A tough battle waged by Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to have ended on Saturday evening as he scrapped a constitutional decree which the opposition said gave him Pharaoh-like powers. The battle has not fully ended, but it seems the opposition has lost its momentum and would only call for a boycott of the constitution.
It is better for the Brotherhood not to wave victory flags now, as they have emerged from their battle with harsh wounds, the most severe being an accusation that they divided the people, and that the president is no longer the president of “all the people.” Did the constitutional amendments, announced by Mursi two weeks ago, deserve the high costs paid?
We must understand the mentality of the Muslim Brotherhood to answer this question.
Mursi seemed to be troubled throughout the last few days, after issuing the constitutional statements that turned him into a “Pharaoh” as said his antagonists who incited one of the Egyptian communities against him. They seemed as if they were ready and waiting for someone to provoke and push them towards the aggravation of the situation, burning and stoning the police and all those who are against them, and even more, they would destroy all fences, attack the president, stab and kill him amid his family.
This angry and unnatural scene, which has nothing to do with democratic transformation in Egypt, can be used to understand the Brotherhood’s “mind frame.” What are the causes that led President Mursi to take these decisions without consulting his advisers, or even his deputy? He called the Brotherhood to be on alert; it is the conspiracy obsession that the Muslim Brothers are currently living.
Regardless of the political opposition elites, these concerns are rejected with grounds and evidence, or denied in politics and religion. They can even disregard them in order to underestimate the Brotherhood, but these concerns are strongly present within the Muslim Brotherhood, and they constitute the main point for their decisions and reactions.
Their preachers are ready to delightfully explain on the podium, how the “malicious” calls were God Almighty’s way to test the faithful, and their political leaders will explain how did the Brotherhood’s enemies conspire against them repeatedly, so they obstructed them, stole their victories, and delayed their owed triumph.
The preachers would starts from the “Fayed Conference” in Ismailia - the Suez Canal, then move to the persecutions of the late President Abed al-Nasser against them. The dramatic details of these persecutions are now strongly inserted to their political heritage that is taught to their youth, to an extent that it formed their own logic and mind that we have witnessed during their rally around the Federation Palace (Kasr al-Ittihadiya) last Wednesday, to protect their president Mohamed Mursi, who led them to power after an 80-year-old's patience: they were well organized, they distributed the roles to oust the antagonists who wanted to protest there, call to overthrow the regime and attack the president with the harshest slogans. From the Brotherhood’s point of view, that was a part of the “conspiracy” as they considered that the protests were not spontaneous, but rather part of a scheme “drawn at night” as the president said in his speech last Thursday evening, where he made some concessions but at the time, he insisted on his position not to retract neither his constitutional statements before a dialogue that was supposed to take place on Saturday, nor the date of the referendum on the constitution.
The “Night Conspiracy” was aiming that those opponents who were sitting in their tents around the palace, were the forefront that will be endorsed later on, to attack the palace and expel the President, or arrest him in an insulting way which will lead to his collapse and then his legitimacy’s failure. This is why it became necessary for the Muslim Brotherhood to show off their power, send their message and keep those protesters away, and this is what actually happened.
It may be a real and planned “conspiracy,” and according to the president and his supporters, as a result of secret meetings, money, external interventions and old regime’s extensions, this may just be a spontaneous and honest anger. The report regarding that issue is not important, what is important is that the Muslim Brotherhood believes that there is a conspiracy that is led against them, and that their duty is to stop it, even if they paid a high price for it, subsequently six of their followers have died and dozens of their quarters were burnt.
The media ignored this conspiracy and showed that the Brotherhood were the aggressors, they even shed light on the celebrations that were done after the premises were burnt. The reluctance of denouncing the violence by the elites, has boosted the Brotherhood’s concerns regarding this enormous “conspiracy” against them, involving the remnants of the old regime, and the liberal and foreign powers against them.
It is the same “Fayed conspiracy”, where the ambassadors of Britain, which was occupying Egypt at the time, France and the United States, met in that city that is overlooking the Suez Canal on November 10th 1948, and agreed on the need to terminate the brotherhood. This is what happened later on through the decision of Prime Minister Mohamed Fahmi Nuqrashi, who was later assassinated by the Brotherhood’s secret organization, whose founder Hassan al-Banna was subsequently assassinated too. Back then, the Brotherhood went into their first ordeal, which completely ended with their victorious revolution on July 23, after four years.
After the revolution, the Brotherhood felt that the time was theirs, and that the victory approached; they are partners in the free officers’ revolution, they were active and spread to stand against Abed al-Nasser in the democracy battle in 1954. Abed al-Nasser then attacked them in their second and hardest ordeal that molded their collective obsessive minds, as it has also strengthened their teamwork, dedication, obedience and patience.
During both ordeals, the Brotherhood was subject to verbal and physical violence, premises burnings and distortion by the King’s government and then by the revolution’s government; in both cases, the “liberal” media and political elites including the opposition, have participated in the conspiracy and assault as seen by the Brotherhood and as it is happening now.
The Brotherhood was convinced that there is a cycle that is waiting for them and they should be vigilant, and the stronger they were strong, the closer to victory they become, and what they mean by victory here is to reach a verdict for the implementation of their great renaissance project. The foreign powers that will fight against Islam, will conspire against them (and I am speaking here with the Brotherhood language and logic), stop their project, drain their best minds and men, arrest their youth and overthrow their calls.
It is most likely that the Brotherhood has reached this conviction on Nov. 22, when President Mursi surprised the Egyptian people with a set of constitutional statements, where he discharged the Attorney-General, and took in charge the majority of the authorities, and immunized his decisions against any judicial intervention.
The organization was certainly informed and prepared for those decisions, and it was aware that it will generate anger, but decided that the “conspiracy” they have known and were convinced about, is worth the risk. They have reached power this time and they will not abandon it, especially that the opposition did not fail to provide the conspiracy evidence they needed, starting with the surprising collective withdrawals of the Constituent Assembly that was entrusted with the constitution drafting, the political escalation against them by the opposition, the fierce campaign by the local media accompanied by a similar campaign by Arab newspapers and channels, enhanced by the recordings provided by the Egyptian security services, which is now working for the President or the Brotherhood ... What's the difference anyway?
If the investigations of the prosecution, which is tackling the “conspiracy” issue according to the president, were true, we will witness another trial that will further complicate the situation in Egypt, but if the opposition succeeded in toppling the President as it is pledging, then the trial won’t take place because the trial’s file will burn to ashes in the fire that will spread in Egypt and take it back to its square one.
(Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi columnist for Al-Hayat newspaper, where this article was published on Dec. 8, 2012)