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The Waged War on Islam in Egypt Part 1

(It was said to prophet Nuh alayhisalam) “…nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking. And we do not see in you any merit above us, in fact we think you are liars.”

It is remarkable to think that since the UK declared Egypt independent in 1922 and its initial establishment as a Kingdom up to the late revolution of January 25th 2011, Egypt has only been ruled by five individuals. King Fuad was succeeded by King Farouk in 1936. The latter was militarily overthrown by Abdel Nasser in 1952, abolishing the kingdom and establishing a republic in 1953. Government figures who were supporters of Nasser settled on Anwar el-Sadat to administer Egypt but el-Sadat who was assassinated in 1981 owing to his signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1978. Then came Husni Mubarak, el-Sadat’s vice, who was to clutch the presidential post for the next 23 years. Under a hopeful Egyptian Republic, each imposed president took turns to repress any Islamic movement that actively participated in politics, particularly the Muslim brotherhood for its desire to re-enact the Shari’ah and to rid foreign influence on the country. For decades the movement and its followers have been oppressed, tortured and even killed, leading a history of perseverance.[1]

Blamed for the 1948 killing of the Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi who had dissolved the movement, government agents assassinated its spiritual founder, Hassan al-Banna rahimahu Allah.[2] Soon after the, authorities under the same Nasserite regime executed the reputed Islamic theologian and writer, Sayyid Qutb rahimahu Allah in 1966[3]for his passionate stance against secularism. When El-Sadat came to power, he lifted certain restrictions from now the largest Islamic movement in Egypt in the 70s[4].

It was only after the 25th of January revolution that there appeared hope of escaping a predicament of oppressive leaders. The revolution ended a dark era of subjugation that had gripped Egypt for almost a century and brought with it an aspiration for of real change. Though it seems those decades of nurtured sentiment against Islam and the Islamic political parties, designed through years of deceptive media campaigning and persecution has rubbed off on a large section of the Egyptian community. This has redeveloped the hallmark of a Pharoanic society where a large, single section of the society has been singled out for oppression and persecution while the rest insists on servitude to the Pharoah.The Reputation that the Brotherhood had amounted

The accumulated reputation of the Islamic movement stems from a history of social work for the most impoverished of Egypt and was not merely a public relations exercise only done cynically close to the general election as was attempted by other liberalist movements. The Brotherhood runs around 1000 NGOs and subsidises education, healthcare, facilities for the disabled and job-training programmes. Dozens of hospitals are administered by the organisation, as well as schools across all of Egypt and centres for widows and orphans that have been opened to all citizens, regardless their political or religious affiliation.[5]Services are offered at heavily subsidised rates while treatment and drugs are offered free of charge for those who cannot afford them since the organisation’s services run on donations.[6]The trust it developed through the honesty it displayed since its establishment attracted the poorest and humblest who constituted the majority of those who voted in its favour. This reached the extent that even Egypt’s Coptic Christians used to ask when the Brotherhood will form a political party so that they can vote for it.[6]

The Outcome of the Elections

Following the 2011 revolution, the world was to unequivocally ascertain who the Egyptians really wanted in power. For the first time in its “5000-year recorded history”, Egypt was to be free from ‘voting at the stake’ and from ballot box rigging[7]that re-cemented the 77 year old president in power, often putting a claim to 90% of the vote.[8]With Mubarak ousted, Egypt embarked on its very own democratic experiment, in the hopeful capture of international appreciation and respect and to proportionally represent its subjects. The March 2011 referendum offered significant constitutional changes in what would favour the people’s free choice, Islam or otherwise and would limit a president’s time in office to four years. This attracted the approval of 77% of the 18.5 million voters.[9]The People’s Assembly vote then better defined the picture, despite the past decades of political and social repression. With hardly enough time to recoup, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) secured a resounding majority of 235 parliamentary seats from a total of 498 in a vote that extended from the 28th of November 2011 to the 4th of January 2012. The newly developed ‘hardline’“Salafist Nour party”came second with 121 parliamentary seats[10] in what clarified the sentiment behind this vote, namely for Islam as an affiliation rather  than ‘the Brotherhood’ as an organisation. The FJP with the Salafi Nour Party and thus a general Islamic front constituted almost 72% of the People’s Assembly.

Elections for the upper House of Parliament or the Shura council quickly followed in succession, extending from the 29th of January 2012 to the 22nd of February 2012. Of the 180 elected seats, the Freedom and Justice Party secured 105 while the Nour Party held onto second place with 45 seats, translating into an Islamic dominance of the Shura Council of over 83%[11]completely through the choice of the Egyptian voter. The presidential election was then to etch in stone the approval and support of the Egyptian populace for a Muslim candidate. The Brotherhood deliberated over taking part in the presidential elections, initially trusting that a civilian outcome will overshadow Egypt. When remnants of the dark Mubarak era, at their forefront the old leaders of SCAF failed to loosen their grip on government the initial reluctance was removed and the Brotherhood put forth its own candidate.[12]

