The Muslim Brotherhood exercise of power in Egypt has ended fast. It is hard to measure how far the experience of the oldest and strongest Muslim group in the Middle East could have reached in ruling the largest populated Arabic country. People still at the moment reflect on this year based on their affiliations, varying between intense support and severe hatred to the Brotherhood experience. But the question remains; was the brotherhood removal from power due to mass public rejection, or this was a result of other political actors’ planning in the context of an ongoing power struggle that started with the January 25 revolution?!
On contrary to what brotherhood followers say, armed force was not the overbalance element in the equation of their removal from power. Reducing the effect of all the preceding and accompanying events to be only told as a story of a military coup ignores the key actors in grapping the power of
Some Egyptian organizations and institutions have participated in the gradual overthrow of the political legitimacy of the Brotherhood regime by limiting its popularity and by drowning it in problems and mazes throughout their whole year in power, which led to the collapse of the brotherhood regime finally. The common element among these entities participating in the overthrowing of Brotherhood is not a secret, it is also far from being the product of a conspiracy, as conspiracies are dominated by secret motives and moves while in this case the common element is clearly visible to the eye, it is the most vital and essential element for any entity indeed. The main motive is the desire to survive and neither to disappear nor to vanish or to be replaced.
The real problem between the Brotherhood system and the institutions of: the political parties; the media; the judiciary; the civil society was a structural problem. Brotherhood real problem with these four bodies was not a conflict in the political, economical or social sense of the word. In a nutshell, these four institutions, taking in consideration their status quo; their formations; their practical priorities; and the mission and values of their foundations, they are not part of the Islamic manual to manage countries, neither the new nor the old versions of such an imaginary manual. Since the scopes of work of these four entities definitely intersect with the areas of impact and the self-definition of the Islamic state for itself, therefore collision was inevitable. If the Brotherhood authority had prevailed then, the new situation wouldn’t have only resulted in retirement or reduction of the work scale of those who are involved in these areas, but it would have been a complete change in the tools of the game, most probably a complete change will occur in the leading positions of the first and second rows at the very least, if not a full closure of the field and a completely different utilization of the labels and the administrative, human and institutional capacities of these fields in order to implement the Islamic agenda.
One way or another, the brotherhood dominated a plenty of fields during the period of their rule and prior to it. Most of the major and sub-basic unions and syndicates were under their control even before the revolution. The huge Egyptian bureaucracy was noticeably Islamized with the commencing of Morsi presidency, although it was mostly a superficial act and part of the Egyptian governmental employees’ systematic hypocrisy to any regime. Those whom were negatively affected by the precedent economical, social and legal systems have took advantage of the pre-revolution relative freedoms of association and organized groups and social movements, examples of these recently activated categories of Egyptians are: pensioners, women-headed households, some politically suppressed youth, male harmed by family laws and poor people seeking social solidarity. Those who were harmed the most on purpose or by ignoring their needs for decades they had either connected or even interacted positively with the brotherhood regime. These categories thought that the Muslim Brotherhood is able to solve their dilemma that lasted for decades.
Those who were neither politicized nor linked to the four previously mentioned entities among the Egyptian middle class had formed a significant component that ranged between neutrality and support for the Brotherhood regime at its beginning. Those middle class Egyptians didn’t feel admiration or affiliation to Brotherhood, as the latest didn’t often do what should have made it deserves praise for the post-revolution era, but this huge category were at least hoping for better managing to the country. Based on their social and practical statuses, as doctors, engineers, pharmacists and teachers and so on, they were not involved in the power struggle. Furthermore, their relatively economical independence formed a base to an almost total disregard to the public interest and the public sphere in general, that’s how their lives had been formulated during the Mubarak regime for decades. As a result, this middle class was usually not in the fray or in the societal influence debate in the first place, leaving the scene to the Brotherhood on one hand and the judiciary, the media, the political parties and lately the civil society on other hand. They played the role of spectators or enthusiasts, whom in their most active roles rising up factional demands with no political stretch.
