work,” he said, “and we`re waiting for them to catch up to us.”

Secular opposition groups have called for a protest against the charter on Friday. And on Sunday, the Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to issue a ruling that could dissolve the assembly, which was the reason for the rush.

Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting

© Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.






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