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The Muslim Brotherhood: Between myth and reality - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A column by Lorenzo Vidino, an academic and security expert, published in the Washington Post under the title “Five myths about the Muslim Brotherhood” has stirred controversy at a time distinct with political change in the Arab world– a change that can be positive or negative, but now it is early to judge.

As far as I am concerned, I think the Muslim Brotherhoods have the right to rule, even in a pivotal country like Egypt, so long as power is reached within a legal framework that grants equal opportunity for all political forces. This is also what Vidino sought to indicate, but my difference with him is in describing the Brotherhood movement and presenting it to the Western society as a victim of a ploy that attempts to contain them politically by tarnishing their image.

It may be true that political regimes sought to scare the world away from the Brotherhoods during political unrests and in the era of terrorism falsely attributed to all Islamists in the past decade, but the truth also is that not all what was said about the Brotherhoods was myth.

The Brotherhoods are those who also sought to enhance their image as a group that believes in human rights and liberty after the United States said it would support democracies in the Middle East and they found in this an open window to reach power in a democratic way. Of course, they have the right to reach power just like everyone else, especially in a country that used to claim that the alternation of power is everyone’s right according to a democratic system during the rule of Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhoods in Egypt, like in other Arab countries, is a political movement with a clear and explicit goal and that is to rule, and this is its legitimate right as I previously said. But in its political platform the movement aims to hold on to power, not simply to reach it, through inventing additional ideological means, such as imposing a religious reference of the state and an assembly of senior religious clerics on the legislative authority. Through these two means the anticipated political system in Egypt appears similar to the one in Iran–A democracy based on religious laws and a parliament that refers to religious clerics. This is not a myth but explicit texts in the platform of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course when reading the platform of their party one will find cosmetic terms such as “free elections” and “alternation of power,” but in the Iranian experience elections and the alternation of power are reserved only for a small group of religious clerics and their followers.

The Iranian religious movement was internationally accepted when it came to power in 1979 because it was seen as a preferred alternative to a possible communist or leftist party at the time.

But the world has been in chaos since then when Khomeini and his comrades took over the rule in Iran, a country with high geopolitical importance.

I would never exclude that the Brotherhoods, like the Iranian Islamist movement, subscribe to such values that are based on imposing religion on society and politics and perceive democracy as a simple means to reach authority and hold on to it forever.

A person may voice criticism as to why I stand against this Islamist group, but the fact is that I am not against it reaching power– this is its right and its presence in politics is essential. My problem with the group lies in its exclusionary Fascist thought that seeks to rule everyone with religion, which it aims to use as a means in order to reach the commanding power position and remain there.

Without real constitutional guarantees and a body, like the army, to protect those guarantees, one will not trust a party that seeks to reach power and use it to subdue people and destroy their nation in the name of reviving the system of Islamic Khalifat or the like.

In this age it is unacceptable to trust any fascist group, be it nationalistic or religious, in its quest to obtain power because the danger of such groups transcends national borders.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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