The Political Parties
The term party(ies) (ahzab) is associated with a negative connotation in the Islamic religious context. The invasion of (ahzab) is considered one of the most famous and important invasions that was led by the prophet Mohamed in the early days of Islam, this specific invasion was also linked to a certain extent in the settled biography of the prophet with the participation of the Jewish element as one of the enemy parties (ahzab). Moreover, the (adha) feast Islamic prayer which is very popular and widely attended annually by all Muslim communities all over the globe, in the special call of this prayer, the parties (ahzab) are put among the enemies of Islam itself, that we can recognize in the call “… he (god) defeated (al ahzab) alone…”. Political wise, parties are based on the ideas of the civil state that was created by the modern state in Europe, which was never accommodated by classical Islamic movements. El Shater (deputy of the spiritual leader and the most important commander in the brotherhood) he said in an earlier post-revolution popular meeting, attended by thousands of Brotherhood members, referring to brotherhood newly established party “The freedom and justice party”, he said that the party does not mean anything, and it is not important for the brotherhood, and it should not be perceived as more than a way to gain power through the tools of Western democracy.
Brotherhood grudgingly established their party. As a matter of logic, the brotherhood respect to a political system based on multiparty couldn’t exceed their respect to their own party creation process itself. The Brotherhood had created simple and comprehensive crucibles to the Egyptian parties, by which it facilitates to contempt the competitors in front of their followers and their potential supporters. According to their classification, parties are either left-wing parties calling for atheism and departing the religion, or they are liberal parties calling for dissolution and debauchery, and hence, both branches are combined in not condemning of governance (hakemia) to god and his law (shariah). The latest is a reason that sooner or later, will lead to existential collusion. There is no justification for the existence of political parties in a state where Islamic army and police are ruled by the command of Islamic master.
Brotherhood was compulsory isolated from the media for decades. Their representatives didn’t have the chance to appear on the screen of any news or talk show channel until the Egyptian revolution changed that situation. They also didn’t have the full opportunity to create their own public media before the era of satellites and YouTube. The emergence of the post revolution political Islamic channels like (Al Hafiz) and (Egypt 25) which dealt directly with political topics for the first time made it clear for the normal neutral audience the amateurish situation which the Egyptian state media could have reach professionally and technically if it ever happened that the these two examples are to be taken as role models for other media outlets and channels dominated by the regime.
Brotherhood media did not care about the minimum requirements of the form or the appearance or the artistic view that they were supposed to take care of if they had wanted to reach a competitive level and if they were really planning to be at the forefront in the future. As a result of the obvious weakness and hence the regression in the competition with the non-Islamic media in general, the religious media broadcasters began to slide to the quagmire of insults and abuses to non-Islamic broadcasters and public figures. For the aforementioned reasons, the whole experience of political media shortly turned out to be a platform to expose the sins of the famous political and culture secular public figures to the Islamic fans following the Islamic channels 24/7.
It’s only fair to state that freedom of expression in general, and freedom of media in specific, has not reached in six decades such wide limits to criticize the regime, as it has reached in the brotherhood single year in power. This freedom was not taken against the brotherhood will and it was not a result of their weakness in ruling the country. On contrary, it can be perceived as a clear policy that was chosen by the brotherhood in order to avoid some fights which they thought not worth fighting, also this media policy was chosen as an attempt to consolidate a democratic image to their ruling internationally. But as we witnessed, this policy was a direct cause for the collapse of the regime popularity and prestige as time passes during that year.
The brotherhood was losing the media battle in all fronts. If it had happened that the Brotherhood had controlled both the judiciary and the media funding, even before they control the army and police, I believe that the media field would have experienced a significant reduction and severe budgets cuts. This estimation came out of the fact that Egyptian media machine probably can be considered the biggest supporter body for liberalism and secularism in Egypt. Also, the media machine interferes with one of the highest influence Islamic idea components on the process of bringing up new generations which the brotherhood give significant importance in their literature, activities and structure. Hence, news media and entertainment media purposes were to be devoted to cheer and praise the Islamic authority only, with wide range of censorship on all levels and much less choices to the audience.
The minor difference between the Brotherhood and the Egyptian judiciary system is in few titling of personal and legal positions and also in the implementation of some penalties, while the major dispute is in the procedure of choosing the justice men themselves.
The (shriah) judiciary in family courts may be the role model which was intended to follow in all the other branches of law. Putting Quran verses and prophetic words in the preamble and the causes of any provisions is certainly a likable Islamic act even if the direct link between the religious text and the case is weak or missing. This simple act is the guarantor of giving an Islamic acceptable theme to the Islamic state judiciary.
Taking in consideration two important factors; First, Modern Islamic doctrine thinkers didn’t deal with the majority of the sections and the branches of modern law in an institutional work. Also, most of what was written about modern law and its compatibility with Islam was not written based on the Islamic modernization necessary perspectives of the purpose doctrine (fekeh al-makased) or the favorable doctrine (fekeh al-estehsan), but was written as re-production of the famous four Imams’ fekeh, which does not give these writings real applied value. Second, After reviewing and indexing for documents and daily life paperwork of the Caliphates history from Umayyad till Ottomans by scholars it has been proven that the real implementation of the archive of Islamic judiciary, who were considered guards of Shariah, has been applied only on a minimalistic. Most probably what had reached us from there feats and inspirational stories wasn’t but their vision for the ideal Islamic community as it is ought to be, not as it is in the majority of ruled areas and time periods under the different Caliphates.
