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To the Egyptians: Take an Honest Stand - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We’ve often warned of the religious congestion that is taking place, and growing in Egypt, and we said: The danger is not to the Egyptians alone, but to the Arab world in general. We also said: The destruction of Egypt is a disaster for the region; its interests are the region’s interests as well, for Egypt has significant influence over us.

In the past we have been accused of blatantly defending the authorities, yet today, after the Egyptians woke up to the disaster of the terrorist attack in Alexandria, everyone has rushed to warn of the danger of what is happening, speaking with the same logic that we have been using for years. The Egyptians used to criticize us for it, but unfortunately afterwards, it seems the axe has fallen on their heads. Now, some of them are remembering the principle of national unity, and that there is no difference between Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians, and that Egypt is in danger, which in turn is a danger for everyone!

Therefore, what is required from the Egyptians today is that they do not blame their problems on external forces, but instead they must sit down with each other, and take an honest stand. They must account for their mistakes, the defects in their country, and the impact that their culture is having, religiously, economically, politically, and even technologically. It is not enough to say that the terrorist act was merely an external plot, Egyptian terrorists are located in each of the following countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and even Iran. The lesson to be learned from terrorism and terrorists is that it doesn’t matter whether the terrorists live outside their home country, they inevitably return to it. The experiences of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, and the Arab States in general, are testament to this.

When Egyptians take an honest stand with themselves, they will discover a grave error that has struck their culture, and has allowed extremism to spread there. Then they will know how an act of this kind could have taken place in Alexandria, a city of tolerance. Then they will discover the extent to which fundamentalist discourse has infiltrated their culture. In Egypt during the 1950s, and even 1960s, it was commonplace to see Christian names next to Muslim ones, whether in art, or philosophy, or other areas. Yet in Egypt today, talk is orientated around Christian-Muslim problems!

When the Egyptians sit down with each other they will discover what extremist discourse has done to them. Egyptian education today is not the same standard as it was during the 1950s, when it was comparable to Western education. The sense of Egyptian nationalism has faded since it was usurped by the argument that Islam is the solution. Gaza has become more important than Cairo, while Tehran’s Egyptian journalists are able to overtly maneuver within Egypt. Moreover, Hassan Nasrallah is able to challenge Egypt and its army, with support from Egyptian fundamentalists and the devil’s advocates, and they are many. We have also seen the former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide [Mohammed Mahdi Akef] openly state: “To hell with Egypt”!

Therefore, it is not enough for Egyptians to say that what happened in Egypt was the result of foreign interference, for this is mere escapism, rather than confronting the truth. Instead, what happened in Alexandria was the result of a prolonged act of social destruction, whereby the country has produced all forms of extremism. We only need to recall how al-Qaradawi took pride last week, in our newspaper, stating that religion could play a role in politics throughout the Arab world, citing improving relations between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to appreciate what we stand to lose [if the Egyptian situation deteriorates]!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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