If we examine the expression “civil state,” we find that it has a common meaning shared by different cultures and philosophies. In a civil state, the political authority is entrusted to the people, and so there must be a representative of the people within the government whose job is to appoint, observe and remove the government if necessary.
This civil state stands in contrast with the “theocratic state,” in which an individual or group—such as the Muslim Brotherhood—monopolizes political authority and takes exclusive possession of religious authority, ignoring other parts of society and its members.
The above introduction was necessary in order to arrive at the fact that this concept of state, which is different from religious liberalism or socialism in governance, and which was adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood, led to the Brotherhood’s continued isolation ever since it was established, a situation which was repeated in the past few years. This created a new culture that brought in the commitment to repeat such isolation in view of the public discontent and the blame people pinned on each other for trusting a group proven to be untrustworthy. The Brotherhood used the mandate it was given by the people to exploit the main components of Egyptian society to serve its own ideas. Thanks to this, all shades of opinion now are unanimous in rejecting the Brotherhood. Today, opinions vary between a rejection of its continued existence and a belief that it should be allowed to continue under strict conditions. This is also a product of the current phase, which requires force and firmness in dealing with the remnants of the group.
This may bring back memories of the 16-year period during which Habib Al-Adli was Egypt’s minister of interior, when the Brotherhood and the Ministry of Interior had a clandestine agreement. According to that agreement, the Brotherhood ceased their anti-government operations and activities, and shackled the Brotherhood’s jihadist arm in return for the Ministry of Interior allowing the Brotherhood to work covertly on developing its financial and human resources.
Even until the January 25 revolution of 2011, the Brotherhood had reservations and fears about breaking the agreement in order to avoid the interior minister’s anger, leading him to consider detaining their leaders and excluding them.
The “civilian” leadership will take a tough approach in dealing with members of the Brotherhood. The idea of negotiations and the reconciliation is deeply unpopular and has become unusable in view of the Egyptian street’s new thinking, which is born out of the bloody scenes and excessive violence witnessed in demonstrations. This situation continues to the extent that every Friday, we see people being injured and killed during demonstrations, a situation that eventually led to a growing desire to isolate, exclude and eliminate the Brotherhood.
I expect this new new political situation to last for some time, even for years. Whether this will change soon depends upon positive action by the Brotherhood’s younger supporters, who are now preparing to carry its banner as part of new bodies like the “Brotherhood Without Violence,” as well as through the groups of Brotherhood defectors and other movements and alliances.
Therefore, the meeting between the presidency, represented by the interim president’s media advisor, and the so-called Brotherhood “defectors”, simply affirmed that eliminating such an entity from the Egyptian body politic will be everyone’s chief concern. The nature of their meeting and their disagreement has left a strong impression that retreat is a defining characteristic and part and parcel of that group’s doctrine. History will not forget the late President Anwar Sadat’s claim that the Brotherhood’s supporters were “misguided youths.” President Sadat was unaware at the time that those misguided youths were the ones who would revive the Brotherhood’s ideology and live to taste their greatest dream of rising to power in Egypt.
The counterpart to this article can be read here.