Monday, 28 March 2011

The leaders/members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are not ‘just like us’





[Above: the symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sort of says it all, really. Left: Muslim Brotherhood supporters protesting against the 'oppressive and anti-Islamic' regime in Cairo. Judging by the banner alone, what the Muslim Brotherhood would like to put in its place is almost bound to be a lot worse. And for one main reason only. The MB will utterly destroy Egypt economically. And from that, all sorts of Islamist outrages and repressions will follow.]

EDL Extra comments on The New York Times article, 'Islamist group is a rising force in the new Egypt', by Michael Slackman, March 24th, 2011. (Comments are in red.)



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CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes. [What astounds me is the level of gullibility or sheer ignorance of the Western press – especially the left-leaning media – on these issues. Or has it really been a case of massive wish-fulfilment: the wish that Egyptians, being ‘basically just like us’, are bound to have a revolution just as we’d have a revolution and create the political structures which we would create. You know, everyone wants Freedom Justice and specifically Western forms of democracy – and it’s racist to deny that. No. It’s actually racist to think that of all Arabs and all Muslims; especially of Muslim Arabs!


They don’t ‘just want democracy’ – even a democracy cashed out in totalitarian Islamic terms. This is not just another proto-democracy in the making. It never has been. Egypt has been Muslim, more or less, since AD 639. It has been battling with the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1920s. Indeed 'battling' may be the wrong word in that the MB has taken over, but sometimes lost, whole areas of the middle class professions, from the legal professions to the universities. And despite all that, the left-wing press has either ignored the MB, at least up until now, or it has downplayed its importance – because even the Islamists and authoritarian MB ‘really wants democracy just like us’ – to think otherwise is racist.] It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment. [I’m not sure if that’s true. Did ‘secular activists’ ever ‘propel’ what has just happened in Egypt? Or is it a case that leftist journalist have simply assumed that if these people were involved in the ‘revolution’ (however loosely we take that word), then they simply must have been secular activists (rather than Islamists or members of the MB).


But there was a revolution in Iran (1979) which was won and run by Islamists. The same things have happened, more or less, in Algeria, the Sudan and other Muslim countries. None of these have established anything close to being Western-type democracies, or, indeed, any kind of democracies.] As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it. [The other thing we must realise about the Muslim Brotherhood is that it has always used democratic systems to get what it wants; sometimes at the very same time that it was using terrorism and assassinations to achieve what it wants! Look at Hamas; a subgroup of the Muslim Brotherhood. This organisation, and all its other subgroups (including the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain) has consistently used democracy, or democratic procedures, at one and the same time as honestly admitting that its sole aim was to establish Islamic states with full sharia law.


