What hurts Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood the most is not the army, nor the al-Azhar institution, nor the 22 million Egyptians who allegedly supported toppling president Mohammed Mursi.
What hurts them the most is that the Salafists stood against them and sat among the audience that was cheering Mursi’s ouster and interim President Adli Mansour’s ascent to power. What really hurts them is that the Salafists, until this day, continue to religiously and politically confront them in the media.
The most important lesson learnt from toppling Mursi is that there isn’t a single party that dominates in Egypt, and that hiding behind religion isn’t a guarantee to quash people’s anger and their revolutions. It’s become clear that no matter how long their beards are and no matter how much they make accusations of infidelity, the Brotherhood does not own the Egyptians. It’s also become clear that the army does not dare sack an elected president without the support of a strong majority.
Having a say in Egypt’s rule
It’s turned out that the Egyptians, as parties and individuals, cannot be categorized as religious and infidels. Proof to that is the Salafists’ move to abandon the Brotherhood and join the oppositional Tamarod (rebellion) campaign and the National Salvation Front. A year after all their attempts to dominate, the Brotherhood found out that they failed because they refused the political participation of others.
The Brotherhood, the Salafist al-Nour party, the National Salvation Front, the Strong Egypt Party, the al-Wasat Party, the April 6 movement, the Tamarod campaign and dozens of other movements and parties have important stock in the political market which makes them a partner in Egypt’s governance, if not in the cabinet.
When looking at the Salafist Al-Nur Party, who would’ve believed that the Salafists in Egypt have a voice and are a group capable of political work?
It’s become clear that no matter how long their beards are and no matter how much they make accusations of infidelity, the Brotherhood does not own the Egyptians.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Their capability to work, maneuver, develop their rhetoric and pragmatically mingle was the Egyptian arena’s surprise. I advise those who have not read their statement to read it. It’s a witty defense against Brotherhood accusations that they failed Mursi by siding with those who staged the coup.
The Salafist statement says they agreed with the Brotherhood Guide’s office not to take to the streets on June 28. The agreement was according to their vision that “it is impossible that the army will abandon Dr. Mursi.”
“We believed that it’s impossible [for Mursi] to give up [the presidency] but that it’s possible that the army will be biased towards the protesters if their numbers increase to a certain extent. This is what happened. Protesters at Rabaa al-Adawiyah had no role until the July 3 declaration was made,” the Salafists’ statement added.
The Salafists also noticed how the Brotherhood manipulated their followers’ minds, accused them of vetoing the Bay’ah (oath of allegiance) - in its religious context - claimed that elections is an act tantamount to Bay’ah and described their opponents as seculars and Christians.
In their published statement, the Salafists said if Mursi considers elections to be the same as Bay’ah, then this means he must commit to the constitution. The constitution here allows protests and prohibits confronting those who took to the streets and protested against Mursi.
The Salafists also voiced surprise that the Brotherhood is criticizing them for sitting with seculars and Christians at a time when Brotherhood members themselves brag that there are seculars and Christians with them at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiyah.
Of course, such discussions are only fit for those engaged in religious political controversies. The general public wants stability, jobs and better livelihood conditions - something that cannot be achieved through the ruling party’s elimination of other political parties which participated with it in the revolution and which participated with it in the election and course of political life.
Mursi’s sad ending of being ousted and detained came amid celebrations from all other political parties. The streets across Egypt were packed with millions of people cheering for Mursi’s and his cabinet’s ouster.
Recent events have shown that there isn’t a single party, be it the army, the religious, the liberals or the youths, that can alone mobilize the people during this phase. During Hosni Mubarak’s era, the Brotherhood claimed that more than 60 percent of the people supported them. After the revolution, they won with a weak majority after leftist and Nasserist parties voted for them. A year after their failed governance, it’s impossible for the Brotherhood to garner what they attained a year ago.
The ouster of an elected president and the dangerous disturbance of the regime is not only a painful lesson to the Brotherhood but a painful lesson to all political parties. Respecting state institutions and the constitution serves both: the governor and those governed. When Mursi and the Brotherhood shaped the original constitution and insulted the judiciary, the people and the army surprised them by taking over governance.
Now after their ordeal, they will be convinced of their need of a constitution that respects the rights of the people as well as the rights of the president. They will be convinced that they are paying the price for their stupidity of not respecting the legitimacy that brought them to power.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 22, 2013.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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