08/22/2013, 00.00
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Fr. Samir: Real democracy for Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist project has failed

by Samir Khalil Samir
The Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians, alongside the army, have rejected the Brotherhood for failing to improve the economy and for its obsession with power and the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood is despised by all, but admired by the West. Incomprehensible positions taken by Barack Obama and the European Union. First priority, Presidential elections, to be held soon.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - I am somewhat angered by the Western press, American and European, which defines Morsi as "the first democratically elected Egyptian president." Some have even called him "the new Nelson Mandela", which is beyond farcical.

Morsi, the first "democratically elected president of Egypt "!

Officialy speaking, all the Egyptian presidents were elected "democratically": Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, with percentages of 80 - 90%. But only if we analyze what actually happened, can we understand the reasons that led to Morsi's fall, despite his being "democratically elected".

Firstly, the people of the revolution are the younger generation.  After a few months - originally they opposed to the Arab Spring - the Muslim Brotherhood entered the scene. And since they are the most organized group in the country - a very authoritarian and capillary group copied on the Soviet system - when elections were held, they won.

But they also won because there was no organized opposition: the young people were too inexperienced; tried and tested politicians were excluded because part of the old regime of Mubarak. Added to this is the fact that the Egyptian population, 40% illiterate, voted in a general way for those who supported Islam and their religion.

We also know that hundreds of millions of dollars was pumped into Egypt by Qatar to pay the imams to allow the Muslim Brotherhood preach in their place in the mosques, it was a form of campaigning. Their preaching vaguely spoke of a new Egypt, without corruption, a religious nation. They found an easy target in a people not at all accustomed to democracy. And even with this campaign's highly efficient means, the Muslim Brotherhood only took 51% of the vote.

But democracy means "people's power". When the young people launched a campaign to collect signatures against Morsi, they exceeded 22 million documented signatures. And by June 30, 30 million were demanding Morsi's resignation. Is this not the power of the people? Is this not democracy?

The Military

Then there is the military. Until June 30, the military never intervened. This in itself is quite amazing: if we look at Egypt's recent history then we have to admit that the army has always been present, influencing elections, the economy, etc. ..

I would like to point out two important things. First, during the revolution in Tahrir Square, the army always defended the population and can many photos still be seen today where the youth of Tahrir Square are hand in hand with the soldiers.

Second, the military has gained nothing from its intervention in the ouster of Morsi. It is nothing like the days of Nasser, Sadat or Mubarak in which the military took power. This a government of lay people was installed and the military became the guarantors of order. Obviously, General Al-Sissi was appointed defense minister, but the president is a well-known Egyptian magistrate, Prof. Adli Mansur, who graduated in Egypt, Spain and France. In further proof of his professional capacity, on May 19 last Mohamed Morsi had appointed him President of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt!

What has the military gained? In the last few days it has gained nothing other than a hundred deaths. It has not taken over power. The military has always wanted to ensure that it is represented in the new government, and it even called for all parties to present candidates for the interim government. But the pro-Morsi camp refused. Even the Salafists - who are the more extreme than the Muslim Brotherhood - accepted and are present in the government. But the Brothers have refused any form of dialogue, forcing the army to provide security.

The European Union (with President Manuel Barroso) and the United States (with President Barack Obama) continue to say that the army must enter into dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, that it should not exclude them, but it is the Muslim Brotherhood who are blocking all dialogue and who reject collaboration, increasingly and exclusively demanding the return of Morsi.

The army has abused its power, but it is also true that the Muslim Brotherhood, many of them armed to the teeth, have attacked soldiers, banks, government offices, individuals, not to mention dozens of Christian churches and institutions.

The failure of the Muslim Brotherhood's social project

The military entered the fray to support the people who asked for the removal of Morsi and the reason was clear: the Muslim Brotherhood did little for the population. The people wanted them to do something for the economy, to improve food prices, create jobs. Instead, the new Brotherhood leadership did not do any of this.

In April, I was in Cairo and saw miles of cars lining up to buy gasoline. The trucks arrived at the gas station the night before in the hope that the next morning they could refuel and go to work. And this lack of fuel was due to what? To the fact that a large part of the fuel - some say up to 30% - is offered to the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza.

Traffic, already chaotic, has worsened. The repeated demonstrations make traffic even heavier. The population is tired!

Under the Brotherhood, tourism, the building block of the Egyptian economy, is dead or languishing, thanks to all the moral rules imposed by the Muslim Brotherhood (veil for women, women / men separation,  insecurity, violence, etc.).. In almost a year not even one new job was created.

The Brotherhoods' priority is their religious ideology and restoration of the Caliphate

The Muslim Brotherhood's main concern was ideological and social. For example, on taking office,  their minister of culture immediately focused on one thing: that women cover their heads on public television. He removed the Director of Cairo Opera (perhaps because she was a woman) in spite of employees protest, and criticized the fact that the dancers showed their legs in ballet!

The Minister of Education changed school textbooks in use (in Egypt, there is an obligatory textbook for each class and each subject), with texts that have a religious emphasis.

In addition, in the short period of one month, the Muslim Brotherhood drew up a new constitution that strengthened the elements of sharia, or Islamic law, then asked the population to vote on it a week later. I tried to read this document on the internet, but it was almost impossible for anyone who was not a lawyer, to understand the subtleties ... How could the Egyptian people could vote on such a Constitution? Even this was a farce!

Another sign that the Muslim Brotherhood gave priority to themselves and to their power, is that they appointed nine provincial governors, all from their own ranks.

They then made some diplomatic agreements - teased from across the country - with Gaza, leaving a part of the Sinai in the hands of smugglers, Islamist militants, terrorists. This led to the killing of soldiers, policemen, and Christians. Before the Sinai was a very quiet place. It is also said that they have made arrangements with Sudan to give it a part of south-Egypt, Nubia. There is also talk of secret agreements with Libya. ... And the people got tired.