From the aforementioned points, there is no fundamental conflict between the Islamic idea and the Egyptian judicial system mechanisms and work routines. All additions and improvements that may be needed by an Islamic regime can easily be achieved and adopted by the current or similarly educated judges. However, commissioning of the new generations of justice men is where the dangerous conflict is. Judges among other few categories in Egypt, are instituting and legalizing the bequeathing of the profession. Some judicial families are deployed in the Egyptian courts and prosecutors for three generations. This situation was not fought by the Brotherhood as a massive act of corruption, but it coveted the privilege and wanted to inherit the monopoly of new judges’ hiring to members and supporters, as we can see in the dominant percentage of brotherhood supporters from upper Egypt law schools among the only prosecutors hiring event in Morsi’s year in power.
The civil society
Egyptian civil society would have formed an obstacle against the Brotherhood extended ruling in several aspects; First, it was a vigilance eye monitoring and documenting any possible rigging of elections or any unconstitutional monopoly of power or any incline of the legal path in general. Second, the civil society, including its different roots, liberal or leftist, is considered to the brotherhood as a source of the western values. These civil society thoughts are contradicting, competing and confronting with the upbringing and attraction systems that are adopted by the Islamic current in general and by the brotherhood specifically. Moreover, civil society and activists are widening freedoms limit by discussing topics like equality, homosexual rights, kids’ rights and women rights. While some discussions are on the intellectual and legal level as homosexual and kids’ rights, other discussions provoke the mainstream traditional Islamic masculine society in Egypt as in the women rights topic. With these open discussions over all bills of rights, the civil society constitutes an adversary that is inevitably must be fully repressed by any Islamic system in power, so its ideas wont spread and contradict with the Islamic civil society system which believes in a totally different vision for the civil society role based on charity, righteousness, takaful, donations and human development. Islamic ideal civil society should have no effect or interference on the political scene and it should be limited to upbringing of new generations of the Islamic project.
Finally, the civil society international relations on both the individual and organizational levels is considered a strong motivation for the brotherhood authorities to decrease the limits of the existent civil society and activists in order to create new formulas for relations between the authority and the civil society, that is based on cooperation and understanding and mutual benefits rather than collision. These cooperation policies would have taken place as a transaction until the full control by on the state armed power. Later on, complete replacement would have taken place.
The Islamic current generally and the Muslim Brotherhood specifically, are activated in the public sphere through their representatives and supporters among professionals. Loyalists to the Islamic general values have created the predominant argument against the state supporters and the anti-Islamic crowd for years in Egyptian society. However, the success of the Islamic current supporters on exercising the top power authorities has never reached the same success. They don’t have any of the tools of success required in the top authorities or its experiences or its bureaucratic accumulations which the state has. It didn’t and won’t ever help the brotherhood to implement the obedience principle on a complete population. Nations are not to be ruled without any debate as religious groups.
Muslim brotherhood failure in creating a doable system for constructive communication with their opposition and among the neutrals of the ordinary Egyptians has pushed them quickly to adopt a defensive mechanism position. It started by their successive attempts to highlight the public support they have in order to scare their opponents rather than to improve and build on the primary backing they had received. Hence, this support was collapsing day by day as a consequence of losing infinite daily public debates.
Muslim brotherhood chooses to defend Islam from what they consider as foreign (national and international) attacks, rather than to choose to work to implement it organically in a state that they actually were ruling. Clearing the medieval dust off Islamic interpretations and doctrines was supposed to be the first priority, not fueling the strife with the local liberals, seculars and leftists.
Muslim brotherhood didn’t took advantage of the weakness and relative emptiness of the Egyptian public sphere that was leftover after decades of monopolization of the political sphere by a corrupted authority and its beneficiaries. I claim that the brotherhood was one of the most harmed victims of the structural corruption and the general recession that hit all Egyptian human spectrum in Mubarak era. However, being a pro to the brotherhood or being an enemy will not change the fact that the Muslim brotherhood is a main player in the political Islam, which proved in the post-Arab spring years that it has got real popularity and continuous support across the region.
(Posted in Arabic in 13/9/2014)