Egypt: Fear of Islamists
By: Salamah Kayla Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).
The fear of Islamists, which have become a real force after being seen as the main force of opposition to the regimes, has prevailed over the last decades. Yet this fear has escalated since the revolutions in Arab countries. It could be said that civil circles — from left-wing to secular groups — are living in a state of fear, labeling the conflict as a civil-religious one.
About This Article
Fear of a total takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood has weakened Egypt’s leftists and secular parties and caused them to stray from addressing the core problems that caused Egypt’s revolution, writes Salamah Kayla.Publisher: Al-Hayat (Pan Arab)
Elites Phobia and Fear of Islamists?
Author: Salamah Kayla
First Published: January 11, 2013
Posted on: January 11 2013
Translated by: Joelle El-Khoury
Categories : Egypt
Despite all the flaws, which have emerged since the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power in Tunisia and Egypt (and even Morocco) through elections, fear still overpowers civil forces. It has even escalated to the point that they have became convinced that Islamists are working to exert complete domination that they will be in control for many years. For this reason, they note that the Arab Spring turned into “an Islamic autumn,” which has ipso facto reduced the attention paid to popular movements and called them into question. It also resulted in interpreting the main conflict to be focused on the Brotherhood and that the central position — a term popularized by Soviet Marxism — is to confront them and ensure that the conflict is between those who advocate for a civil state and those who advocate for a religious state and to make sure that all alliances must be based on this alignment.
Is there a fear that Islamists will dominate or control authority for decades?
Iran's experience with the dominance and control of Khomeini and the clergy over state authority since 1979, and the ongoing Islamists seizure of power in Sudan, ongoing since 1989, laid the foundations for a deep fear that the experience is repeating. This is, of course, without taking into account that local and global circumstances are different; particularly, that the Islamists’ arrival to power today is linked to the situation that was produced by the revolutions, and that will be necessarily linked to the revolutions themselves. Revolutions have started, but they are not over yet. In order for the situation to be stabilized, an economic change must be achieved by solving the problems of a large segment of the population, which is relevant to employment, salaries, education, health services and a civil state.
For this reason, we say that Islamists are facing a crucial dilemma that has no solution. They have neither the vision nor an interest in resolving all these problems. This is because the economic solution is based on breaking the pattern that was consecrated by the former regimes — such as the rentier economy, which was controlled by a familial mafia group. Nevertheless, Islamists strengthen the rentier economy by consolidating commercial, service and financial activities and rejecting industrial and agricultural activities. They are liberals in Islamic garb, liberals being a predator lurking behind globalization.
This situation will certainly make them unable to absorb popular tension. Therefore, they will be placed at the forefront of class conflict.
So, why is there a fear of long-term hegemony? Why do left-wingers and seculars fear a stable totalitarian power?
It is probably obvious that the political-cultural perspective determines the nature of the conflict and represents the origin of the fear (and even horror) that Islamists might assume control. This perspective takes into consideration the reality, logic and ambitions of these forces, and based on [these elements] it reflects its response, regardless of the fact that this may or may not happen in reality.
The Muslim Brotherhood no doubt is preparing to prolong its hold on power and imagines that “the divine promise” was fulfilled through “their inheritance of the land and all that is upon it” and that it take care so it does not lose this power. Their logic pushes in the direction of establishing a religious state and a totalitarian ecclesiastic authority. Therefore, the Brotherhood plans to impose its hegemony on the state’s apparatus and appoint its members to key posts. Moreover, it shows the essence of its fascist position and its willingness to control and impose its values on the community. However, the question that must be asked is: Can the Brotherhood achieve it?
This question doesn't occur to the elites and parties. They believe that the personal will shall be victorious, regardless of its objectivity, as they outright disregard objectivity and act according to their own will. In this way, the Brotherhood’s will to control becomes intrinsic. Moreover, since this will is extremely strong and has a tendency to resort to violence in order to control, fear increases, as if what it is working to achieve will become unquestionable fact. This would create all this fear and pushes the elites towards adopting bad policies that are based on an alliance with any party that opposes to the Brotherhood. This pushes the alliance far from addressing real problems; instead, they use the civil-religious conflict as cover, and ignore people’s problems, which are the reasons why revolutions took place.
These problems, which required the revolutions to take place and which still need to be resolved, make it impossible for Islamists to impose their authority, because they lack a solution. Thus, this will force popular movements to continue and turn against Islamists. Then, the authority will be unable to exert its control as an authority which will cause them to grow weak and diminish their ability to control. The Brotherhood rose to power in a revolutionary moment that is impossible to halt before change is achieved and popular problems are resolved. This means that the revolution will continue, the Brotherhood’s power will completely fail and its strength will dwindle away.
Since the elites and parties are overpowered by this political-cultural perspective, they do not see this reality. Rather, they only see the Brotherhood’s strength and will. For this reason, we find them moving outside the boundaries of reality and involving themselves in imaginary battles that serve the Brotherhood, because they are based on the grounds of the political-cultural conflict, rather than popular reality and real conflict in the community.
Consequently, every isolated elite creates the fear of any force that wants to rise to power, because it wants to exert its own hegemony. This has created much fear of the return of the military in Egypt, and now fear of the Brotherhood’s authority. For this reason, elites have manufactured this delirium on their own, which shows the horror that resulted from their isolation, occupying a narrow political-cultural bubble.
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