Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How will the Brotherhood’s Egypt Look Like – The Worst Case Scenario

How will an Egypt run by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) look like? That is a question asked by many Egyptians concerned about the rise of another Iran or simply a quasi-religious state run by a single interpretation of religion by a single political entity.

Before answering the above question, we have to note a few points. First, you must be living on Mars if you still do not admit that the MB will fare well, and very well, in the upcoming parliament elections. They might not win the majority of seats (over 50%) but they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Second, you must be cocooned in your own mindset, and also living on Mars, if you believe the current “secular” parties, in their current state, can put up a serious fight with the MB and the other Islamist forces. And who to blame for this? Mubarak who literally crushed any alternative to the Islamists so he alone appears to be that alternative. Third, it is important to know that we already live in a religious state! Our civil laws are based on a certain interpretation of Sharia. Egyptians Christians, non-observant Muslims and atheists cannot drink alcohol during Ramadan while Saudis and Somalis can. A Muslim cannot convert to a different religion while a Christian can. Unmarried couples cannot stay in the same hotel room while foreigners can. Egypt Air banned alcoholic beverages years ago while other major Middle Eastern airlines serve them. Abeer, the former Christian married woman who triggered the Imbaba sectarian clashes after running away with her Muslim lover got divorced from her Christian husband by a court decision. If a married Muslim woman did that, she would be accused of adultery and tried in court. In the 90s, Islamic studies professor Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid was separated from his wife, by a court decision, after they disapproved a book he wrote. Today he lives with his wife in Holland after seeking asylum there. And the list goes on and on and on. So, ladies and gentlemen, voila, you have been living in a religious state for the past 40 years!

So, what will the MB do with us if they became a powerful decision maker in the coming 5 years which is the life of the next post-revolution parliament. I will try to present to you the areas where I believe the MB and their Islamist allies might play in. Again, as the title of this post implies, I will be presenting the worst case scenario as I see it.

Bye bye Mama Suzanne family laws: They will abolish the family laws, many of them pushed for by Suzanne Mubarak and before her Gihan Sadat, that uphold certain degrees of women rights. For example, I believe they will ban kho’la, the ability of a woman to raise a case in court to be granted a divorce from her husband after forsaking all her Sharia bestowed marriage rights. They will lower the mother’s custody age, so in case of divorce the kids will be with their father if they were above nine I guess. Today I think they remain with their mother if they are below sixteen.

No booze for Egyptians: Again, I am presenting the worst case scenario as I see it. I believe a complete ban on alcohol is impossible because of tourism. Therefore, the worst that can happen is an abolishment on local alcohol beverages making. Touristic establishments will be allowed to import them instead (after lowering import duties of course). Those allowed to consume will be only the tourists, as it is the case now during Ramadan. A lesser dreadful scenario will be to allow Egyptians to consume alcohol in a tight network of five stars hotels. They will not be as strict on hash though. Who wants to upset millions of Egyptians after an election!

Embrace your head covered TV anchor and flight attendant: I personally do not have any problem with that because I do not have any bias whatsoever towards girls covering their hair. Heck, British Airways has female flight attendants donning a head cover.

Normal banking remains, “Islamic” banking encouraged: There is no way the MB will call for the ending of normal banking. Impossible. These guys are huge business owners. They are a big capitalist oriented party; they put money in these normal banks. What they can do is simply encourage “Islamic” banking that I do not see any different from normal banking. Encouraging “Islamic” banking is good news; more crooks with beards will appear! Remember El Rayaan and Saad?

