Grave concerns about “Totalitarian” Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt

November 9, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

“We are in an era that we can describe as “Ikhwanization”* by which the Muslim Brotherhood is imposing control over state institutions.” (* “Ikhwan” is the Arabic word for the Brotherhood)

Comparisons have been drawn with the politics of Vladimir Lenin

Comparisons have been drawn with the politics of Vladimir Lenin

Egypt, November 7, 2012: Advocates for human rights and democracy have raised grave concerns about the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as it continues to tighten its grip on the functions of state.

In a Telegraph blog on Monday, Alan Johnson, a senior research associate at The Foreign Policy Centre, said that the Muslim Brotherhood “are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress”. He referred to an account by Paul Berman, The Flight of the Intellectuals, which argues that the Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, was shaped both ideologically and organisationally by mid-century European totalitarianism.

Barnabas Fund has previously highlighted a number of the ways that the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist President Mohammed Morsi have ruthlessly removed opponents and silenced critics, tightening their hold on the country.

And their grip continues to strengthen. Leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been appointed to the influential posts of provincial governors; these are chosen by the president and implement his policies. Two of the new Brotherhood governors are in areas with large Christian populations, Minya and Assiut.

Islamists have also taken up seats on Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, a body that is meant to keep the government in check on these issues. After the revolution it played a key role in proposing to parliament bills against, among other things, discrimination towards Christians.But the new line-up does not bode well for Christians or women in Egypt. Among the Islamists in the 27-member council are several members of the ultraconservative Salafist movement, which, in line with sharia, opposes Christians having equal political rights with Muslims and has spoken out against those who advocate “un-Islamic” women’s rights.

There are just three Christians in the new council, two of whom are women, and only one other woman. Only two of the new members are known for their long-term human rights’ advocacy.

Bahy Eddin Hassan of the Arab Center for Human Rights Studies said, “We see a council tasked to defend human rights while its members are opponents to human rights.”

Islamist politicians have been given positions on a powerful state media body, the High Press Council. The upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, has also replaced 50 chief editors of state-run newspapers with Islamists or Brotherhood sympathisers.

It seems that the Brotherhood is manoeuvring itself into an indomitable position at what is a pivotal point in Egyptian history. A referendum on the country’s new constitution is due to take place before the end of the year.

The draft sows the seeds for an Islamic state as debates about the extent of the role of sharia continue. Hard-line Salafists are pushing for phrasing that would ensure its implementation; the Brotherhood has accommodated their demands by expanding the phrase “the principles of sharia” to include “the juristic rules” of sharia agreed upon by scholars and the “accepted sources” of the Quran’s interpretation. Yousseri Hamad, spokesman for the Salafist al-Nour party, said, “This satisfies us and we agree on it.”

The character of the new Egyptian state is likely to impact the surrounding nations, because the Brotherhood’s influence extends far beyond Egypt. It has supporters throughout the world but is particularly strong in North Africa and the Middle East, especially Tunisia through the ruling Ennahda party, and is growing in Syria and Jordan.

Manal el-Tibi, a human rights activist who left the Egyptian constituent assembly in objection to its overtly Islamist agenda, said:

The Islamists dominate and they want not only an Islamic Egypt but a caliphate.
(Caliphate refers to the early Islamic empire, a united Muslim state under one ruler, expanding by jihad.)

If she is right and this is indeed the Muslim Brotherhood’s end goal, it is a menacing prospect for Christians in the region. They have already been experiencing increased hostility and violence in the wake of the Arab Spring, and this would threaten their very existence in lands that have long been their home.

– barnabas edit

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