The Ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in the Parliament is Rapidly Shaping the Egyptian Society
The ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in the parliament is rapidly shaping the Egyptian Society
A friend, who lives in Alexandria, expressed her worries about the Salafi’s intrusion in her neighborhood of Rouchdy. Pharmacies in Egypt, unlike in the United States, allow pharmacists to inject patients with necessary medication if asked. Salafis pharmacists now refused to inject insulin to diabetic women. During the month of Ramadan, Salafi physicians left patients in the emergency room for two hours to perform the Taraweeh prayer (special long prayer after breaking the fast in Ramadan) in the mosque.
Recently, a Salafi representative had interrupted the Parliament session with the call for prayer (Azan). Another Salafi sheikh advised universities students to marry four wives. Some Salfis are advocating restricting women rights from car driving to asking for repeal (Khol`)a marriage annulment law passed 10 years ago that gave women the right to initiate divorce or decriminalizing statutory rape if there was no active resistance. There was talk to reinstate the law of (Beit El Taa) House of submission, where a husband gets a court order to take his “disobedient (Nashez) wife into Beit El Taa.
For thirty years, Hosni Mubarak used the police institution as a mean to quell, torture, and humiliate the Egyptian people. The police took unethical measures against opposition like spying, rigging elections, hiring witnesses, and false imprisonment. Before and during the revolution the same police force committed atrocities against demonstrators; rape, snipers with live ammunition aiming at young revolutionaries’ eyes.
One of the revolution goals was to restore the police institution to its intended function protecting and respecting people’s rights. Sadly, the Military Council (SCAF) who is holding the Presidential powers, resisted reformation of the Internal Security Ministry responsible for police.
In a more bizarre turn of events, as many as 150 officers grew beards as a common sign of Islamic piety. A religious belief practiced by many Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood members in disregard to the military rule of conduct. The problem is not growing or not growing their beard, because the same officers stood silent or maybe joined in the torture orgies in the police stations, in Tahrir Square, and in the massacre of Port Said Stadium. No one heard them object or protect civilians.
Now suddenly the same police officers grew their beard to announce their holly fight, as if religious devotion is represented by facial hair and not by the substance of a person.
Mosques are everywhere in Egypt, and always crowded with prayers. They rush to perform their religious duty whether inside the mosque or in the streets. The question is could this devotion reflect people’s attitude in their everyday lives? The answer is, No. Most Egyptians follow their religious duties with conviction and devotion, but they don’t give the same devotion and respect to ethics in their everyday life.
When some individuals separate beliefs from attitudes, the inner core from the outward appearance, we judge them as hypocrites, but if this behavior is endemic in a society, then we need to analyze it further. People with such conflicts are not really hypocrites, but simple people who practiced religion the way they knew how. Egyptians follow their religious obligations like prayers, fasting and Alms but ethic is a word they all claim to follow, yet they don’t apply it in their everyday life.
Islam in Egypt has always been balanced and tolerant. What we have now is the Wahabi intolerant version of Islam. It was imported from Saudi Arabia.
For thirty years the oil money drowned Egypt with extremists Wahabi ideologies with political agenda. The ruling Saudis rely heavily on the alliance with the Wahabi clergymen. Hence the political system is stable in the Gulf countries. In the mean time, millions of Egyptians migrated to the Gulf States seeking work and returned home saturated with Wahabi ideology. In this society, Egyptians did not see mingling between men and women. However, statuary rape, pedophiles and sexual crimes in the Gulf and KSA are some of the highest in the world. Alcohol consumption prohibited, as well, to the masses. Yet, many in the Gulf drink in secrecy. Kings do not need to abide by the rules of law, and no one dares to prosecute them for any crime they commit.
Egyptians learned, in the gulf, that praying is not by choice, but mandatory. If a person refrains from praying, he or she would face punishment. They, also, learned that a woman walking in the street next to her husband would be reminded with a stick by vice police, if her hair is not covered properly. In spite of open show of religious devotion, most of the Egyptians workers in the Gulf have no rights in the court of law. Natives are favored and never found guilty. Here we see clearly the division between open exposition of religion and ethics. We can conclude that it is a social disease brought to Egypt from the Gulf, and has spread like a virus outbreak infecting the population, and the political Islamic group in Egypt.
When the Revolution of January 25th erupted in Egypt, none of the Islamic Groups participated. When the police retreated and left the country unprotected. However, to be fair, the Muslim Brotherhood moved in and joined the demonstrators in Tahrir square to protect them from the attack of Camels where many demonstrators were attacked by swords and guns. Now, we know, their move was a show to win the trust of voters. The Salafis on the other hand, stood against the revolution. They claimed that to revolt, and demand democracy, is against Sharia. Obedience to the ruler, even if he is a dictator, is a sacred order from God, they stated.
When the revolution succeeded in throwing Mubarak out of office, the Salfis changed their ideology and quickly formed parties and joined the democracy, which they once, claimed to be against Sharia.
Then MB and Salafis struck a deal with the military council (SCAF). SCAF will help them win majority in the parliament and they in turn would allow SCAF to run the country form behind the scene. The military council rigged the election to favor MB and Salafis allowing a religion based parties, which the law prohibits, to set a constitutional amendments committee chaired and staffed by MB experts.
Here we found ourselves facing phenomena, the same extremists who would not miss a prayer, and get furious when they see a woman in tight clothes, are the same extremists who took advantage of the poor and needy; they donated meat, sugar and oil to win their vote.
At the end, the MB and Salafis victory in the parliament may not have been rigged. But, surely, was not ethical or fair. The Egyptian people accepted the voting results believing they would have a new parliament that could trust to protect the revolution and fulfill its goals. Unfortunately, they discovered that the parliament is crippled and unable to face the Military Council’s redlines.
The parliament became nothing than a podium for empty speeches. Some Salafis refused to swear in favor of the constitution unless the word “Sharia” is included. While the police is killing and maiming young revolutionaries in the street, a Salafi member interrupted the parliament session with a call for prayer (Azan) triggering another day of argument as to whether it is right to call for prayer during parliamentary sessions. Consequently, the Parliament discussed side issues that have little to do with the country’s priorities.
Fasten your seatbelts; Islamists have become a potent force in Egypt. The Revolution has not began yet.