Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Al-Shatar and the Prince | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ever since the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt announced, via their official political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party [FJP] – that they would be nominating Egyptian businessman and Deputy General Guide Khairat al-Shatar as their candidate for the 2012 presidential elections, the media has struggled to adequately categorize and analyze the opinions and reactions of the public, dividing them into a camp that favours this nomination, and a camp that strongly opposes it.

Comments, jokes and jests started to appear with regards to this issue, as it is the custom of the Egyptian people to interact with every notable incident utilizing humour. Jokes began to appear playing on the pun inherent in al-Shatar’s name [which means clever in Arabic].

On the opposite side, voices and faces came out likening the nomination of Khairat al-Shatar to the case of Nelson Mandela, the South African leader who was imprisoned for 29 years before eventually being released and becoming president. Others have tried to equate al-Shatar with Prophet Yusuf [Joseph] (Peace be upon him) who was also imprisoned and released, whereupon he ultimately became the ruler of Egypt. Both examples reference the fact that al-Shatar was imprisoned but was freed after the revolution when all sentences pronounced against him during the Mubarak era were quashed.

The reason for the division over the nomination of Khairat al-Shatar is that many people in Egypt are “shocked” at the Muslim Brotherhood reneging on their pledge not to nominate a presidential candidate. It is also worth mentioning that on several occasions the Brotherhood reiterated – via multiple figures affiliated to the group – that they would not seek to capitalize on the electoral circumstances which enabled the FJP to win a landslide victory at the parliamentary elections. However, the FJP is now seeking to secure a vote of no confidence against the present government in order to unilaterally form a new cabinet. Moreover, the FJP is today exclusively running Egypt’s Constitutional Committee after all other political trends withdrew from this on account of the Muslim Brotherhood attempting to constrain the opinions voiced by other blocs. These political blocs believe that the constitution should serve as a mirror and reflection of the country as a whole with regards to all its political viewpoints and orientations. The constitution should not be the brainchild of just one political bloc because in this case the reflection would be forever warped and incomplete.

The Muslim Brotherhood is known to be a political group that has developed its media and political discourse utilizing skill, professionalism and shrewdness. It is as if the Brotherhood has done this by borrowing the ideas of key schools of ancient sciences and political thought, like that of Sun Tzu, the great Chinese military general who is traditionally believed to have authored “The Art of War”, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Of course there is also the “The Book of Five Rings” by ancient Japanese swordsman and Ronin Miyamoto Musashi. However, the greatest of all is genius Niccolo Machiavelli, the author of “The Prince” whose pragmatic and practical principle that “the end justifies the means” has given birth to its own term, namely “Machiavellianism”. Today, al-Shatar is presenting a new example of Machiavellianism. However his exploitation of the political status that the “Brotherhood” has achieved transgresses the bounds. People do not like overt or ostentatious muscle-flexing. This leads to vainglory and arrogance, both of which are cardinal sins that might have a very high moral and political price.