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Sheikh Mursi's reconciliation with Persian Islam - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sheikh Mohamed Mursi attempted to convince the Arabs and Muslims that the statements he issued to the quasi-official Fars news agency were nothing more than “idle talk”, a move that was perhaps meant to dispel concerns whilst Mursi anticipated the official announcement of his presidential election victory.

However, when Fars once again stressed that Mursi’s statements – about establishing coordinative relations between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Ayatollah – were indeed valid and sincere, the new Egyptian President responded by categorically stating that Egypt is not importing the [Iranian] revolution, nor will it seek to export its own revolution. As a result, the official Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency [IRNA] had no choice but to dismiss the news reported by Fars in order to satisfy Sheikh Mursi and also to prompt him to fulfill his promise of “repairing” Egypt’s relations with Iran.

These dismissals, refutations and reactions have all given a sense of fragility regarding the Muslim Brotherhood’s future policies in Egypt, which is of great concern to the Gulf Arabs as well as the Arabs of the Levant. In fact, if Egypt re-establishes diplomatic relations with the Ayatollah’s regime in Iran, this would suggest that Sheikh Mursi has no understanding or awareness of the reality on the Arab eastern front.

Iran is an Islamic state, and the difference between Arab Sunni and Persian Shiite ideology does not diminish the dire need to establish cordial relations between the Persians and the Arabs. However, Iran’s threats – namely that it will bombard the Gulf region if Iranian nuclear sites are targeted, its attempts to penetrate the Arab identity of Iraq and Syria, and its domination of areas of Lebanon (through the Hezbollah mini-state) must all prompt Egypt, the largest Arab state, to be watchful, cautious and attentive.

The Muslim Brotherhood regime is in need of a bold and clear Arab policy. It is well known that Egypt loses its influence and even its internal stability whenever its relations with the Arabs in the East and the Gulf deteriorate. The “rosy” balloons which Sheikh Mursi launched in the sky about the regime’s commitment to the treaties and agreements signed by the Mubarak and Sadat regimes are not enough, for there is a need for more details, and to call things by their real names, in order to keep pace with the current circumstances and events.

With regards to Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood should lay down the ground rules for reconciliation by firstly condemning the Iranian regime’s support for the Alawite regime in Syria that persists in killing its own people and bombarding its own cities and villages. The Brotherhood should also display fraternal sympathy towards the Arabs in the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia, against the torrent of threats and interventions that seek to incite the Shiites against the Sunnis in a strategically-important Arab region.

In order to formulate a regional policy, the Muslim Brotherhood must declare its commitment to protecting the region’s Arab identity, and it must become fully acquainted with the current transformations and crises. From the past century onwards, this has always been the destiny and duty of Egypt. At present, Sheikh Mursi’s reconciliation with Persian Islam would suggest the Brotherhood’s ignorance of Arab-Iranian history.

There is a fundamental difference between the Persian Shiites and the Arab Shiites. Historical racism has reared its head once more, inflicting the Persians who are attempting to invade and capture Sunni ideology. There is an Iranian urgency to open “Husseiniyyas” in Egypt, yet al-Azhar has completely rejected this by saying that Sunni mosques are also open to the Shiites. The Iranians are also expanding their religious influence through cultural and human exchange. Dozens of [Shiite] Hawzas (religious institutes) have been established in Syria to spread the Shiite ideology, aiming to tear apart an Arab state that incorporates 18 religions, ideologies and sects.

Ever since the eruption of the Egyptian popular uprising, Egyptian popular delegations comprising of civilians (including Muslim Brotherhood affiliates), intellectuals, journalists, politicians and clerics, have conducted visits to Iran where they have received propaganda about Iranian politics and the Persian Shiite ideology. Visits have been made to “holy shrines” in Iran, which do not really exist and cannot be compared to the Shiite sites in Iraq.

There are two million Egyptian expatriates working in the Gulf today. In the event of a passing crisis, the Gulf would never enforce harsh measures such as the mass deportation of Egyptians, as was the case with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. Hence the Brotherhood’s sympathy with the Arabs of the Gulf region is necessary, not only for emotional reasons, but also in terms of interests. This is if Sheikh Mursi (defender of the poor and the immigrants) is genuinely keen on the influx of millions of Egyptians to live, work and save up money in the Gulf, rather than being keen on establishing contact with the “Persians” and the “Ayatollah”.

Mursi’s public speeches have aroused concern rather than trust or reassurance, and his rival Ahmed Shafiq left Egypt immediately. Sheikh Mursi tends to forget that 12 million Egyptians, half the number of eligible voters in Egypt, voted against him. Thus, in such a climate of division, the President must take into consideration the contradictory visions of 85 million Egyptians.

The obsessions surrounding Sheikh Mursi’s integrity also prompt us to think that he is receiving poor political advice. After he resigned from his position as chairman of the Brotherhood’s party, he was criticized and subsequently returned. The Brotherhood’s leadership could be seeking to exploit any reoccurring mistakes to push Sheikh Mursi towards resignation, in order to pave the way for installing Khairat el-Shater.

Sheikh Mursi’s urgency to restore the powers of his office seems hypocritical when he calls upon his supporters to be patient. Patient for what? Yes, be patient regarding the issues of unemployment, deprivation and the collapsing economy, which all now fall under the responsibility of the Brotherhood. Khairat el-Shater is seeking billions from Qatar, Iran and international banks to reform the economy.

Finally, I call on the Brotherhood Republic of Egypt to embark on two pioneering initiatives to prove its democratic reliability in front of millions of skeptics: The first is to neutralize both the army and the security apparatus. This would prevent the regime, or indeed any republican regime, from consuming the state and installing a president for life.

The second initiative is to abolish the Ministry of Information and establish a republican state with various systems within. There should be no need for an official media that blows the regime’s trumpet or beats its drum. It is also imperative that the (Brotherhood’s) Shura Council ceases its censorship of state-run media outlets. They should be transformed into corporate firms where the shares are owned by editors, administrators and minor civilian investors, not businessmen, whether they are remnants of the former regime or Brotherhood affiliates.