Ambassador Zvi Mazael

Will Egypt's Morsi change?

Op-ed: As opposed to West, Arab countries view Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power as bad omen

The victory of Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi in the Egyptian presidential elections is a victory for political Islam, which does not separate religion and state and aspires to impose sharia (Islamic) law as a way of life. The Egyptian revolution failed to produce a new, charismatic leader. Ultimately, the struggle was between the old guard and the Muslim Brotherhood, the key political forces in Egypt since the Free Officers revolution of 1952.


Since then, there has been no room in the political arena for liberal, centrist parties. Throughout this entire period, under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and then Hosni Mubarak, Egypt was run by a military dictatorship that hid behind a sole ruling party, which was under its full control. The Muslim Brotherhood movement, which became politically active during the days of King Farouk (whose secret service assassinated Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna after he tried to overthrow the regime), was the only movement that dared to challenge the rule of these three presidents.


All the Brotherhood's attempts to seize power failed, but this did not prevent it from penetrating deep into the Egyptian nation and establishing a social, political and economic infrastructure. The rampant corruption under the military dictatorship, as well as the constant threat of torture by the police, led many Egyptian to embrace the Islamist's message as a solution to all their problems.


Since its inception in 1928, the Brotherhood's one and only goal has been to take control over Egypt and turn it into an Islamist state. Democracy, and with it the values of freedom of expression, equality for minorities and women, have always been viewed by the movement as barriers on the way to enforcing sharia law. The Brotherhood's doctrine was fanatically-religious and blatantly anti-Semitic even before the State of Israel was founded. Since 1948, the movement has been engaged in a relentless battle against the Jewish state.


'Sign of things to come'

All radical Islamist movements, including al-Qaeda, global jihad and Jama'a al-Islamiya were established on the basis of the Brotherhood's extremist doctrine. These movements have played a major role in the surge of religious fanaticism in Egypt and the increased hostility towards Israel.


Many people, particularly western journalists, claim that all must be forgotten and that the Muslim Brotherhood is now a secular movement (!) which will work democratically to move Egypt forward. This despite the fact that during his election campaign Morsi told supporters he would enforce sharia law and conquer Jerusalem. Western reporters he said he would honor Egypt's international accords and establish a civil state – a vague concept in itself.


Has Morsi's faith in Islam dwindled since he was elected president? Has he been lying to himself all this time? Did the Muslim Brotherhood turn democratic immediately after winning the elections? Will the 500,000 Brotherhood members now respect their wives and stop murdering them? Will the Muslims now respect their Coptic neighbors? Did the Brotherhood's plan to convert the entire world to Islam change within hours of Morsi's victory? It appears as though these questions are not being asked in western capitals and that the White House is prepared to march forward with the Brotherhood.


The Arab countries, on the other hand, view the Brotherhood as a danger. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are following the developments in Egypt with great concern and are refusing to help save its collapsing economy. Just this week Dubai police commander Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said Morsi's election was a bad omen for Egypt and the region, and two weeks ago he threatened to arrest Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi for inciting against the United Arab Emirates.


The Saudis expelled all Brotherhood members in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks after it was revealed that 16 of the 18 terrorists who took part in the operation were inspired by the radical Islamist movement's doctrine to join al-Qaeda.


Following the democratic elections in Egypt, Morsi is now the supreme ruler of the Arab country. He has the authority to reverse the recent dissolution of parliament by the military and see to it that the new constitution will include clauses that allow the Brotherhood to enforce sharia law.


In all likelihood, it will only be a few weeks before the Brotherhood seizes control of Egypt's parliament, and with Morsi as president, what can prevent the movement from forcing the Supreme Military Council generals into retirement? Will the army resist and try to topple the new regime? This is highly unlikely.


What will prevent the Brotherhood from beginning to implement its plan to establish an Islamist state in Egypt and work towards establishing other such states throughout the region? Western analysts say pragmatism, coupled with the need to deal with Egypt's financial woes, will curb the Brotherhood's extremist aspirations.


But is it not reasonable to assume that Brotherhood's Islamist doctrine will outweigh pragmatism? A sign of things to come can already be seen in Morsi's pledge to order a retrial for Mubarak and all other "killers of the revolutionaries" and demand that the US release the "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.


Zvi Mazael is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Sweden and Romania


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פרסום ראשון: 07.02.12, 18:03
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