The results of the presidential elections were declared on the 24th June 2012 following elections that commenced on the 23rd of May beginning and ended on the 17th of the same month, spread over two tight rounds. With over 13.2 million votes (51.7%)<[13], President Mohammad Morsi of the Brotherhood’s FJP exceeded all odds to carry the movement’s dream of restoring the Shari’ah a step closer to accomplishment. Six months into the presidency of Morsi, a new referendum that guaranteed unprecedented rights and reforms was ratified by 63.8% of the Egyptian electorate (almost 11 million Egyptians). The constitution was put to referendum on the 15th of December and extended to the 22nd of the same month[14]following a confusing series of protests against its contents. It affirmed the Shari’ah as the main source of legislation (article 2), “the principles of the legislations for Christian and Jewish Egyptians” as their main sources of legislation, “the right to establish worshipping places for monotheist religions”, a ban on putting citizens to trial under military tribunals, “democracy and Shura”,as a replacement for “pluralism”, free motherhood and childhood services and a ban on the suspension of media organisations among other commendable articles. All of the aforementioned articles are absent in the old constitution.[15]

In fact the only reason that can be presumed for it needing to go to referendum is that it was formed by an “Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly”, not because it failed to “guarantee the equality of men and women”. The constitution did, however, categorically refuse to equate the roles of the genders in society as oppose to “their rights”, as per the norms and customs of the Muslim-majority Egyptian nation. Nevertheless, the vote that favoured the constitution, the fifth in favour of the Islamic parties proved the deathblow to any remaining legitimacy held by the liberals. Their choice to vote ‘no’ rather than abstain further highlighted their hopelessness in assembling support.

An Ongoing Media Campaign

Contrary to popular belief, the war on the Islamic political candidates and figures in the Egyptian government was waged even before they assumed any real influence. Liberalists and so called ‘intellectuals’ who resolved on staunch opposition to President Morsi began by denouncing the Brotherhood’s credibility. The Islamist had allegedly secured “the oil and sugar votes”[16]which are of less value to the votes of the learned intellectuals. It was regrettable how many such ‘intellectual’ mobs parroted this allegation, overlooking the fact that is undermines the very principle of the democracy they advocate. It further revealed a very tainted history of isolating themselves from the impoverished citizens of Egypt. Seeing as they failed the election, this argument is either a fallacy or they found no virtue in themselves to spare some sugar or oil for the destitute yet precious voter, let alone on the long run for the poor Egyptian citizen.

(It was said to prophet Nuh alayhisalam) “…nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking. And we do not see in you any merit above us, in fact we think you are liars.”[17]To the very run up to the general election, Egyptian news and social media did not spare President Morsi of a systematic smear campaign initially to the effect that he is the Brotherhood’s “spare tyre” and that he lacks charisma. This followed the disqualification of Khairat al-Shater, “the group’s most senior strategist”.[18]In addition to this, the Egyptian media would persistently accuse the elected Islamists in parliament of being inexperienced, among them are those whom “have just arrived from Dawah pulpits or from mosque study-circles, many of whom belong to armed movements who until recently would practice violence against civilians, tourists, thinkers and politicians”.[19]The criticality of the transitional period did not hinder the appearance of articles speaking of “male representatives in parliament invading the prayer space assigned to women[20], that “despite the simplicity of the (prayer) issue, it seems beyond the ability of the representatives to solve”.[21], overlooking a politicised judiciary by even the standards of Morsi’s opponents[22] that desperately needed cleansing from decades of Mubarak influence. Now that the corrupt judiciary is intending to set Mubarak free [23], we can only anticipate what trick the Egyptian media will pull out of its sleeve dodge this one and to fool the layman.

The sit-ins of Rabaa al-Adawiya and an-Nahda were not spared the Egyptian media machines deceit. News reports vary from ridiculous to outright comedy, including “the recovery of 28 scorched bodies that were hidden under the stage of Rabaa al-Adawiya bearing signs of torturewhich had seemingly been there for a couple of days”.[24]The Al-Watan news website had also enthusiastically reported “the delivery of lorries at the dawn of yesterday to the two sit-ins containing Russian weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles…laser sniper rifles”. Furthermore, “Syrian intermediaries belonging to the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood, under the leadership of the Free Syrian Army contributed to the delivery of chemical weapons along from the Libyan borders into Egypt”.[25] After all, it was “the Muslim Brotherhood who were the cause of the fall of Andalusia Spain”[26], according to Mohamad al-Ghayty, a presenter in Egypt’s Tahrir TV. Regardless of the fact Libya lies in the East of Egypt and Syria in its West and that the Brotherhood was established in 1928, this illustrates the pitiable level of information that many Egyptians are absorbing as fact, all of which united against Morsi in his presidential term. Egyptian television (CBC) went on to liken the civilian bloodbath that occurred on the 14th August to “when Egypt waged a war against Israel to recapture the Sinai Peninsula in 1973.[27]The only difference being is that twice as many innocent Egyptians were killed in seven hours in Rabaa al-Adawiya than hostile Israeli soldiers in 19 days.

Egypt’s media machine has been pivotal in conjuring resentment against the so called Islamists. The media succeeded in not only polarising the Egyptian community, but in desensitising the Egyptian observer from the opposition to the extent that the Rabaa al-Adawiya massacre was commended and deemed a victory.

“If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it…”[28]

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[17] Quran 11:27
[28] Quran 3:120

About Ahmed Hammuda

Ahmed Hammuda is a regular contributor at Islam21c. His interests lie in Qur'anic Tafsir and the field of Middle East Affairs and how they reflect on Muslims living in the West. He is an Electrical Engineer by trade and has been involved in various Da'wah activities over the course of his education and working life. He has transferred the same analytical approach required in engineering into a careful and measured approach in his views and positions.

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