Saturday, December 28, 2013

Muslims Fighting Islam

"Don't let any of the incidents happening now affect the will of Egyptians. Never. Anyone harms you will be wiped from the face of Earth."
Egyptian General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, head of Egyptian armed forces
Egypt arrests dozens under new anti-terror law
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the country would be ‘steadfast’ in the face of terrorism, after a small bomb went off in Cairo, wounding 5 people. Photo: Reuters 
This is the final reckoning of the interim government of Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood's summary removal from power, its Freedom and Justice party dislodged along with its head, elected to sit in parliament as President, and now simply known as former president Mohammed Morsi, charged with a string of capital offences similar to those he presided over when his predecessor was removed, arrested, jailed and faced accusations, represents a complete reversal of a complete reversal.

Egypt has confounded its own expectations, let alone confused the international community by its rejection of its own first attempt at parliamentary democracy. But this isn't the first, let alone the only time that 'democracy' Middle-East style has garnered a result that seemed contradictory to expectations. Elections brought Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamist clique to power in Iran. Elections gave Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood, parliamentary status in the West Bank and Gaza.

Where the West thought of democratic action and elections as a stabilizing influence for the good, bringing to the Middle East some semblance of recognizable people-power, what occurred instead was the domination of rigid fundamentalism. Partially explained by grinding poverty making for more religious conviction of a radical type, and partly because cunningly, the once-forbidden politics of extreme ideological Islam made inroads by doling out food, medical attention and hope to the poor.

Yet the educated class, the financially stable, the politically progressive as reflected in any society watched, appalled as modernity was bypassed by the introduction of a medieval past to rule the present. Leading to blow-back. And where once the Brotherhood was simply outlawed, now it has received another type of recognition altogether; the formality of the expression of legal pariah-status as a terrorist group. Quite deserved, but entirely destabilizing in another way.

The declaration of their illegal status will encourage the Brotherhood elite, those successful in escaping imprisonment and worse, to continue to incite their faithful followers to protest, to riot, to express themselves in any manner creating discomfort to the police and the military and to the population of Egypt at large. They will as well further cement their cozy relations with more overtly violent jihadists, their Hamas brethren, Bedouin Salafists in the Sinai, and al-Qaeda.

Police detain a supporter of Morsi during clashes in central Cairo August 13, 2013.
Police detain a supporter of Morsi during clashes in central Cairo August 13, 2013. Photo: REUTERS

A spokesman for the Strong Egypt Party, founded by an ex-Brotherhood member, gave warning that the label of terrorism "leaves the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters only one choice, which is violence." Further, said Ahmed Imam, both sides are demonstrating "a great deal of stupidity". He casts blame on the Brotherhood for its failure to distance itself from militant violence. And he blames the government for closing the doors to reconciliation.

Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif announced security forces, with this new declaration, were assured an even freer hand to move in response to Brotherhood protests. "Things are totally different now. [Police] won't be restricted". Where previously, gradual steps were taken against protests; verbal warnings, water cannons and tear gas...and finally 'firmer' methods, that can all be bypassed.

Whereas now, under the newly-declared anti-terrorism law, any who participate in Brotherhood protests can anticipate facing up to five years in prison. And "those leading this group [the Brotherhood] could be punished by the death penalty". Criminal felons of the first order, to be recognized as such, treated as such, criminal societal outlaws.

In response, the Brotherhood claims the government's move to freeze its funding activities effectively proposes to "fight Islam". The way becomes clear for "Christian groups to draw poor Muslims away from their religion", through stepping in to aid with their version of charity, to help the dispossessed; a statement fraught with sinister overtones of vengeance re-directed toward Egypt's Copts.

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