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The Egyptian situation: The Dreadful Schism PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 21 July 2013 17:36

In my last update to this site which was about the recent events in Egypt, I said that the Muslim brotherhood have received a very heavy blow, but they are not going to accept what happened to them in a gentlemanly way or graciously.  They are going to strike back, but I never imagined that they were going to retaliate that soon after their defeat, because by the time the previous update appeared on this site what I have said then was already history, these people have been in politics for almost a century, they have been well established in Egyptian society through their extensive social work and superb organizational skills and discipline.  On Friday July 5, and after midday prayers, the deposed president’s supporters staged a series of marches across Cairo, about 2,000 of them advanced towards the headquarters of the Republican guard where the ex-president is believed to be held by the military, troops opened fire when they tried to force their way into the facility, they killed three and injured dozens.  Troops later on restored calm in Cairo, but the violent protests which were taking place at the same time in many places in the country left 36 dead and almost a thousand injured, the brotherhood has vowed to continue their fight until their man was reinstated, which is going to be a long and costly struggle, but their history gives a very strong credence to their current position.

The Muslim Brotherhood, is the Arab world's oldest, most influential and one of the largest Islamic movements, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was launched in Ismailia/Egypt on March 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, as a social, religious political organization.  Hassan al-Banna was born October 14, 1906 in Mahmudiyya, a rural town northwest of Cairo in the Nile delta, he died [assassinated] on February 12, 1949, he was a school teacher and Imam in a local mosque, he was born October 14, 1906 in Mahmudiyya, a rural town northwest of Cairo in the Nile delta, he died [assassinated] on February 12, 1949.  By the end of World War two the Muslim Brotherhood had an estimated two million members. Its ideas had gained numerous supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups with its "model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work". It started as a religious social organization; preaching Islam, teaching the illiterate, setting up hospitals and even launching commercial enterprises. After the Arab defeat in the First Arab-Israeli war, the Egyptian government dissolved the organization and arrested its members after they assassinated the prime minister of the day, al-Nukrashi Pasha, but it recovered within a very short time and resumed its activities when they supported the military coup which brought Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser to power in 1952, but it was a very short honeymoon and after a failed attempt to assassinate Nasser in 1954, it was once again banned and repressed. Abdel Nasser had six conspirators hanged, and put hundreds of thousands of its members in prisons and in concentration camps for years. Among those imprisoned was one of its most famous and important members, the famous writer and scholar Sayyid Qu?b, who authored a number of books during the course of his imprisonment including Signposts in the Road, which would become a template for modern Sunni militancy. Although Sayyid Qutub was released from prison in 1964, he was arrested again the following year and executed shortly thereafter. In the 1960s and ’70s the Brotherhood’s activities remained largely clandestine.

Nasser thought that he had crushed the brotherhood once and for all but he was mistaken like his predecessors,  It was once more banned and subjected to another period of oppression and persecution from 1965, but after the 2011 revolution which ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak it was legalized and in April 2011. The brotherhood launched a civic political party which was called the freedom and justice party to contest elections, and during the May-June 2012 presidential elections they stood behind Muhammad Mursi who was the chairman of the freedom party as their candidate who won the election and became president of Egypt on June 30, 2012.

Mursi ruled for one year, but he and the brotherhood made various fatal mistakes which lost them their dream of creating the religious state they have struggled to create for almost a hundred years. Few months into his presidency, Mursi, with the backing of his  brotherhood mentors issued a decree in which he granted himself sweeping powers to change laws, to veto court’s rulings, and to censor the media, they were so sweeping his opposition started to call him a pharaoh, he orchestrated a big charade during which the brotherhood were able to enact in a great hurry a constitution to the country which incorporated their own views about the shape and laws of the country ,he was accused of favoring his group over the interests of the millions of suffering Egyptians, he had absolutely no experience in government which was the reason he failed to tackle the staggering problems Egypt was facing, things very rapidly deteriorated during his days, the worst was a very severe deterioration of the already very bad economic situation, all of this added a great deal of fire to an already very explosive situation in a highly polarized society. And an incredible storm was gathering speed towards the end of June 2013 which was the first anniversary of  his presidency.

A very powerful group of liberal and opposition businessmen and a number of political parties, officials of the Mubarak regime and many Christians, who were led by a youth activists group called Tamarod [rebellion], began a campaign of massive protests nationwide to oust the islamist president, they called for mass rallies to start June 30, the anniversary of his inauguration, During the last week of June 2013, Egypt was boiling with an intense rebellion against president Mursi, the opposition was trying to force him to resign, but he did not oblige.  Mursi was hoping that the Muslim brotherhood which has got him the presidency will come to his rescue.  His refusal to step-down created a very dangerous situation in an already exceedingly polarized society and threatened a civil war, which impelled the army to intervene with what they called a road plan, they gave the conflicting groups 48 hours to resolve the deadly political crisis, and threatened that if the president and his opponents failed to heed the will of the people the armed forces would interfere with its own road map for resolving the crisis. The army’s ultimatum was rejected by Mursi, so the army chief presented a plan which included the suspension of the constitution, the president of the constitutional court is to assume the role of an interim leader until a new president is elected and the formation of a government by technocrats. The plan was rejected by the president So the army went ahead and implemented their plan on Wednesday July 3, 2013 which resulted in the ousting of the president when army commandos came to take him and keep him under arrest in an undisclosed defense ministry facility and so the decades old dream of the Muslim Brotherhood of establishing an Islamist rule in Egypt was left in ruins.

It was a huge loss, but the brotherhood was not going to accept their defeat with their hands down, one of their leaders said we are an idea not a cluster of people he said  they were going to fight back, meanwhile the new powers which were backed by the military were going ahead with their own plans for the future of the country, they appointed an interim president, they abolished the constitution which was written by the brotherhood, and they disbanded the parliament. The interim president issued a decree promising a new constitution and a speedy election of a new president and  assembled a new cabinet with the army chief as the first prime minister and minister of defense, But the brotherhood refused to accept these moves and insisted that they were illegal, they were the result of an insupportable military coup and called their supporters to demonstrate against them until their deposed president was reinstated, they gathered in huge numbers in Cairo and many cities nationwide in a great show of defiance against the new regime. To which the supporters of the new regime responded in a similar style, but These demonstrations by the two conflicting sides were reasonably peaceful in the beginning, but on Friday and the early morning of Saturday things got very violent in a number of cities nationwide which resulted in a number of deaths and very serious incidents involving the two adversaries and the army.

The current situation in Egypt is extremely worrying. Both sides in this tragic schism are very tenacious, stubborn and uncompromising which left the Egyptian society appallingly polarized and divided.

The current situation in Egypt is extremely dangerous and highly explosive, the country’s future is bleak, very grim and highly inflammable.

Najeeb Hanoudi

Saturday, July 20, 2013

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