Egyptians in Sinai, you are not alone

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

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I am not trying to pick on the Muslim Brotherhood’s former supreme guide Mahdi Akef, but I am quoting him because his statements are the most honest amongst those of other group members. His bluntness and sometimes his impatience drive him to say what he feels without beating around the push. You can almost hear him saying, “This is how we are. These are our ideas and our plans and to hell with whoever does not like them.” This is what most his statements, which are the most representative of the group, imply even though he does not say this in so many words. In this context, I would like to stop at his last statement about the residents of Sinai and which he described as “Bedouin.” Regardless of the negative or positive connotations of the term, I have always believed that if we are going to refer to a group of citizens with their geographical location, we need first to mention their nationality so that they become Egyptians from Sinai, Egyptian Christians, Egyptian Nubians, and so on. First and foremost, they are Egyptians. That is why I have always has reservations about labeling residents of Sinai “Bedouin.”

Now back to the alarming statement that reflects the Muslim Brotherhood’s stance on Sinai. He said, “Sinai does not have Jihadists only. I visited Sinai and I know from reliable sources that the Sinai Bedouin are divided into categories: one with the Mossad, a second with the intelligence, and a third with national security. They are all fighting and they are the reason for the turmoil there.” This is how he summarized his and his group’s view of the Sinai people, with the exception of course of Muslim Brothers there. I call upon our people in Sinai not to feel indignant or think they are the only ones targeted by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Justified fury

This is how the Brotherhood sees people outside or belonging to groups that are not allied to it. That is why it is understandable when some leaders from Sinai threaten to kill the former supreme guide if he does not apologize for his derogatory statements, they reflect the state of justified fury that prevails among them, but this is not the solution to the problem. What he said is part of their ideology and which is based on looking down upon whoever is not one of them. That is why we are all in the same place. An apology will not change anything for it will not change this ideology and because he is not the only one who thinks that way.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is used to underground activities and assassinations, cannot rule the country while rejecting its culture and borders and considering it only a part of a bigger project.

Abdel Latif al-Menawy

The real problem lies in the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrogant attitude towards the rest of the Egyptian people be they Muslims, Christians, Upper Egyptians, residents of coastal areas… etc. According to them, none of those belongs to that superior group that monopolizes faith in a way that reminds us of the authority of the church in the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages of Europe, or the Second World War when the alleged supremacy of the Aryan race ignited a war that took the lives of millions of people.

For the new rulers, belonging transcends national boundaries to encompass their own perceived nation. Let me remind you of what the current Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Leader Mohamed Badei said to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya when he received him in Egypt last year: “I wish you were the prime minister of Egypt.” This is not really different from another proclamation by the former supreme guide, whose controversial statements we are addressing here, when he said he does not mind if the Egyptian president is Malaysian or any other non-Egyptian Muslim. The current supreme guide, however, said something more dangerous when he promised Haneya to give Hamas leaders the Egyptian nationality. He was also reported to have said that Hamas members will be allowed to settle in Sinai, yet the Brotherhood denied this later. Even if I believe they did not say this, I and many others are still suspicious about their intentions and those suspicions are valid and based on evidence and signs.

Ideological deviances

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood need to rethink their ideological deviances, as far as the concept of the homeland is concerned. They need to depart from ideas they regard as “constants” and which date back to the time of their alleged “martyrs.” They are now in power and this in itself necessitates a revision of all their previous stances.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is used to underground activities, intrigues, and assassinations, cannot rule the country while rejecting its culture and borders and considering it only a part of a bigger project. They cannot consider all the people, with the exception of their members, a group of outlaws. They need to know that they are not God’s “chosen people” and that those people out there are the Egyptians who have lived in this country for thousands of years and who absorbed all sorts of cultures, rulers, religions, and occupying powers. Everything goes and only the people and the homeland remain.

To our people in Sinai: we are all together in this and sanctioning the bloodshed of one leader or another will not change much of the reality. Egyptians, be patient!

Abdel Latif al-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

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