The Muslim Brotherhood makes sparks fly

Bassem Youssef
Bassem Youssef
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Just as they had been once before, voices calling for the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood are on the rise, in the wake of recent events. Aside from the consequences of that battle, I think the word “banned” doesn’t do the Brotherhood justice. I think it is better that we deem the Brotherhood “jinxed.” Their jinx doesn’t stop at them; it extends to everyone who deals with them – even those who aren’t with them.

Look at all the “jinxes” that have befallen anyone who tries to be rational and logical in dealing with the Brotherhood. Accusations of espionage and treason have been thrown at everyone who has tried to deal with the situation peacefully, far from the calls for “beating and slamming.”

This jinx has stuck with everyone who has tried to defend you [the Brotherhood] when you were a banned group, and with everyone who tried to meet you half-way when you were in power. The curse of this jinx has extended to everyone who tried to reach a peaceful solution with you after you were ousted from power.

This jinx has reached people like ElBaradei, Hamzawy, Belal Fadl and many other political and rights activists.

You must well remember how your media flexed their muscles, while defaming many of us with accusations of heresy, espionage, treason, shady funding and homosexuality. With your fall, we should have gloated and celebrated the collapse of those who defamed our honour and reputation: but we did not. Rather, many of these people continue to suffer smear campaigns that use the same discourse your media used, after being exported to the private media and Facebook pages that oppose you. Hence, anyone who deals with you is doomed from all angles. Didn’t I tell you that you are “jinxed”?

But forget about the media and the extremist Facebook pages; let’s look at how the average person thinks.

I conducted a little experiment where I talked to many of those who voted for you whether in parliamentary or presidential elections. I have never witnessed such hatred and repulsion vis-à-vis a political party as I did within this experiment. I discovered that even those who have reservations about June 30, those who hate the Ministry of Interior (MOI) as well as the SCAF, have reservations. Those reservations stem from the mismanagement of the political situation, and from their hatred towards the Mubarak regime, its media and their fear of its return. But when I asked even the most sympathetic none demanded the return of Mursi. Even most of those who call what happened a coup do not call for Mursi’s reinstatement. They instead use words like “reconciliation,” “co-existence” and “political participation” out of fear of the return of the days of the 1990s: not out of support for your [the Brotherhood’s] stance.

I am not asking the Brotherhood to learn from history, and the fact that the society has discharged them more than once because of their stupidity. For you have proven that you do not like, nor learn from, history. But I do ask you to learn from what has happened over the last two years.

Bassem Youssef

Even the calls of those “idealists” for your return to the political life are shattered by what happens on a daily basis on the stage in Rabaa; the blocking of roads; and terrorizing of people in their own homes. So much so, that the average person is left asking: “Who are these people we’re talking about returning and participating in government? Those who don’t mind replicating the Syrian scenario? Those who don’t hesitate to threaten setting the country on fire unless their demands are met? Those who see nothing wrong in resorting to foreigners, but rather cheer when they hear some fantasy news on the stage [in Rabaa] about American boats moving towards our coasts? Those who use women and children as human shields, and are not embarrassed to present their children in funeral garbs in a cheap theatrical performance?”

We all know that a person’s resolve/character is most tested at times of difficulty, and you have provided the worst example for dealing with the bleakest of moments. The “simple citizen” looks at you and wonders: “Can you imagine what they would do to the country if they resume power?”

The simple citizen, who has always been looked down upon by those who accused him of selling out for some sugar and oil, has seen nothing of your Nahda [Renaissance] Project. He now sees you inciting violence and using hate speech on the stage [in Rabaa]; he sees the terrorist attacks on Sinai and the attacks on churches in Minya, Suhag and Assiut. He sees all of this and you want to resume power? This citizen no longer believes your empty mantra of: “We bring prosperity to Egypt.” What prosperity do you speak of, when you are inciting discord, hatred and destruction?

When I try to convince the simple citizen that we should deal with the sit-in quickly and calmly he, who is neither a political expert nor a journalist, tells me: “Sir, these are people who neither want to negotiate nor reconcile. They want to twist this country’s arm. The government is calling on them to sit and dialogue, but they are hiding behind their women. They are looking for trouble, a funeral they can use to trade in politics, and thus play the victim.”

Yes: I swear this was a conversation with the supermarket employee who voted for the Brotherhood in parliament and for Mursi as president.

