Thursday, April 26, 2012
A couple of days ago a colleague at work told me this story.
“I went to my barber whom I know voted for the Muslim Brotherhood. He kept telling me about how he regrets voting for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and he won’t repeat the same mistake the next elections,” said my delighted friend.
Stories likes these are found all over Facebook and Twitter. I have my own story too. An acquaintance who owns a factory told me about her employee who regretted voting for the MB after watching our parliament decent into the useless circus it is now. “This guy is even a member of the MBâ€™s Freedom and Justice Party,” she added. Even my own housekeeper told me about how she overheard passengers on microbuses expressing their discontent with the MB led parliament.
Nevertheless, we do not have concrete evidence that the Islamists are losing support. In light of the absence of any solid research data, we cannot presume that voters are turning away from neither the Salafis nor the MB on a national level.Â Â However, let us assume that Islmaists are in fact losing support. The question now is: do we have an alternative to present to the people? The answer is a no. We do not have the political or the religious alternative to the Islamists.
The civil forces are all in disarray. They’re unorganized and out of touch with the street. They’re all mired by arrogance and egoism, anyÂ attemptÂ of unity disintegrates into quarrels and disagreements. The civil forces, whether liberals or leftists, do not have the political machine of the MB nor the finances the Salafis get from Arab sympathizers in the Gulf. And above all, the civil forces do not have the mosques.
However, I stillÂ trulyÂ believe that if a viable political alternative was presented to theÂ EgyptianÂ people, they will consider voting for it if they decided not to vote Islamists. Look at the student union elections at Ain Shams University, one of the MB’s strongholds. The MB lost massively to a coalition of pro-revolution independents.Â Angry at the Islamistsâ€™ indifference to last yearâ€™s Tahrir clashes, Ain Shams University students, who lost more than one of their colleagues in these clashes, voted for the alternative. And kudos to these young independents who managed to win in spite of their meager means and the fact that they donâ€™t have a political party supporting them.
I am waiting eagerly for the presidential election results. If the winner turned out to be a non-Islamists, that will be proof Egyptians vote for whomever they think will put bread on the table and not necessary those who want to ban porn sites. In a recent Al Masry Al Youm poll, only 4% of respondents mentioned â€œShariah lawâ€ among the things they want the next president to do.
So who will be that political alternative? Who is willing to brush aside their personal interests, leave the comfortable seats of the TV talk shows and get their hands dirty in the street?
The quest for a religious alternative is as crucial as the political alternative weâ€™re looking for. By religious alternative I mean someone who can present a different religious discourse than what the MB and their more radical cohorts are presenting, an interpretation of religious law that is more compatible with our age.
Currently, in light of an Al Azhar that was weakened years ago and has lost its credibility in the street, our religious discourse is monopolized by the political islamists. Â I believe what Egypt needs is not a radical secularist, but someone who can incorporate the overall tenets of religious law into modern day life. Someone who can differentiate between what was suitable for life 1400 years ago and what needs to be reformed and reinterpreted.
Iâ€™ve discussed the historical events that led to the demise of our religious reform movement in my post Islam Needs Another Revolution
In Kevin Costnerâ€™s Field of Dreams, the voice told him â€œIf you build it, he will comeâ€. Â I here say â€œIf you offer an alternative, they will voteâ€.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Update: 3 candidates from the below list were disqualified: Omar Soliman, Shater, Hazem Abu Ismael. They have 48 hours to appeal the decision of the Elections High Comission.
Below is your guide to the candidates in the upcoming presidential elections:
Abdel Moniem Aboul Fotouh: you’ll vote for him if you’re looking for a go between between political Islam and liberalism. You’ll give him your vote if you respect the bold stands he took vis a vis SCAF and the MB during the past year. Aboul Fotouh stood by Tahrir against SCAF when it was unpopular to do so and when the MB were busy forging deals and “understandings” with the army generals.
It is not clear how Aboul Fotouh really stands on social issues, he never gave a clear cut answer as to how he will implement religious laws or his relationship with the MB if he became president. Nevertheless, his comforting rhetoric managed to increase his popularity among university students, the middle class and surprisingly among certain middle class Christians.
Omar Soliman: you’ll vote for him if you think he can restore security and curtail the increasing power of the Islamists. You’re willing to disregard the fact that he was Mubarak’s vice and was involved in the CIA’s rendition plan in order to vote for someone whom you think will bring back Egypt back to normality. You’re not pro or anti the revolution. You just want to live in peace and hand the presidency to someone whom you think knows how to run it.
Even if you voted for the MB and Salafis during the parliament elections, you might consider Omar Soliman if you are not so obsessed about the necessity of involving religion in politics. During the parliament elections, you voted for those you know and believe can deliver if they were elected to the parliament. You will follow the same rule next May and vote for the guy you know best and think can be the “strong president” you believe Egypt needs.
Hazem Abu Ismael (if he was allowed to run): Abu Ismael’s rise to prominence is one thing that I just do not understand till now. I remember when he used to call for protests in Tahrir, he could barely amass a crowd of 2000. How he ascended to be one of Egypt’s most popular men in a month is something that have to be studied.
You’ll vote for him because you adhere to his radical interpretation of religious law. You simply believe that God would be happier if he found Egypt to be a second Kabul. You somehow brought what Abu Ismael says during his mosque sermons in spite of the fact that he said Pepsi means “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel” and believes Bill Clinton was the US president who ratified the Camp David agreement. You think the US is busy setting up a conspiracy against the guy despite the fact that his mother, sister and brother are US citizens living in hottie Santa Monica.
Amr Moussa: he is the experienced diplomat whom Mubarak persecuted because of his popularity. You’ll vote for him because, like Omar Soliman, he’s the guy you know, and as we say in Egypt: what you know is better than what you don’t know.
Amr Moussa wears nice suits, he is an eloquent speaker and he just looks presidential.
Ahmed Shafik: you will vote for him because you like Terminal 3 in Cairo airport.
Khaled Ali: if you’re voting for Khaled Ali, then you’re most probably a leftist and part of the Tahrir protest movement. You are a revolutionary who see in Khaled Ali a dream of having a young president who represents the revolution and its values. If you are a revolutionary and will not vote for Khaled Ali, then most probably you’re either boycotting the elections or voting for Abdel Moniem Aboul Fotouh.
Khairat El Shater: you will vote for Shater because you obey what the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide says. Period.
Mohamed Moursy: Mohamed Moursy is Khairat El Shater’s substitute if the latter was disqualified because of a legal implication. Yet before voting for Moursy you would also get your order from the MB supreme guide to do so.
Hamdeen Sabahy: you’ll vote for Sabahy if you’re a Nasserite (adherent to Nasser’s ideology) and like what he says on the talk shows.
Selim el Awa: you’ll vote for Awa only if you’re a jerk and an a*s h*le.
Friday, April 6, 2012
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