After all, all sorts of Trotskyists and Communists, within our own country, have used and abused democracies and democratic systems to get what they want. The Trots want a complete overthrow of the system. So too with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. That’s why IslamoTrots like the Respect Party, and their leader Salma Yaqoob, don’t feel at all guilty or hypocritical about taking part in a system, or systems, which, if they could, they would destroy entirely. That’s if these systems, or this system, ever gave them the power to destroy ‘capitalism’, or ‘capitalist democracy’, or ‘neo-liberalism’, completely. None of this should be a revelation to anyone. We have had ‘enemies within’ at all times.] “There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.” [All this has always happened as well. The Egyptian military and the State have always played bat and ball with the Muslim Brotherhood. In times when the state, or the military, needed to appeal to the devout Muslim middle class, or to control the rebellious Islamist poor, they would knock on the door of the MB. When they didn’t need the MB; then they severely restricted what it could do. Sometimes they even imprisoned or killed its leaders. The same backwards-and-forwards movements between Muslim states and Islamists groups have also occurred in nearly all Muslim countries, including Algeria, Pakistan, the Sudan, and even in Palestine.] There is a battle consuming Egypt about the direction of its revolution, and the military council that is now running the country is sending contradictory signals. [If it ever was a genuine revolution. Perhaps that’s just a shallow semantic question.] On Wednesday, the council endorsed a plan to outlaw demonstrations and sit-ins. Then, a few hours later, the public prosecutor announced that the former interior minister and other security officials would be charged in the killings of hundreds during the protests. Egyptians [some Egyptians!] are searching for signs of clarity in such declarations, hoping to discern the direction of a state led by a secretive military council brought to power by a revolution based on demands for democracy, rule of law and an end to corruption. [Is that really true? Was this ‘revolution’ ever really ‘based on demands for democracy, the rule of law’? (We can agree about ‘corruption’.) I don’t think, on the whole, it was. And, in any case, Westerners really must get their brains in order and realise that all these high-minded concepts, such as [democracy] and [the rule of law], can mean very different things to Muslims. For example, a democratic system can just mean a system that is truly Islamic. As for the rule of law. That may well be the rule of sharia law. It simply depends, I suppose, on which Muslims we are talking to. However, the leftist Western press gives us the impression that each and every Egyptian Muslim wants the rule of law and the kind of democracy which we’ve got. That is palpable crap!] “We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.” [Some of those ‘bearded people’, the Islamists, will be pretty young themselves. Islamism is largely a young person's phenomenon; just as is Trotskyism or Communist activism is – even if those at the top, or in the Central Committee, are not so young.] The Muslim Brotherhood is also regarded warily by some religious Egyptians, who see it as an elitist, secret society. These suspicions have created potential opportunities for other parties. [That’s another thing we have to look out for. Not just the conflicts which are bound to arise between the Muslim Brotherhood and ‘secular’ organisations and individuals; but also those between, as ever, rival Islamist and Muslim organisations. For example, the MB has been targeted as weak and ‘un-Islamic’ by a whole host of even more extreme Muslim or Islamist groups throughout the Arab world. For example, because of its cynical commitment to democratic procedures or systems, radical Islamists in Algerian, Saudi Arabia and even in Palestine, have reacted with violence against the MB. (Islamic Jihad against Hamas.) Although these radical Muslims must have known that the MB was using democracy, or using democratic systems, to bring about Islamic states, they must have still believed that its very participation in these things would have polluted or corrupted its pure Islamic nature. However, after over 80 years of playing with democracy, the MB is still explicitly committed to establishing Islamic states with full sharia law – in that sense; it hasn’t been corrupted at all.] About six groups from the ultraconservative Salafist school of Islam have also emerged in the era after President Hosni Mubarak’s removal, as well as a party called Al Wassat, intended as a more liberal alternative to the Brotherhood. [Let’s see which face this ‘liberal’ Islamic party, Al Wassat, will show in around a year’s time - if it hasn’t already been crushed by then.] In the early stages of the revolution, the Brotherhood was reluctant to join the call for demonstrations. It jumped in only after it was clear that the protest movement had gained traction. Throughout, the Brotherhood kept a low profile, part of a survival instinct honed during decades of repression by the state. [These are classic Muslim Brotherhood moves which it has repeated over the last 80 or so years. That is, they are neither ‘militant Islamists’ nor non-Islamist. They are, instead, complete pragmatists or masters of realpolitik (or of Islamic taqiyya).] The question at the time was whether the Brotherhood would move to take charge with its superior organizational structure. It now appears that it has. “The Brotherhood didn’t want this revolution; it has never been a revolutionary movement,” said Mr. Zarwan of the International Crisis Group. “Now it has happened; they participated cautiously, and they realize they can set their sights higher.” [Most militant Islamist ‘revolutions’ or uprisings in the last half century or so have failed in the Arab world. Is it any wonder that the Muslim Brotherhood has adopted a ‘cautious’ approach to what has happened in Egypt? It is simply doing what it has always done – both within and outside Egypt.] But in these early stages, there is growing evidence of the Brotherhood’s rise and the overpowering force of Islam. When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution. But the most obvious and consequential example was the recent referendum on the amendments, in the nation’s first post-Mubarak balloting. The amendments essentially call for speeding up the election process so that parliamentary contests can be held before September, followed soon after by a presidential race. That expedited calendar is seen as giving an advantage to the Brotherhood and to the remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which have established national networks. The next Parliament will oversee drafting a new constitution. [Again, this is part of a long history of Muslim Brotherhood collaboration with the Arab states it otherwise claims to despise because of their ‘corrupt’ and ‘anti-Islamic’ natures.] Before the vote, Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood leader and spokesman, appeared on a popular television show, “The Reality,” arguing for the government’s position in favor of the proposal. With a record turnout, the vote was hailed as a success. But the “yes” campaign was based largely on a religious appeal: voters were warned that if they did not approve the amendments, Egypt would become a secular state. [You see? The Muslim Brotherhood has never really hidden its desire to create an Islamic state with full sharia law. It is only Western liberals and Leftists who have purposely hidden the reality of the MB from themselves in order to see only revolutionaries as they are revolutionaries; and fighters for Social Justice as they are fighters for Social Justice.


But it’s not just the Muslim Brotherhood the Left has got badly wrong. Dare I say it, without being accused of being ‘racist’, that the majority of Egyptians just aren’t ‘like us’ either. Indeed, as I have said, it is actually racist to think that they are 'just like us'!


Cairo and Egypt just ain’t Islington and England. We will see that soon enough.]

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