Arab Spring and downfall of the brotherhood
The Frontier Post
February 17, 2013
A protester cheers as items ransacked from an office of the Muslim Brotherhood`s Freedom and Justice Party burn in Alexandria November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls` recent remarks over the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid have sparked a diplomatic row between Tunisia and France. Valls denounced the murder calling it “Islamist fascism” after Belaid was shot dead earlier this week.
Reacting strongly to the comments by the French minister, the Tunisian government later summoned France`s ambassador to Tunisia, François Gouyette, to protest his country`s interference in the internal affairs of Tunisia.
The French minister did not come up with anything new and he must be having some intelligence reports that made him look confident to say what happened was “Islamist fascism.” In fact, fascism is a product of extremism regardless of its national or religious basis. Therefore, those who do not know the Muslim Brotherhood leaders well think of them as infallible.
Interestingly, the desire of Islamic movements - whether radical ones or moderate - is to have a monopoly on power and this is part of their basic doctrine. These movements employ religion to achieve this goal. Seen in this way, the Muslim Brotherhood as a school of thoughts has been rich with fascism and the art of exclusion.
No single member of the movement can express an independent opinion. Far from being tolerant, the history of the movement is full of cases where figures within the movement itself were ostracized. The situation is far worse when it comes to their attitudes toward other figures and institutions outside the movement.
But as a matter of fact the Muslim Brotherhood has now been exposed and this will also pave the way for their downfall in future. It issued a religious ruling allowing the NATO forces to intervene in Libya. Ironically, now they oppose the French minister`s interference in Tunisia`s affairs.
Moreover, Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian moderate Islamist Ennahda party, once said that there would be no retreat from a civil state, hijab would not be imposed and his party would not interfere in personal freedom of citizens. However, he was adamant to keep an article in the constitution that states that religion is the source of legislation in Tunisia.
Later, he had to accept some modifications to be made to this article. Commenting on his visit to Washington and meeting with officials from the Zionist AIPAC, Ghannouchi said that he was advised to do so by Sheikh Yosuf Al-Qaradawi in order to secure American loans.
In Egypt, symptoms and aspects of Brotherhood`s fascism are coming to the fore. The party has started nationalizing press and media, suppressing the freedom of expression. Many of the prominent artists have begun to leave Egypt to the United Arab Emirates seeking stability and safety.
The fascism of the Brotherhood does not need French assertions. In fact it is a stark realty. Some of the Pan-Arabists consider this phenomenon as part of an international plot that aims to drag the Arab countries to the backward past.
The Brotherhood has not succeeded as a party, therefore, how it can succeed in running the affairs of a country. It views the state from a narrow partisan standpoint and this reflects the limit of the group`s political awareness. Not surprisingly, it deals with situations with the help of some religious verdicts and edicts and it thinks this will help them run and control diverse societies. It also believes that people will give in for the authority of religion.
Stephan Lakro, a political analyst, said that the Brotherhood members of Egypt are stunned by the resistance of the street. This scared them as they lack the political culture. Therefore, all of their pitfalls came to the fore. Undoubtedly, the Brotherhood is capable of making security and political decisions.
But these decisions do not reflect experience in dealing with the political, economic and social reality. It sees presidency as merely an authority to issue decrees and this is a huge mistake. The problem is that the group thinks that it needs time for experiments while the street has become a force to reckon with that any elected president should take it seriously.
The Egyptian minister of defense recently said that Egypt is heading toward chaos unless dialogue becomes a key issue among all contending parties. In this light, Al-Azhar came up with an initiative that reflects maturity the president lacks.
It is worth mentioning that Al-Azhar has become a national reference point for all. It preempted the Brotherhood move when it selected Shawqi Ibrahim Abdel Karim as Egypt`s next mufti, particularly when the Brotherhood has done its best to control this position in their bid to control Egypt.
The popular rejection of the Brotherhood`s hegemony on different institutions in Egypt and Tunisia should surprise no one. People realize that fascism - whether the one of the Brotherhood or Islamists or Shiites - is hurting and they reject it in principle. People have made a stand against totalitarian ideology as it is nothing but marginalization of others, exclusion and devoid of ideas.
Hoodwinking people is a tactic that some religious movements resort to. Recently, the Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie said that wheat in Egypt is abundant this year thanks to the decision of people who elected a God-fearing president. But wheat is abundant in Russia too although the regime is atheist, who does the supreme leader have to say on that?
The situation in the countries of the Arab Spring is getting worse at a time both President Muhammad Mursi and Ghannouchi have nothing but speeches and uncalculated decisions. This leads to uncertainties that could create an environment conducive to political assassinations and repression of freedom of expression.
