- Judicial advisory body recommends dissolution of Egypt’s Brotherhood
- Egyptian authorties charges Morsi with inciting murder
- Islamists plan rallies on Tuesday marking two months since the overthrow of Morsi
- Sisi meets with UAE Crown Prince
- Giza police station hit with explosion
- Constituent Assembly make-up draws Mixed reactions
- Egypt says prepared to repay Qatari loan in days if necessary
- Police state not coming back, says Egypt’s interim president
- Military court sentences 11 to life for Suez clashes
- Egypt’s constitution committee is balanced: April 6
- Egypt condemns a raid by Hamas on an Egyptian cultural center in Gaza –
- Hamas says Egyptian military building buffer zone with Gaza
- Hamas dismisses talk of strike by Egypt against Gaza
- Obama weighs aid suspension to Egypt
- African Union calls n Egypt’s political forces to support transition, Brotherhood inclusion
- Egypt will not attend convoy to Turkey unless interference ceases: Foreign Ministry
- Egypt’s Interior Minister Removes prison official
- Egypt puts ex-chief prosecutor on no-travel list
- Egypt’s constitution drafters defend eliminating controversial Sharia article
- 31 Palestinians denied entry, deported to Gaza
- Egypt’s interior minister escapes assassination
- 21 injured in Interior Minister’s “assassination attempt”: health officials –
- British teenager loses her leg in a suspected suicide bomb attack in northern Cairo
- Assassination attempt on Minister likely suicide bombing
- Egyptian military arrests leading revolutionary socialist member
- Widespread condemnation in Egypt for bomb attack
- Egypt to decide soon on dissolving the Brotherhood’s NGO
- Morsi’s supporters hold new protests in Egypt
- Anti-coup protests continue in different cities across Egypt
- Hagel Discusses Security With Egypt’s defense minister
- One dead after Thursday’s bomb attack in Cairo
- Labour rights lawyer and Sinai journalist detained
- Constituent assembly prepares for first meeting
- Egypt army attacks Sinai’s Islamists as militancy spreads
- Improvised device explodes at police station in Cairo, with no injuries
- Egyptian army finds explosives on rail line near Suez
- Prosecutor investigates foreign funding charges against activists
- New Qatari satellite to maneuver around al-Jazeera shutdown by Egypt
- Amr Moussa elected head of Egypt’s Constitution drafting body
- Egypt’s primary education ranks last in Global Competitiveness report
- Al-Azhar agrees with churches leaders to maintain Egypt’s “Islamic identity” in the constitution
- Revolutionary Socialists leader Haitham Mohammadein discharged from prosecution
A Few Thoughts
One of the most intriguing arguments that I have heard about in support of the forced ending of the pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa and Nahda, is the story of the Derar mosque. This story is quoted in the Quran’s Al-Tawbah Sura (chapter), verse 107 and 108, in which God described those who occupied Derar mosque as hypocrites, disuniting believers, “They will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good; but Allah declare that they are certainly liars.” Upon receiving this verse, Prophet Mohamed sent some of his companions to burn down Derar mosque.
It s pointless to discuss the background of the Derar mosque, as it is like many stories mentioned in the Quran, open to various interpretations. Nonetheless, it is interesting that it has been picked up by some anti-Muslim Brotherhood Islamists to justify the forced ending of the sit-ins. Weren’t those in Rabaa inciting against the larger society? Feeding hatred? Undermining the foundation of the state? In their minds, the answers are yes to the above questions, and the story of Derar gives the right pretext to sanction the police interventions. Needless to say, the pro-Muslim Brotherhood vociferously dismisses that argument and call out their opponents as hypocrites that betrayed the legitimate leader of the country. This story is just one example of the current battle in Egypt, a battle in which both sides are armed with verses from the holy book of Islam to justify their actions.
