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.