Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Elected from behind the veil! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Much has been said, and is being said, about the Arab Spring, and the strong presence of the Muslim Brotherhood as seen through the ballot box. However, something important has been overlooked, namely that the Brotherhood’s electoral victories always occur from behind the veil.

What some people have not noticed is that although the Muslim Brotherhood has submitted electoral lists and candidates to participate in the post-Arab Spring elections, those who are elected are not the ones who will govern in practice. Governance will occur in secret, by people who will not bear the consequences of their failures. Here one may ask, how? If we consider how the Brotherhood deals with elections in general, we find, for example, that prior to the “Arab Spring”, the people of Gaza voted for Hamas, but the man who was actually governing Gaza was Khaled Meshaal, not Ismail Haniyeh!

This is what is happening in Egypt today, for whichever Muslim Brotherhood member wins a seat at the parliamentary elections – or even if a Brotherhood candidate wins the Egyptian presidency tomorrow – they will not truly be in charge, or have the final say, rather this will fall to the Supreme Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie. Indeed Badie recently stated that the position of “Supreme Guide” is far more important than that of Egyptian President! The same thing is happening today in Tunisia, with regards to whoever represents the Brotherhood-affiliated al-Nahda movement in the new state. All matters will be in the hands of Mr. Rashid Ghannouchi, who said he would appoint his son-in-law as foreign minister. The question here is: What is the difference between Ben Ali and Ghannouchi? This is truly a strange state of affairs.

The Muslim Brotherhood being elected from behind the veil does not only apply to the countries mentioned above, but it occurs in all countries where there are elections and where the Brotherhood has a presence. Whoever wins the votes of the electorate does not actually govern, rather it is the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide who is truly is in charge of all affairs, and there is even a Bay’ah [oath of allegiance]! As for the countries where there is no Muslim Brotherhood reference [i.e. Supreme Guide], there is still a sheikh for those who have no sheikh, and a [religious] reference for those who have no reference, and here I am talking about the Khomeini of the Sunnis, Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is currently visiting Libya accompanied by Ghannouchi!

The significance of being elected from behind the veil is that the Muslim Brotherhood, and specifically its leaders, want power but not the accompanying responsibility. All of the faces of the Muslim Brotherhood are nothing more than a façade, and so whenever the people are angry with one of the elected members, they are simply replaced without this anger ever being extended to apply to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide. The Supreme Guide keeps himself in the background; for he well knows that he would lose nearly half of his popularity should he be elected to any position. This is what happened to [US President] Barack Obama, and prior to this, [British Prime Minister] Winston Churchill, not to mention countless others. But what is most interesting, and what merits further study, is that being elected from behind the veil is not a Brotherhood innovation, but rather an Iranian one. The most prominent example here is Hezbollah, where ministers come and go whilst the de facto ruler remains Hassan Nasrallah, although he has never actually been elected. This is also what the Sadrists are doing today in Iraq, dedicating themselves to their [Shiite] religious authority, rather than serving their homeland and its citizens by genuinely taking part in the electoral system. I am, of course, talking about their dedication to the concept of the Wali al-Faqih [Guardian of the Jurists].

Therefore, it is difficult for one to be optimistic when dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood so long as there are no clear constitutional provisions governing the conditions of political operation, most importantly guaranteeing the peaceful transfer of power. The constitution should be the only reference, rather than a religious guide.