Sunday, September 01, 2013

Comment ~ Why Did the Muslim Brotherhood Fail in Egypt?

Moha Ennaji is Professor of Cultural and Gender Studies and President of the International Institute for Languages and Cultures in Fez. In this interesting article (first published in Morocco World News) he reflects on why the Muslim Brotherhood failed in Egypt

Moha Ennaji (photo Sandy McCutcheon)

Many liberal democrats in the region argue that Morsi has been in power for only one year, and did not have time to make reforms or rebuild the economy. He should have been given a chance to finish his term, and then it is up to the Egyptian people to vote him out of power, as it is usually done in Western democracies. The army has no right to remove him, and people should not have gone to the streets with the aim of toppling him down. Government or regime change should result from the ballot drop boxes.

Morsi was democratically elected; however, he needed to prioritize the welfare of all the Egyptian people. Instead, he made numerous mistakes, essentially acting like a democratically elected dictator and rammed through a constitution based on Shari’a (Islamic) law, which did not explicitly respect women’s rights, pluralism, nor protect minorities.

Christians, who make up 8 million of Egypt’s population of 90 million, were worried when Islamists took over Egypt’s government in 2012 and relieved when the military ousted them from power last month. But the ancient Coptic communities that predate Islam by centuries say they now see a new wave of violence against them since the ouster. Human rights groups accused Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists of inciting violence.

Egypt is home to wider sectarian violence that authorities don’t control. Ishaq Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said his group had documented at least 39 cases of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country on Wednesday. In June 2013, four Shiite Muslims were beaten to death by a mob of Sunni Muslims, apparently for their beliefs, in a village near the capital, in Giza.

During the elected government’s year-long term some liberal groups mentioned that the ballot box was insufficient, and that Morsi was not inclusive. He started by appointing people from the Muslim Brotherhood in key positions. The economy continued to collapse, and communication with the rest of the Arab countries and the West suffered a deadlock. As a result, the opposition that united under the umbrella of the National Salvation Front organized sit-ins on 30 June, and later on backed the military coup.

The most prominent flaw of the Brotherhood in Egypt is that it is not interested in building a modern state because of the belief that religion is in danger and that “Islam is the solution”. Its main objective is to revive the Islamic Caliphate anywhere in the world.

The Muslim Brothers in Egypt failed because they were unable to trust non-Islamists, nor communicate with the youth, resulting in more social and economic exclusion. Their lack of experience in managing public affairs also played against them. As a result, the Al-Azhar University and the Coptic leaders, as well as the army, the judiciary system, trade unions, student unions, women’s organizations all voiced their opposition to the Morsi administration.

What is happening in Egypt is very dangerous and can become a serious security threat to the whole region, which is already under heavy turmoil following the Arab revolutions. This situation can lead to the isolation of Egypt regionally and even internationally, with evidence from the European Union and the US, that have already decided to review their assistance to Egypt, which will not foster political stability, in light of the global economic and financial crisis

The new Egyptian government should end sectarian violence as a priority, or risk letting this fatal issue degenerate out of control. It must try to reach out and compromise with the moderate members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters. It should renounce violence, respect freedom of expression, and move toward an inclusive political transition.

The main responsibility of the government is to restore stability to Egypt and foster economic growth and job creation. The revolution devastated the economy, especially tourism, which is the country’s major source of employment and income.

The West progressed by defeating tyranny and preserving freedoms; this is the secret of the Western world’s remarkable advancement. The Middle East and North Africa should follow suit.

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