Following last Friday’s events, the political situation in Egypt can only expected to worsen, becoming further aggravated and tense. There is now a dire need to ameliorate the situation, however the Egyptian liberal elites that are in control of the country’s media—its satellite television channels and newspapers—do not seem to be inclined in this direction. Rather, the Egyptian media elite seem intent on avenging themselves against the Islamists, who have received a number of painful blows over the past weeks. This includes the military’s ouster of president Mursi, placing him, along with a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, in jail, not to mention the shutting down of Islamic satellite channels, the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated Shura Council, and most recently the security crackdown against pro-Mursi demonstrations and sit-ins.This latest measure in particular will only serve to further aggravate the political situation in Egypt.
Anyone who monitors the Egyptian media scene today cannot help but notice the harsh discourse and language that is being used, as well as the general lack of objectivity. This is not to mention those calling for the comprehensive exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood from the political scene in any upcoming elections. There are also those who are rejoicing at the prosecution and detention of the Islamists, as well as the forcible closure of their media outlets. This is something that completely contradicts the principles of freedom and liberty that post-revolutionary Egyptian media boasted of.
The source of concern here is not regarding the Brotherhood being denied their political rights. The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest and strongest grass-root political faction in Egypt. The Brotherhood has always been part of Egyptian politics, whether they were in power, in the opposition, or even in prison. The reality is that it would be practically impossible to dislodge the Muslim Brotherhood from the Egyptian political scene, in the same manner that it was impossible for the Brotherhood to dislodge their opponents when they were in power.
The real source of concern is that exploiting the state of rage caused by the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure to govern Egypt—which reached its peak with the June 30 protests—and using this to exclude the group from political life, or pursuing and arresting them under flimsy pretexts, will certainly create feelings of injustice and anger among a large group of youth. These youths are naturally inclined towards conspiracy theories to explain what is in their view hostility towards religion and the targeting of the Islamists. This would create an ideal breeding ground for terrorism. This is all taking place while Egypt is in recovery from such threats as a result of two important changes.
Firstly, there is the well known ideological review of the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya which renounced violence as a means of political change. Secondly, Egypt saw the successful inclusion of all Salafist Islamist political trends and currents, as well as so called political Islamic parties, in the post-January 25 revolution political process. These groups displayed marked progress in understanding the requirements of the political game as well as issues of political opposition, alliances, and pragmatism. This new and successful experience must not be aborted under any pretext, otherwise the country will face even greater difficulties in the future.
In the meantime, Islamist parties and groups have seen civil powers and organizations allying with the army, business sector, mainstream media, newspapers, and independent youth seeking more freedom and stability as well as greater job opportunities. After witnessing major Arab countries reject their rule, these Islamists must now review their own political calculations and considerations. At this stage, they must content themselves with competing for parliamentary seats until the situation is back to normal and until the incendiary Egyptian political situation stabilizes, even if this takes years.