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The comrades in Egypt are confused. By “comrades” here I mean the “Brotherhood”, which is supposed to be a brotherhood in terms of its Islamic “fraternalism”. However, the word “Islamic” here does not signify Islam in terms of faith, history or civilization. It does reflect a religion that spans more than 14 centuries of time, humanity, geography and demography. The word “Islamic” here pertains to a period of historical and political mobility, with transient and temporal roots, and is not religious by definition.

After the Muslim Brotherhood “group” announced its nomination of Deputy General Guide Khairat El-Shater, along with another official contender Mohammed Mursi, for the 2012 presidential elections, many changes have taken place; changes within the Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, and the Islamic current in general, from which there is certainly more than one “independent” presidential candidate running in the elections.

The nomination of El-Shater and then Mursi came as an attempt to detract support from the former Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the famous Islamic symbol Mohammad Salim Al-Awa, and not to mention the dark Islamic horse Hazem Abu Ismail, the son of the renowned parliamentary magnate Sheikh Salah Abu Ismail.

The conflict right now is not between the Islamists and secularists, not between the Islamists and the remnants of the former National Democratic Party, and not between the Islamists and the ordinary people who have become sick and tired of the current state of anxiety and chaos, or even between the Islamists and the traditional social leaderships in villages, rural areas and hamlets. The dispute right now is between the Islamists themselves.

Those set to lose out most from the nominations of Khairat El-Shater and Mohammed Mursi in the presidential elections are the Islamists themselves. Is Mohammad Salim Al-Awa or Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh or even Hazem Abu Ismail happy about these latest developments?

What does this mean in the language of politics and interests? It means that when interests, practical benefits and realistic interpretations come to the fore, then idealistic rhetoric, originally used to mobilize the masses, begins to fade away.

Nothing rises above the voice of interests or the voice of personal opinion. We saw the “expatriate” Kamal El-Helbawy tendering his resignation from the Muslim Brotherhood, because they had “betrayed” their earlier pledge not to nominate a presidential candidate. Then we saw another famous expatriate Brotherhood member, cleric Wagdi Ghoneim, giving several angry speeches on YouTube. According to Ghoneim’s words, he was vexed by the Brotherhood’s decision to compete with “virtuous brother” Hazem Abu Ismail. Then we heard and watched Mohammad Salim Al-Awa grumbling, albeit in a soft tone, about the recent Brotherhood turnabout. This was evident in his latest interview on the Egyptian satellite television station “Al-Tahrir”, with journalist Mohammed Salah.

In the end, this leads us to a clear simple fact: The exquisite rhetoric of ideals and slogans ultimately melts under the rays of reality. Indeed, it even melts under the whims of individuals.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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