The Christians: I believe the situation of Christians will remain unchanged at least for the coming 5 years even under an MB government. The Christians’ problem in Egypt goes far beyond the MB, it is disease in the society as a whole.  However, there is a bright observation that can somehow give us hope. The MB have been making approaches towards Christians in order to appear moderate as compared to the Salafis.  The MB party, Freedom and Justice party, appointed a Christian vice president and they said they won’t object a Christian president if the constitution states that all Egyptians can run for this office. The position of the MB as a movement remains to be against the appointment of a woman or a Christian for that office. The MB have asked the church to invite them to Easter mass, the church declined the invitation. Now, for a Muslim to attend Easter, this is something. On the day Salafis took over Tahrir, The MB stage chanted “Muslim and Christian are one”, only to be drowned by roars of “Islamic Islamic” from the fascist Salafis.  So who knows, may be in their attempt to appear moderate, the MB will do things that would be beneficial for the Christian community.

Head cover will NOT be forced, period: This is totally against Egyptian religiosity, against even what the MB believes. Plus why force it when nearly all Muslim women are wearing it in the first place?

Religious Police? Again, impossible. Imagine a police guy running towards a young couple on Kasr el Nil Bridge. What will happen? The Romeo will most probably throw him in the Nile.

A government with a strong MB presence can be tolerable and intolerable. Depends on where you draw the line. And depends on how long you can wait till an alternative emerges and till Egyptians, like their Iranian counterparts, discover that those who manipulate them using religion are not worthy of their votes.


  Posted by BP at 1:05 pm Comments (1)
Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tearing Down the Last Opposition – SCAF’s War on Young Activists

It all started by tarnishing the image of 6 April, a youth movement that fought Mubarak when all members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) were saluting him. Then came the turn on Kifaya. Lieutenant General Rowainy named the first serious opposition movement to the Mubarak regime “not Egyptian”. Then the Abasiyah events unfolded. The same army general incited the residents of Abasiyah to attack the incoming protesters resulting in the death of Mohamed Mohsen, a young activist from the Southern city of Aswan. And now Asamaa Mahfouz, a prominent young activist, summoned by the military court and released on bail of 20,000 Egyptian pounds. A military trial is awaiting her. The charges? Incitement and foul-mouthing SCAF!

It is crystal clear SCAF wants to intimate and eventually get rid of its last critics: the youth who did the revolution and their supporters. And all factors are enabling this. Let me briefly explain why.

The political landscape of Egypt is now composed of: SCAF, Islamists groups ranging from the Ikhwan till our own Fascists the Salafis, old and newly formed parties, and a wide array of disorganized and disoriented network of youth movements and independents fighting to press for the revolution’s demands.

The Islamists do not need to push for the revolution’s demands and bother SCAF because they are the biggest winners of January’s revolution. They are very organized, very well funded and they’re believed to be on their way to big gains in the upcoming elections. So why bother with pushing for the revolution demands?

The newly formed parties are just taking their first baby-steps in politics. They are underfunded and havocked by disunity. They do join the revolution youth in nearly all their demonstrations and sit-ins, but they don’t take a very firm stand against SCAF’s abuse of power.  These parties are still out of touch with the street and any effort they do to reach out to the people is confronted with a smear campaign by the Islamists. Notice what Rassd News did with Al Adl party and what happened to the Free Egyptians Party after the Mickey Mouse cartoons row.

The revolution youth remain to be the only entity that still pushes for the revolution demands. They are basically living in a constant state of revolution. Yet they are very disorganized and underfunded. And worse, they are out of touch with an increasingly weary and scared general population. This misunderstanding between the youth and the general public has enabled SCAF to create a rift between Egyptians and the most genuine people who risk their life for them. Very sad.

Given the above conditions, SCAF now has a completely free hand to whatever it wants to do. To do whatever it takes to deliver an Egypt that will maintain the status and privileges they enjoyed under the Mubarak regime.

