Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Do the Egyptians trust the Muslim Brotherhood? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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What is happening in Egypt today is a state of bickering, not all bad and indeed in some parts good, carried out by Egyptians in general and political groups in particular, especially with regards to calls for a civil state, or at least a state of law, following the Egyptian revolution.

The simplest example of this is the controversy about the declaration of constitutional principles, which the Muslim Brotherhood alongside other Islamic groups oppose, whilst they have been accepted by civil political forces. The declaration of principles does not mean depriving the Muslim Brotherhood, or Islamic groups in general, of access to power, but rather it means ensuring the future of Egypt and its democracy, just as it means that the country will be heading in the right direction towards becoming a state of law, whether it is ruled by the Brotherhood or any other political force. This matter deserves the acceptance of all Egyptians, just as it deserves tremendous political and media effort on the part of civil forces to explain the idea to ordinary Egyptians, to educate the Egyptian public about the importance of declaring the principles of the constitution now, and before the entire political process is completed.

Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rejection of the constitutional principles means that they have fallen into the trap they had set for the young people and other civil political forces. The Brotherhood has been extensively preoccupied with minor issues after the fall of Mubarak, rather than the issue of ensuring the future of Egypt, which is the most important. The Brotherhood’s mere rejection of the declaration of principles makes Egyptians skeptical of the sincerity of the organization. Is the group, for example, sincere in its talk about democracy, and the transfer of power, or does the Brotherhood intend to secure power, and then change the rules of the game? Declaring the constitutional principles now is like declaring the rules of football, before all Egyptian political forces, of all kinds, take to the political playing field, with elections and so on, according to the rules of the game which are known and agreed in advance, instead of the rules of the game being developed inside the political arena.

The fear of all fears for today and tomorrow – if the constitutional principles are not declared – is that the Muslim Brotherhood will play the game of the “Maghreb goal” after the elections in Egypt. This, for those who do not know, is the way football was often played in the neighborhoods of Saudi Arabia. Usually children would play in the afternoon, and usually before Salaat al-Maghreb the losing team would begin to exert pressure to score one more goal in order to nullify the result. Here, the two teams are playing for the “Maghreb goal”, meaning that whoever scores the final goal before the Salaat al-Maghreb is the winner, even if the other team had scored more goals previously. Often, if the losing team’s players are physically stronger or more experienced, thus intimidating for the opposition, they would wait until just before Salaat al-Maghreb and then exert all their effort to score. This is a form of trickery, or Taqiyya [Shiite principle whereby true intentions or beliefs may be concealed when an individual is under threat].

Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rejection of the declaration of principles today can be considered a political version of the “Maghreb goal”. Following the overthrow of Mubarak, the Brotherhood wants to exclusively rule Egypt, and this is a danger to Egypt as a whole. The Brotherhood’s lack of acceptance for the declaration of constitutional principles is an opportunity for all Egyptian civil political forces to explain to the Egyptians the seriousness of their country becoming an extremist state like Iran. Those who want to rule Egypt must offer a political project to serve the people, not Islamic slogans and promises, otherwise the post-Mubarak era will become more dangerous than the reign of Mubarak itself.