This puts these societies at the mercy of a new fascism that aims to gain power and not to find solutions or agreements with other forces. This new fascism lacks a political discourse that includes strategic visions and assure the people that Mursi`s era is different than the one before and that Ghannouchi`s era is different from that of Ben Ali.
© Copyright 2013. The Frontier Post
Column Suggests Isolation of `Old-Fashioned` Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia
Sunday, February 17, 2013
From the What I think column by Bechir Ben Yahmed: What Should Be Done to Islamists?
Tunisia and Egypt are once again making the major headlines. They had opened the floor for the “Arab Spring,” which, during its outbreak in early 2011, had given rise to a lot of hope. Today, both countries have known different outcomes.
Having freed themselves from dictatorship, which had seemed impregnable, both countries had naturally voted into power those that had suffered most from the victimization perpetrated by their unseated autocrats: the Islamists.
Unexpected inheritors of power and authority, these Islamists had been charged with deciding on the destinies of their countries. In Tunisia, their party, which was created some 30 years ago, is known as Ennahdha; in Egypt, they go under the appellation of “The Muslim Brothers;” which saw the light of day in 1928. This brotherhood has succeeded to position itself on the frontline of the political scene within a short period (party for liberty and justice).
Here and there, they promised integrity, good governance and respect of democratic rules. Here and there, they have been doing the essential as far as power is concerned for a period long enough for reasonable judgment to be made on their action.
What is being observed in February, 2013 is rather very troubling: the two countries that are under their rule are living an open political crisis. There is demonstration after demonstration, each with its own number of deaths and injured; in Tunisia, there have even been reports of punitive expeditions carried out by militia close to Ennahdha and the assassination of a political leader, both favored by unbridled Islam. In both countries, the social situation is very preoccupying, security is not guaranteed, justice is not well rendered and the economy is suffering from serious mismanagement.
The most indulgent observer is therefore obliged to notice that the Tunisian and Egyptian Islamists have, in a few months, lost all the credibility they had benefitted from in the beginning. Their performance is disastrous and is proof of the fact that they are neither capable nor worthy of exercising power in an averagely developed country.
They have neither a good strategist nor a unifier; their only horizon is to be in power and remain there, thereby giving a very negative image of Islam.
What then should be done to them? What is the attitude to adopt as far as they are concerned? It is important for us to come up with clear answers to these questions that have been troubling the minds of Tunisians and Egyptians, and even those of the African, European, American and Asian partners of both nations.
To those that are doing me the honor of reading this article and giving consideration to my point of view, I would like to present a personal analysis of the situation as well as a few elements of doctrine in the lines below.
The “Muslim Brotherhood” in Egypt and the “Nahdhaoui” in Tunisia are, for a greater part of them, still at an infra-modern and infra-democratic state of political evolution.
They claim to be democratic and moderate, which is a simple tactical maneuver to win over modernists and democrats within and outside the borders of their respective countries.
As a matter of fact, they have hardly evolved: Islamists they were and Islamists they still are: still clinging to the past and more faithful to their respective organizations than they are to their countries; party discipline is more important than national interest like in agreements with possible partners.
Their closeness to salafists is more important to them than their relationship with modernists; it is more important for them to Islamize the society in which they live than to proceed with a more enlightened practice of Islam.
The support they get from the Middle East - to whom they pledge themselves - comes from the wahhabite fundamentalists from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
From all evidence, they are not any closer to democracy today than they were a generation ago. But they at least retained the fact that it could be useful to them as an instrument to conquer power...which they have undertaken to infiltrate, in Tunisia like in Egypt, one section after the other. They started with civilian rule and are now envisaging military rule.
Nobody has heard them condemn neither salafism nor jihadism. On the contrary, they were so quick to criticize France for her intervention in Mali, and anybody who takes the pain to do so easily provokes their anti-Semite reaction.
Rached Ghannouchi, chairperson of the Ennahdha, and Mohamed Morsi, the president-elect of Egypt, have become specialists in double talk, hypocrisy and duplicity which are all aimed at fooling the people...
And besides, are they the leaders or the followers of their own troops?
In this situation, which is very obvious, I have come to the conclusion that these Islamists have not learned or forgotten anything at all, they are harmful and even dangerous, incapable of ruling a country in the 21st century.
Under their iron rule, and as long as it lasts, Tunisia and Egypt shall be undergoing serious regression.
What then should be done to them? The answer to this question can be obtained from the constant that I have just sketched out above.
Neither in Tunisia nor in Egypt - nor anywhere in any case - have the Islamists obtained a majority in terms of opinion. They obtain between 20 and 30% of the votes and are in power only as a direct consequence of the divisions that are affecting their opponents and also thanks to the help and support of political satellites which accepted, for a meager reward, to be their “fellow travellers,” and stand as guarantee for them.
