Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt: a bad start for the Brotherhood’s rule | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The speaker of the new Egyptian Parliament and prominent Brotherhood leader Saad el-Katatny travels to work in a car worth 1.4 million Egyptian pounds. The street where he lives is laid with asphalt, unlike the surrounding streets, and is blocked off to pedestrians. El-Katatny moves only in a convoy, and when he flies abroad, he is usually accompanied by an official who should be subjected to a travel ban for charges of financial corruption.

This was revealed by two of the most renowned talk show hosts in Egypt, Mahmoud Saad and Amr Adib. I hoped these accusations were not true or inaccurate, yet the two television hosts called on the Speaker of the Parliament to either explain or refute the claims, and they received no reply (Adib even screened footage of el-Katatny’s convoy and his luxurious car). If the accusations are proven to be true, people are entitled to ask, “What is the difference between el-Katatny and Ahmad Fathi Sorour [el-Katatny’s predecessor during the Mubarak regime]?”

Egypt’s recent revolution came about to demolish decades of corruption. Since corruption has always been protected by dictatorships and despotism, the situation seemed logical. Yet, for the head of the highest elected supervisory and legislative authority in the country to now show “signs” of corruption following a historical popular revolution that was fueled by the poor, starving, unemployed, deprived and disadvantaged people, this is something completely unacceptable.

If it is true that Egyptian history suggests feudalism was the root cause of the military coup in 1952, and that the despotism and corruption of the military regime that reigned until 2011 was the root cause of the January 25th peaceful revolution, then what will history say about corruption being the outcome of an uproarious popular revolution with the sublime objective of combatting it, especially when such corruption is shown by the Speaker of the Parliament who was elected purely by public will? The price of the revolution was grossly exorbitant, with the repercussions being a fragile security situation, economic disability, soaring prices and further unemployment, apart from the fact that some current MPs do not even have a car to travel to work in. So how can the Speaker of the Parliament’s luxury and lavish expenditures, which came as an utter surprise to the people, be justified in the face of all this?

The literature of the Islamists in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, relies mainly on their ideology, as well as incentivizing their rule. The Islamists would often claim that if they came to power, they would be the most ascetic, humble, and honest rulers, and in this endeavor they cited numerous tales and stories from the history of the rightly-guided caliphs and fair and ascetic Muslim rulers. Besides this, their rhetoric in opposition to the Mubarak, Nasser and Sadat eras was also full of sharp criticisms of the officials’ lavishness, corruption and the spread of favoritism. We must not blame the Egyptian people, their media, or the Arabs who are keeping a watchful eye on the newly-born Islamist experiment if they fiercely criticize those with an Islamic frame of reference, who are seen to be committing the same mistakes they chastised others for.

The catastrophe does not only lie in those involved in corruption, rather it also lies in defending or justifying the acts. The most dreadful of all calamities is for some people to recommend that corruption be covered up in order for their opponents not to gloat at their situation. Our generations must be raised accustomed to rejecting despotism and corruption in their various forms, regardless of the trend or party that the wrongdoer is affiliated to. Corruption is unacceptable, whether the perpetrator wears a liberal necktie or an Islamic turban. It is in the interests of the Islamist rule experiment –still in its early stages – that light be shed on corruption, rather than waiting until a fire breaks out and grows out of control. Those who want to expose despotism and corruption within governments, and nevertheless remain silent about their own despotic practices, whether they are from Islamic or non-Islamic trends, are suffering from an “authoritarian impairment”.