If linking the Derar mosque with Rabaa is alarming, then the debate about Egypt’s new constitution is seriously worrying to say the least. The Salafi Nour party has decided to apply their literalistic approach to Islam toward Egypt’s constitution. In their opinion, words have to be clear and with a decisive tone. Based on that argument, they consider article 2, which imposes the principles of Islamic sharia as the main source of legislation in the country as unclear and un-Islamic, and they consider article 219 of the suspended constitution as a good explanation of article 2. They argue that the word “principals” was never mentioned in the Quran, Hadith, or in any of scholarly interpretation; hence they want either a clear stating of Sharia as “Quran and Hadith” in article two, or to retain article 219 as it is.
Nour party’s literalistic view has already generated uproar in the non-Islamist camp. It remains to be seen if other scholars will find a compromise phrasing. There are rumors that the Nour party may withdraw from the constitution committee before the start of the formal discussion to avoid being seen as compromising on Islamist principles in front of its constituency; if true, then it will be another cunning political maneuver from the relatively novice Salafi party. Meanwhile Amr Moussa has been elected Chairman of the 50-Member Constituent Assembly, with ex- Muslim Brotherhood Kamal al- Helbaway among 3 others as chair people. It is worth noting that the Assembly that has no judges among its members, and is imbalanced in its composition with very few Islamists.
Concurrently, there are also growing demands to separate religious groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, and even the Salafi Dawaa Salafyia from their political wings like the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party and the Salafi Nour party. Many Salafi leaders seem to be happy with this formula, probably because they feel it will harm the Brotherhood more than them. Furthermore, the move to ban the Muslim Brotherhood NGO, officially formed only last March, but was running illegally for decades, is also aimed to undermine the group’s social roots. Separating preaching from politics, together with banning the Islamists’ formal social activities will harm the Brotherhood more than banning the formal Brotherhood organization.
Policymakers inside Egypt’s current leadership seem to be of two minds about what to do with the Muslim Brotherhood. The doves are advocating a partially open window policy, allowing the Muslim Brotherhood as a political party, but not as an organization to practice politics. The hawks are advocating complete eradication of the organization. It is still unclear which side will win the debate.
Against this background, the security forces are on high alert, especially after the failed assassination attempt against the interior minister and several foiled bomb attacks. Pro-Morsi alliances seem to be fighting on two fronts: thru persistent marches, hoping that these may gradually attract more crowds, while their supporters from radical Jihadists __or others___ have opted to try violence to undermine the current authority.
It is important to understand that Morsi’s supporters are in desperate mood and are willing to gamble in order to achieve even a symbolic victory or a turning of the tide against the supporters of the military. It is worth remembering that the state of emergency is officially due to end on September 14th (two months after ending the sit-ins). Any extension, particularly of the curfew, will probably be counter-productive, and may swing the public mood against the government. The latest Baseera poll shows 73% of Egyptians do not feel safe, and 50% say incomes affected by the curfew.
Managing this stage of conflict in Egypt will be challenging for the interim government and for the army leadership. It requires delicacy, finesse, and cunningness. The crowds that supported General Sisi will not stay loyal forever, particularly if they do not see any improvements in security and economics. Can the leadership understand that indulging in the security measures will play into their opponents’ hands? Can they understand that inclusive democracy is the best way to fight terrorism?
Egypt needs urgent state building measures, in which there is a balance between security and freedom, and between politics and religion. Thus far, the country is still hijacked by literalists and opportunists from all sides, and if it continues on this path, Egypt will end up galloping towards either a police state or a failed state, with many stories, similar to that of the Derar mosque, usurped to justify future failures.
- Full chart of Egypt’s Constitutional Assembly
- A database listing charges, warrants, trial information for the Muslim Brotherhood leaders
- Egypt Needs a proportional electoral system. Wael Nawara
- The battle of the archives: What Egypt’s intellectual lost. Joshua Hersh
- Squandered opportunities. Mohamed Fouad
- Polarization in Egypt continues, as parties repeat old mistakes. H. Hellyer
Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt