It seems every day there is news of confirmed supporters fleeing the sinking ship that is Muslim Brotherhood. Here’s yet another defection, from Al-Arabiya:
A firebrand Egyptian cleric and television preacher has denounced the Muslim Brotherhood after his arrest on Wednesday near the Libyan border.
Safwat el-Hegazy told investigators that he was not part of the Muslim Brotherhood and that if he could go back in time he would have never supported them, a security source said.
“It’s not because they are terrorists and encourage blood shedding, but it is because they don’t work well and cannot do anything right,” Hegazy was quoted as saying.
Hegazy who is wanted over charges of instigating violence was captured early Wednesday at a checkpoint near the Siwa Oasis, near Libya. He reportedly tried to flee the country across the Libyan border.
Dr Kemal Helbawy was a prominent Muslim Brotherhood operative, who for decades served as the their representative to the UK. Following the revolution he returned to live in Egypt in 2011. Helbawy is not known to be a moderate nor a lover of Jews. But recently he has had some serious misgivings about the Morsi government which he was keen to air publicly in an interview with Roshan Muhammed Salih. Here are some very surprising comments by Helbawy on the recent Egyptian coup/regime change/popular uprising, call it what you will, and the reasons behind them.
RMS: What is your reaction to the recent miltary coup?
KH: It wasn’t a military coup, it was the greatest democratic event in our history. There were millions of people on the streets and the military simply responded to their desire to do away with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government which had failed the country.
Take a look at this 12 year old Egyptian boy, Ali Ahmed, and marvel how he puts Western supporters of the toppled Morsi government to shame. He has understood the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood better than your average Western pro-Islamist “liberal”.
Calling the Brotherhood fascists, Ali gushes forth a stream of consciousness on Morsi’s litany of failures on women’s rights, social and economic inequalities and the Egyptian constitution.
You have to wonder at the cognitive dissonace of Western supporters of Morsi’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood government. Chances are they have never lived in totalitarian Islamist state in a Muslim-majority country. Though they have grown fat on the freedoms and privileges the West offers them, they loathe the idea that those same freedoms should be enjoyed by, say, the people of Egypt.
Let’s see the clowns try and label this young chap an “Islamophobe” and “pro-Western stooge”.
The title of an article by Hazeem Kandil on the LRB blog is “The End of Islamism” trailing with a threatening question mark. He makes some solid points to justify the motivation behind the military coup but whether the toppling of Morsi marks the death knell for Islamist politics is doubtful.
Certainly, the Brothers’ dismal performance in power brought about their downfall, rather than some elaborate debate on the legitimacy of Islamism. There was nothing Islamic about the movement’s policies. On the contrary, the moral image they projected was quickly comprised by the shabby deals they tried (and failed) to strike with old regime institutions, and foreign powers they had previously condemned. Once in power, Morsi praised the Interior Ministry so highly that he even claimed this most patriotic of institutions had been an essential partner in the 2011 revolt; and his aides spared no effort in imploring America to save his presidency. Egyptians became rapidly disillusioned with Islamist incompetence, paranoia, double-dealing and, above all, profound arrogance towards people they regarded as less religious than them.
It took them more than 70 years of protracted “grassroots activism” to get into power in Egypt and less than one year for the Muslim Brotherhood to be ousted by the very same “grassroots” they sought to govern.
Graffiti near Tahrir Square
In the final analysis, it was Mohamed Morsi’s own inability to compromise and his party’s inherent authoritarian nature that failed the Brotherhood. Or as an Egyptian put it:
“Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak all tried to rid Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the end it was Morsi who succeeded”
What Egyptians have shown is what they, in their hearts, already knew: that Sharia Law alone is not enough for good governance and Islamists make for worthless administrators. Morsi won an election but he failed to build on the democracy that put him into power. Islamism is not “representative” of the Arab Street nor the Greater Muslim World and it certainly is not “indigenous” to it, as has become popular thinking in some sections of the Liberal Left.
On the BBC Radio 4 show ‘Hecklers’, Gita Sahgal takes on the combined force of the Islamists Tahmina Saleem (Islamic Society Britain), Tariq Ramadan (freelance Islamist), Nazir Ahmed (House of Lords), Moazzam Begg (Cage Prisoners) and Daud Abdullah (Muslim Council of Britain)
i must start by declaring an interest here, not only as someone who supports a fair and equitable end to the arab-israeli conflict in which israel’s future is secured and a wider lasting peace in the middle east for all its peoples, but also as someone many of whose ancestors came from mosul and kirkuk in kurdistan. i have met many talented kurds and they have invariably been the sort of people who i could get along with and do business with; reasonable, rational and sensitive to the realities of history and politics.
for all these reasons, the issue of kurdistan has been close to my heart for a number of years; it felt very much to me as if it was a pipe-dream, given the geopolitical status quo. the basics are this:
The unexpected victory of the Salafists in the Egypt and Tunisia elections has caught many by surprise, not least the Muslim Brotherhood who once thought that they would clean up, but now are faced with the prospect of having to share power with a segment they regarded as marginal. The rise of the Salafists is seen by some as the authentic reaction to the repression of Islamic practice by secular Arab despots. The Salafists regard the first century of Islamic history as the perfected state for humanity, and now they see themselves as the real inheritors of the voice of the repressed Muslim majority. Their stake has been under-reported because attention has always been directed on the Muslim Brotherhood as the stakeholders of the Islamist vote.
The rise of the Salafists is arguably the most alarming dynamic unleashed by the Egyptian revolution.
Eric Pickles, the Conservative UK secretary of state, has plans to build a “curry college” to train unemployed British youth to cook pakora, the samosa and the chicken biriyani to replace cooks formerly hired from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
While this is a good initiative for the British workforce, let’s hope it doesn’t turn into this:
The new “curry college” initiative is bound to generate hilarity. No scheme which Pickles leads will fail to engender a good deal of good humoured ribaldry, but there is a serious side to these plans.
In addition to the jobs angle, this initiative also has some worthwhile and far reaching motives for the increasing integration. So instead of the New Labour language of “promoting local community cohesion” will be simpler and tighter ideas like “promoting integration” and increasing “tolerance” as the new watchwords.