These democrats need to be reminded about their error, and of the need to leave, without any further delay, the Islamist vessel.
In order to confiscate power from the Islamists, all that needs to be done is to isolate them by cutting them off their democratic allies, to stand as one against them and take them back to their conditions as minorities.
Europeans succeeded to do it in the past with the communists and are even still doing it today with the extreme right.
Perhaps I should add that the Islamists have democrats and moderates among them whom salafism repels and who are attracted to the practice of modern Islam. They should be separated from the old-fashioned and guided toward the camp of the democrats, thereby rendering the most unbending Islamists powerless.
Tunisia and Egypt`s external partners and the European and American camp of democrats on their part should not forget the error they committed by supporting African and Arab dictatorships for too long, without even making any reprimands.
Today, we see them give almost unconditional support to the Islamists: they are supposed to keep their distance, avoid any connivance with them and accept neither their double talk nor, a fortiori, the liberties they take with the rules of democracy.
The Tunisian and Egyptian Islamists are very bad company!
By excessively reprimanding them with the passive complicity of big democracies, dictators of yesterday rendered Islamists more powerful. Today, it seems necessary - and salutary - to keep them away from power, because they are there to cause disorder.
It is also important to isolate the non-democrats and the old-fashioned that are among them behind a sanitary cordon till they evolve and turn toward modernism.
(Description of Source: Paris Jeune Afrique in French -- Privately owned, independent weekly magazine)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Writer Discusses Reasons Why Muslim Brothers Fear Participation in Government
Friday, February 8, 2013
Article by Batir Muhammad Ali Mardam: “Do the Islamists fear participation in the government?”
The political and media circles have been preoccupied during the past days with different reactions that have come from the Islamic Action Front Party (IAF) about the possibility of its participation in the government whether by forming the government (which is almost impossible because none of the parliamentary blocs will suggest that) or by having ministers in the next government.
The controller general of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement put an end to the discussion a few days ago by issuing a statement affirming that the Muslim Brothers, and subsequently the party, will not participate in the government because that does not fall within the context of the reforms that the IAF seeks and because participation in the government is not in harmony with the priorities of the party/movement.
Is the real reason the fact that the party/movement is not convinced of the current conditions for participation or because it prefers to remain in the easiest, most suitable and safest place for it which is the position of opposition and criticism? The experience in Tunisia and Egypt has proven that words are not like deeds. The movement/party can talk for months and even years about the importance of reform and democracy but the situation is completely different when it comes to assuming responsibility and changing from raising fiery slogans to raising pricing, creating jobs and running the state.
The party/movement and its media strategy have a great ability to diagnose the ills of the current situation. If any person, who is not necessarily religious, reads what it says about the retreat of democracy and corruption, the need to change and give power to the people, economic problems, retreat of social justice, spread of poverty and unemployment and all the country`s problems this person would not find anything wrong with diagnosis. This is what gives the party/movement an additional important quality because it is the organization that has the greater ability to diagnose and identify the ills and attract support for combating them.
However, the problem of the party/movement is in the alternative solutions because its “Islam is the solution” slogan receives great emotional acceptance but it does not carry realistic programs and solutions for these crises. The party/movement could in fact create new crises in the event it insisted on implementing its political and social program which does not enjoy the acceptance of the majority of the people, especially the large percentage of them who like the “diagnosis of the party/movement” and its criticism of the reality, but do not believe in its alternative propositions.
The movement/party has not until this moment put forward any clear vision of an Election Law it believes suitable, the required constitutional reforms and the way with which it would deal with the economic challenges, especially energy, water, jobs, combating poverty and local development. Moreover, the movement/party does not have any clear visions of any issue, except for the seven slogans it raised that are of no use and which the controller general inaugurated by calling for establishing the Islamic caliphate from the Firas Square (in Jabal al-Husayn in Amman).
If I were in the decision-making position in Jordan, fortunately I am not because this is an extremely difficult responsibility, I would have asked the movement/party to form the government and lead the state and economy and achieve political reform. These would be bitter months but they would certainly completely decimate any credibility for the movement/party. They know this too and that is why going out every Friday to shout slogans and play the role of the victim is much better than shouldering the responsibility of government. They will not of course form the government or participate in it unless the required conditions are available: Direct Muslim Brotherhood control over Egypt and Syria through which pressure could be brought to bear on Jordan.
(Description of Source: Amman Al-Dustur Online in Arabic -- Major Jordanian daily with pro-Palestinian line; partially owned by government; features relatively influential contributors such as Yasir al-Za`atirah, Urayb al-Rintawi, and Mahir Abu-Tayr)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.