How did support turn into hatred and distrust in less than a year? Didn’t I tell you it was jinxed?

Sympathy is lost

Yes, the State needs to fulfil its duty towards the Brotherhood in investigating what happened at the Republican Guard and at Al Manassa. But you have not even used that right to your advantage; your trading in blood, your lying, and fabricating of images using photos from Syria, has lost you so much sympathy that was rightfully yours.

A side question: Why are your pages filled with photos of massacres in Syria? Has lying become part and parcel of your being?

Many people have stopped caring about you and what happens to you, and when people ignored your sit-in you weren’t satisfied with staying peacefully in Rabaa: you began provoking people in marches and other sit-ins. You besieged the Media Production City, and it has extended to you raising the Al-Qaeda flag on churches. Yes: this definitely screams national unity.

To many people you have become a nightmare that weighs heavy on their chests; they wish to wake up and find you gone. It doesn’t matter [to them] whether you leave willingly, or by force: so long as you’re gone. And there still remain those who try to talk sense, and defend you, to find themselves chased by the curse of the people: because of your continued jinx.

Learn from the revolutionary years

I am not asking the Brotherhood to learn from history, and the fact that the society has discharged them more than once because of their stupidity. For you have proven that you do not like, nor learn from, history. But I do ask you to learn from what has happened over the last two years. When people tried to close Tahrir Square in the name of the revolution, called for civil disobedience, criticized the Ministry of Interior and the SCAF, you stood against them. You supported the SCAF and the police; you condemned the sit-ins and the attacks on the state institutions; you launched the “I’ll work instead” campaign to counter civil disobedience; and you called for a violent reaction to the blocking of the roads.

People can see your contradictions and they know that you are only after the Brotherhood’s and its leaders’ interest and not that of the country. People can see that you don’t care about Egypt going up in flames for the sake of your survival. Your opportunism, lying and abuse may have done you well during the elections; but they are now a weapon used against you, for you no longer have your political gains, nor the respect of the people. What kind of a jinx is this?

People now see you for who you really are. Even those who hate the MOI and the SCAF the most know that you are waiting for a massive disaster to waste lives and shed blood. And we all know that your leaders will cheer and dance at the fall of your victims. For he who treats religion as a trade will not be ashamed to make a craft out of blood.

Pardon, this is not a jinx; it is – God forbid – the wrath of our Lord, far from you.

NOTE: After writing this article, I watched a video on YouTube of Sh. Mahmoud Shaaban being taken to Tahrir Square, and being kept there for some time. It is said he was in a car passing by Tahrir Square, when his car was stopped and he was taken.

I don’t care what this man did to incite violence, or about his abnormal religious verdicts (fatwas); what happened is despicable, and is not in any way humane or ethical. Had this happened to any journalist or media personality in Rabaa, the skies would have crumbled upon the Earth. On what grounds does a citizen give himself the right to intercept another citizen’s way, and then keep him till he hands him over to the police? What is this nonsense? What happened was wrong and it does Tahrir Square injustice. Speaking of Tahrir Square, since Rabaa is the talk of the town: why is Tahrir Square closed till now? Why, when those conducting a sit-in in Tahrir are estimated to be a mere few scores of people, would downtown Cairo be shut down & Garden City’s Corniche road turned into a two-way street, multiplying the torture inflicted upon citizens? I do not know why there are still concrete walls all around downtown; and I can see no justification to the continued torturing of citizens [in traffic], for the extension of the sit-in, or the reason behind it. And if the reason behind it is to keep the Mursi supporters from taking Tahrir Square, I think sensibly allocated security forces around the square could keep them from taking it.

I could be wrong, but if the situation continues it will vex those living downtown, just as it’s currently vexing those living in Rabaa; but perhaps differently.This article was first published in al-Shorouk newspaper in Egypt on July 16, 2013 and was translated by Tahrir Squared.

Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian doctor, satirist, and the host of El Bernameg (“The Program”), a satirical news program broadcast by a private Egyptian television station. The press has compared Youssef with American comedian Jon Stewart, whose satire program The Daily Show inspired Youssef to begin his career. Despite all controversy and legal debates it has sparked, El Bernameg has been a major success. It is constantly topping the regional YouTube charts, making Youssef’s YouTube channel one of the most subscribed to in Egypt. He tweets at @DrBassemYoussef .

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