Viewpoint: Egypt – Muslim brotherhood’s hurried Islamization backfires?

July 8, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Islamization backfiresEgypt, July 07, 2013: In some Muslim countries in the middle east, the spread of education and enlightenment and the tradition of learning is widespread, whereas in other Muslim countries it is not so. Thus in the former type of countries the general public understands Islam better, knows how to interpret it in today’s modern environment, and knows that today we live in a complex and composite world, where there is much diversity of thought and where government has to be pluralistic.

But in the later type of Muslim countries where education is not widespread, that are not diverse, and that have not yet fully emancipated, people make a literal interpretation of Islam and try to make their society like it was in the remote past.

That has led to very few Muslim countries being able to practice democracy and yet be Islamic. In the middle east Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Iran are the Muslim countries that have long tradition of learning and where education is widespread. In these countries it is not possible to suffuse fundamentalist Islamic ideology in all walks of life in a hurry and it is not possible to muscle out the liberal Muslims and non-Muslims and put them in a corner.

In Egypt just about one year ago the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi became President in a democratic election through the support of a majority of the population. He promised to take all segments of society with him. But in practice he instead tried to put in a corner the liberal Muslims, the minorities and the modernist Muslims. In Egypt Christians are more than 10 percent of the population and more than half of the Muslims can be classified as liberal/modernistic. Morsi put in the front and mainstream segments of government organizations, mostly the orthodox Muslims who follow the practices of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In developing a new constitution for Egypt, President Morsi manipulated the political process. He packed the commission that developed the new constitution with ideologues from the Muslim Brotherhood with no place or voice for the liberal Muslims, the minority Christians and the modernists. And he made that commission develop a rather lopsided constitution that favoured the Brotherhood’s ideology in a hurry. Many segments of the Egyptian society and civic organizations objected strongly against the lopsided new Egyptian constitution as not representing the will of the people of Egypt.

When he ran into well established laws and procedural requirements of governance, he bypassed them in his hurry to put the Brotherhood’s orthodox version of an Islamic democracy into the new constituion and in making rules that governed the election to the Egyptian parliament. That resulted in a parliament whose members were elected in violation of the laws and norms of Egypt . The top Egyptian court nullified the election and dissolved the elected house of the parliament. At that time President Morsi decreed that all of the power of the elected house of the parliament is to be given to the nominated house of parliament.

Indeed, President Morsi was so fully occupied with this Islamization- in- a- hurry of the government that his governance of the country suffered badly. He paid very little attention to the very bad law -and- order situation and the very depressed economic situation in the country. Crime, sectarian crime, poverty and despair soared across the country and the ordinary people’s sufferings multiplied hugely.

The result of that was a very widespread despair among the ordinary Egyptians. But President Morsi continued to ignore the huge despair of the population. When his opponents asked him to include them more in the political and policymaking process he stonewalled them. That finally resulted in his political opponents appealing to the military to repair the very deteriorated situation. The military counseled President Morsi to include the opposition parties in his government. But Morsi declined to do so. That standoff resulted in the Egyptian military removing President Morsi from office.

What has happened in Egypt is a setback for Muslims who maintain that Islam is a modern and democratic creed that can adjust itself with changing circumstsnces. If instead Morsi had first paid more attention to governing the country, to reducing the pressing hardships of ordinary Egyptians, to improving law and order, and had made sure that he did not violate or over-rule the laws of the land, and was more in the middle, he would have had a better chance to Islamize Egypt’s governmental apparatus. The pace of Islamization would have been slower but it would have been more stable.

The successful last decade under Premier Recip Erdogan in Turkey on the other hand is a contrast to Morsi’s failed Presidency in Egypt. In his first five years Erdogan paid maximum attention to improving economy and law and order situation. It is only when he was able to bring significant improvement in the lives of the ordinary people including the minorities, that in his second term he started bringing gradual Islamization in Turkey. The result is a stable Turkey that is also gradually moving towards Islamization.

If Egypt was a Muslim country with lower levels of education, a less modern society, and better economic situation there was a possibility that Morsi’s methods may have succeded. But his and the Muslim Brotherhood’s extra forceful methods in a diverse country like Egypt had little chance of success.

We Muslims have much lesson to learn from the contrast in Erdogan’s successful governance in Turkey and Morsi’s failed governance in Egypt. It is a tragedy that in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood aspired and prepared to rule the country for more than seventy years, but when they got the opportunity, they chose a hardline and myopic governance strategy that was a misfit for the Egyptian society and that had not been not fully thought through. The bottom line is that to make Islamic idelogy and methods successful in Muslim countries, Muslims have to do much homework, be open to some adjustment with others and have a pragmatic and not overtly ideological strategy.

– Kaleem Kawaja / tcn

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Comments are closed.