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Has Egypt overcome the Brotherhood complex?

Did a revolution happen in Egypt in order to remain captive of the Brotherhood's complex? Or does a revolution mean a comprehensive change?

Khairallah Khairallah

Published: Updated:

Has anything changed in Egypt? Hope in Egypt, the biggest and most important Arab country, was not limited to getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood governance and the backwardness it represents, but it also included paving the way towards eliminating fear of the Brotherhood dominance which took the country decades back.

What's certain is that the government banning the Egyptian movie ‘Beauty of the Soul’ starring Lebanese diva Haifa Wehbe does not carry good news. The decision to ban the movie gives the impression that Egypt has only gotten rid of the Brotherhood complex on the surface but it hasn't really or deeply gotten rid of the Brotherhood's legacy and intellectual ascendancy.

The issues goes beyond banning a movie that might be good or bad, as this is an issue that the audience and critics decide at the end of the day. The issue is first and foremost linked to taking brave decisions in all sectors and fields, beginning with the cinema and all other arts.

Egypt was not a victim of the Brotherhood because a member of this group was president for a whole year; Egypt was a victim of fear, which allowed the Brotherhood to impose a lot on the society under the excuse of protecting morals. The organization thus benefitted from exploiting religion and at least two other factors.

A history of Brotherhood infiltration

The first one is represented with the regression of education across the country since the military attained power following the 1952 coup. The Brotherhood exploited this regression to the utmost as they began practicing strong and solid activity in universities and schools upon Anwar al-Sadat's encouragement, after he succeeded Gamal Abdelnasser in 1970.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy (R) stands with other senior figures in a cage in a courthouse on the first day of their trial in Cairo November 4, 2013. reuters
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy (R) stands with other senior figures in a cage in a courthouse on the first day of their trial in Cairo November 4, 2013. reuters

Back then, Sadat, who engaged in an early confrontation with other politicians, wanted to use the Brotherhood to strengthen his power, especially after he jailed Ali Sabri and his comrades in 1971.

Afterwards, Sadat needed the group to confront the repercussions resulting from huge decisions like expelling Soviet experts in 1971, engaging in the October War in 1973, going to Jerusalem in the fall of 1977 and signing the peace treaty with Israel in March 1979.

The last of which happened at a time when other Arabs sought to isolate Egypt under the influence of two Baathi regimes which mastered the act of exploiting "nationalistic" symbols in Syria and Iraq.

The Brotherhood benefitted from Sadat to the maximum before they got rid of him in October 1981.

Did a revolution happen in Egypt in order to remain captive of the Brotherhood's complex? Or does a revolution mean a comprehensive change that brings back Egypt to its glory and civilized face so one can say a real change happened in Egypt?

Khairallah Khairallah

The other factor which the Brotherhood used in their favor was the complex which former leader Husni Mubarak suffered from. Mubarak sought to politically weaken the Brotherhood but he allowed them to spread on all levels including in the media.

Even national dailies were infiltrated by the Brotherhood which had full pages to market their ideas in the shadow of certain editors-in-chief and writers. These people, who had shallow intellect at best, attained their posts because they were willing to please anybody just to be employees of the minister of information or this or that security apparatus.

There were of course few exceptions among the editors-in-chief during Mubarak's era. But what cannot be ignored is that political suppression of the Brotherhood, up to preventing them from entering parliament during the last elections held in Mubarak's era, was accompanied with their infiltration of all sectors and their moral influence as they marketed backwardness even in the sector of art.

Has progress been made?

The June 30 revolution expressed the Egyptians' rejection of the Brotherhood and of hijacking the January 25 revolution. The new governance, which came as a result of this real popular revolution, was supposed to get rid of the complexes of the past. This means to first end competitions over who is more Muslim.

Either there is freedom that includes all forms of art - from cinema to theatre to singing - or there should be no art in the country anymore. We are of course not calling for submitting to the phenomenon of decay, shallowness and vulgarity. But there must unbiased specialized committees consisting of competent people and that evaluate works of art away from the Brotherhood's complexes and the necessity to make religious arguments over them.

Saudi Arabia, instead of responding to the Khomeini revolution by being more open towards all that is civilized, made a religious bid against Iran and thus fell in the trap which the latter set for it. Also in 1979, following the seizure of the Grand Mosque by extremists led by Juhayman al-Otaybi, the Saudi kingdom responded by implementing a stricter enforcement of the Islamic code.

The terrorist attack came at a time when crown prince Fahed bin Abdulaziz was supposed to make a series of reforms that take the kingdom to a new different phase. But what can one do when governance becomes captive of extremism and involve in a game of bids? Isn't this falling in the trap?
Such bids are good for nothing.

They didn't benefit Saudi Arabia, currently on the verge of great reforms in the educational, cultural and social sectors after blacklisting the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. On the contrary, this bidding, at some point, produced Osama Bin Laden and others like him who turned against Saudi Arabia in a manner akin to the Brotherhood's coup against Anwar al-Sadat.

This bidding did not benefit Egypt either and it will not benefit it in the future. The confrontation with the Brotherhood and other extremist groups is a comprehensive confrontation which is not limited to security and war on terrorism. Cinema, art and culture in general are a major part of this confrontation with a group that mainly aims to alter the society's nature and to spread misery in order to control it. The situation in Gaza with the emirate of the Talbani Hamas is a perfect example of that.

Did a revolution happen in Egypt in order to remain captive of the Brotherhood's complex? Or does a revolution mean a comprehensive change that brings back Egypt to its glory and civilized face so one can say a real change happened in Egypt?

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Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer who has previously worked at Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper, he then moved to London and began writing political columns in Arabic language newspapers, including Al-Mustaqbal and Rosa El-Youssef.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.