In all this there is a project that the Brotherhood has been nurturing for decades, that of the "Restoration of the Caliphate", which should restore strength and beauty to Islam!

According to Western observers, the people should not have ousted Morsi, but waited for the next election to "legally" remove him. This, apparently, is "true democracy"! But it also would have put the country's social and economic wellbeing in serious danger, so that by the next election the "people" would have died of hunger!

The Islamist project

The attacks on so many Christian churches and homes is also very significant, a sign of an Islamic ideological project, not a national one at the service of the population.

The Muslim Brotherhood have an Islamist project and this affects Christians. Each year, in Egypt, they attack some churches, under various pretexts. This is part of the project of Islamization of the country, because in order to restore a caliphate where all the lands are Muslim. This project also includes the "reconquest" of Spain or at least Andalucia! Egypt persists because it is not Islamic and Christians are very attached to their land. We must not forget that the word "Coptic" comes from "Egypti" the Copts are the original local population, the real Egyptians.

The Islamization means trying to colonize the country through laws that are more favorable to Muslims, but Egyptian Christians resist. In fact, not only Christians resist, but the majority of Muslims stand with them. We have seen as much in these days, where Muslims joined hands and created a chain to defend the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo against any assault from the Brotherhood. Similarly, during the Spring of early 2011, we saw Muslims and Christians holding aloft both the Gospel and the Koran as a sign of their indissoluble union.

A West that dotes on the Muslim Brotherhood

What is really incomprehensible is the esteem and respect that the West lavishes on the Muslim Brotherhood. In the Middle East they are criticized everywhere. They were banned from politics for so long in Egypt, by the various regimes. They are believed responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat October 6, 1981, who despite being a sympathizer of the Brotherhood, had the courage to make a historic speech in the Knesset on November 20, 1977 and sign a peace agreement with Israel at Camp David on 17 September 1978. And they killed him for it.

Even Al Azhar, which is the official voice of the Sunni Islam world has turned against the Muslim Brotherhood and has ruled against Morsi. Representatives of Al Azhar have agreed to enter into the new transitional government, as have some Christians. From here we see that Muslims and Christians are now united in their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.

These can at most attract about one million people to a protest, including wives and children, blocking traffic. Christians and Muslims gather tens of millions of people, all in peaceful demonstrations. And the Egyptian people took to the streets on June 30, were not fanatics.

This is why I cannot understand the position the U.S. president, Barack Obama, who recently spoke against the army, but he never said anything against the Muslim Brotherhood. I get the impression that Obama does not know what to do. For those who really understand the situation on the ground, his position makes no sense at all.

For me, the Egyptian army is behaving normally in the correct way, although there have been excesses, provoked by the obstinacy of the Brotherhood. The army has always been open to the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood, on condition they use peaceful means. But the Muslim Brotherhood continue to demand Morsi's return. If Egyptians were asked today to vote for or against Morsi, the verdict would most likely be against Morsi. The current project of the Muslim Brotherhood is only to create chaos and ruin the country

Now we have to hope for early presidential elections, open to all parties and factions of Egyptian society. We need time to prepare these elections, which ideally would take place with presence of United Nations and international observers ..

The ambiguous face of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood has always strived to appeared as moderate, and they are able to deceive those not familiar with their history. At the time of Mubarak, at least 80 Muslim Brotherhood were part of the parliament, but none of them in the name of the party - which was outlawed - but thanks to their air of religious respectability, as doctors or lawyers with a clear Islamic faith.

Even in the West esteem for them prevails because - they say - they are moderate Muslims. But Islam is not only a spiritual attitude, it is also political. And behind the Muslim Brotherhood there is an anti-Westernism, anti-Israel, etc. ..

The Muslim Brotherhood make overtures to help the people, distributing food and medicine to the poor during Ramadan, offering free medical check-ups, etc.., But they have failed to create jobs.

I am struck by the fact that are allies of Hamas and al Qaeda. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda, who was born in Kafr ad Dawwar June 19, 1951, and raised in Maadi (a middle-class neighborhood of Cairo), comes from a famous family (his maternal uncle, Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha, was the first Secretary General of the Arab League). At 14 he entered the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, and becomes a follower of Sayyid Qutb, the most famous Muslim Brotherhood theoretician, who was sentenced to death under Nasser, along with six other members of the Brothers, August 29, 1966 and executed by hanging.

It is clear that the Brothers are not to be identified with the terrorists. However, there is a tendency among them to use all means possible, including violence, to achieve their ideal. We saw as much last week in Cairo where some took to the streets against the army with guns, while others stayed at home or in the mosque.

We should also mention here their two faced statements of recent days: speaking to English language media they depicted themselves as victims of democracy, emphasizing human rights, the army's violence, the "coup", etc. ...instead to Arab media they spoke of the struggle against the West, the positions to be taken of jihad to strengthen and rebuild the caliphate.

In conclusion: finding a path to peace and democracy

In conclusion, I should mention one point. Democracy is a word made up of two Greek words: demos and kratos, meaning "people" and "power." Now, I ask everyone: do the protests of the Egyptian people, that have involved tens of millions of adult citizens, not represent the opinion of the people? If this is not the voice of "democracy", then what is I wonder: in systematically arranged elections? The Egyptian people have expressed their desire and will very clearly, by taking peacefully to the streets. The army has supported this desire, sometimes imperfectly, with the intention of protecting the people.

Our wish and our hope (I speak in the name of Egyptian citizens) is that the West will help the Egyptian people at this difficult time, to establish, peacefully and legally, a government representative of the majority, without excluding minority voices. It would be a positive step towards the true democracy that is so deeply desired!


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