  Posted by BP at 5:00 pm Comments (0)
Friday, August 12, 2011

و ماذا بعد احتلال التحرير

من كام يوم رحت للميدان على رجلى و مش فى عربية. اخر مرة رحت هناك و انا ماشى كانت يوم فض الاعتصام. كنت تقريبا على بعد سنتيميترات من ان ينقبض علىا. شوفت كذا حد اعرفه مقبوض عليه و بعدها عرفت ان المندسين كانوا بيشاوروا على اللى كان بيتردد على الميدان كتير و يقوم عساكر الجيش قبضين عليه. المندسين اللى كانوا عاملين نفسهم جذء من الاعتصام و وقفوا ضد فتح المرور فى الميدان عشان لما الجيش يجى يفض الاعتصام يبان هو اللى “حرر” الميدان. خطة فى غاية الذكاء الصراحة.

المهم, لما دخلت الميدان قلبى انقبض. روح كده غريبة كانت موجودة فى المكان. روح خوف و قلق و ترقب. عساكر امن مركزى واقفين حوالين الصينية الوسطانية و الباشاوات ضباط الامن المركزى قاعدين فى وسط الصينية على كراسى. و عساكر جيش منعين الدخول للحديقة اللى قدام الجامعة الامريكية. و عساكر جيش برضو قدام المجمع اللى اتمسح من عليه كل الجرافيتى و منهم الجرافيتى المفضل لى بتاع صباع الفنجرى.

واضح قوى ان المجلس العسكرى احتل الميدان و احتمال يفضل محتله على طول. المجلس العسكرى عامل زى اللى نزل احتل محل تحت بيته عشان المحل ده بيعمل صوت و مش بيخليه ينام. ميدان التحرير هو الحاجة الوحيدة اللى كانت بتضغط على المجلس و بترغمه انه يعمل حاجات هو فى الغالب مش عايز يعملها. لو ترجع بالذاكرة 6 اشهر لورا, هاتلاقى ان مافيش اى قرار اتخذه المجلس لتحقيق مطالب الثورة غير بعد امتلاء الميدان و التهديد بالاعتصام. كل قرار, صغير او كبير, كامل او ناقص, جاء بعد ضغط الميدان.

عشان يخلص من “وش” الميدان, قام المجلس باحتلاله بعد خطة فى غاية الذكاء: قام بتخوين الثوار زى ما عمل مع 6 ابريل و كفاية (6 ابريل و كفاية كانوا بيحاربوا مبارك يوم ما كان الروينى بيقدم له التحية العسكرية), قام بتحريض الشعب عليهم كما حدث فى العباسية و بعد خلق فجوة بين من قام بالثورة و بين الشعب قام باحتلال مصدر هذا “الوش” . و الحق يقال ان الثوار ساعدوا المجلس فى خطته بانفصالهم عن الشارع و فشلهم فى توصيل رسالتهم و انحصار شغلهم بس فى الميدان

طيب بما ان الميدان الان محتل, ما العمل الان. العمل هو جعل جميع شوارع مصر ميدان التحرير. العمل هو التواصل مع الشعب و خصوصا الجذء اللى نزل مع الثوار يوم 28 يناير و ترك الميدان و ترك مطالب الثورة بعد تنحى مبارك. التظاهرات و الاعتصامات شىء مهم جدا و الدليل الكلام اللى قلته فوق, و لكن التواصل مع الشعب لا يقل اهمية. الثورة مكانتش هاتنجح لولا نزول جذء ليس بقليل من الشعب الى الشارع.

يعنى على اليسار مثلا ان يبداء بالتواصل مع العمال و الفلاحيين و يتبنى قضاياهم. محدش يقدر يعمل ده غير التيار اليسارى اللى طول عمره متزعم الحركات العمالية. القوى اللى بتستخدم الدين مش هاتعمل ده عشان حكام البلاد مايزعلوش و اليبراليون مش هايعملوا ده لان حقوق العمال مش من قضاياهم.

استكمال مطالب الثورة ده اهم شىء و لكن مش هايحصل لو الثوار ماعرفوش يوصلوا برسالتهم للشارع. و نهاية اعتصام 8 يوليو, رغم النجاحات اللى حققها, خير دليل على ذلك.

  Posted by BP at 1:55 pm Comments (0)