– fordi tiden kræver et MODSPIL

01. May 2007

Ægyptisk - Muslim Brotherhood and Sandmonkeys

New York Times har en glimrende artikel om det Muslimske Broderskab, det stærkt religiøse parti, der har indtaget en position som den stærkeste, omend ikke den eneste, ægyptiske oppositionsgruppe.

Artiklen undersøger forbindelsen mellem USAs Ægypten-politik og dets angivelige mål om at udbrede demokrati i Mellemøsten og graver i den forbindelse spadestikket dybere end det sædvanlige krumsabelssvingende skræmmebillede af bevægelsen, man ofte ser.

Artiklens forfatter James Traub begynder med at forklare om regeringens seneste og meget omfattende aktioner og fængslinger af folk, der er eller mistænkes for at være medlemmer af partiet, og uddyber:
The arrest and imprisonment of political opponents is nothing new in Egypt, which has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian leaders since 1952; secular democrats are in jail along with the Islamists. Egypt is generally rated as one of the more repressive countries in the world’s most repressive region. But two years ago, responding in part to White House pressure, the regime of President Hosni Mubarak allowed parliamentary elections to take place under conditions of unprecedented political freedom — at least initially. And the brotherhood, though a banned organization that had to run candidates as independents, dominated the contest until the government cracked down in later rounds of voting. The organization still took 88 of the 454 seats in Egypt’s lower house, the People’s Assembly, becoming, in effect, the first opposition party of Egypt’s modern era.

But it is not simply numbers that make the brotherhood a threat from the regime’s point of view. While Mubarak and his allies regularly denounce the brothers as fundamentalists bent on turning Egypt into a theocracy, the new legislators have made common cause with judges, liberal intellectuals and secular activists in calling for increased political freedom. They have steered clear of cultural or religious issues. Abdel Monem Abou el-Fotouh, one of Ghozlan’s colleagues on the Guidance Bureau, said to me flatly, “We are not a religious body.” Only one of his 15 fellow guides, he said, is a sheik, or religious authority — “and even he is political.” While many secular critics fear that the brotherhood harbors a hidden Islamist agenda, so far the organization has posed a democratic political challenge to the regime, not a theological one; and that makes it all the more dangerous.
Men er det muslimske broderskab ikke en stærkt islamistisk bevægelse, der går ind for sharia med alt hvad det indebærer af stening, håndsafhugning, forfølgelse af homoseksuelle, osv?

Nej, ikke ifølge NYTs artikel - en demokratisk valgt regering (hvilket man ikke har i Ægypten i dag) har en ret til at træffe beslutninger, som går ud over disse ting:
s it has fully entered the political arena, the brotherhood has been forced to come up with clear answers on issues about which it has been notably ambiguous in the past. Some are easy enough: There seems to be little appetite among them for stoning adulterers or lopping off the hands of thieves; and all deprecate the jizya, or tax on nonbelievers, as a relic of an era when only Muslims served in the military. Some are not so easy. I asked Magdy Ashour about the drinking of alcohol, which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic states. He was quite unfazed. “There is a concept in Shariah that if you commit the sin in private it’s different from committing it in public,” he explained. You can drink in a hotel, but not in the street. This was flexibility verging on pragmatism. I wondered if Ashour, and the other brotherhood candidates, had offered such nuanced judgments on the stump; a number of detractors insist that the group’s campaign rhetoric was much more unabashedly Islamist.

There are, of course, more fundamental questions. In the course of a three-hour conversation in the brotherhood’s extremely modest office in an apartment building in one of Cairo’s residential neighborhoods, I asked Muhammad Habib, the deputy supreme guide, how the brotherhood would react if the Legislature passed a law that violated Shariah. “The People’s Assembly has the absolute right in that situation,” he said, “as long as it is elected in a free and fair election which manifests the people’s will. The Parliament could go to religious scholars and hear their opinion” — as it could seek the advice of economists on economic matters — “but it is not obliged to listen to these opinions.” Some consider grave moral issues, like homosexual marriage, beyond the pale of majoritarianism; others make no such exception. Hassan al-Banna famously wrote that people are the source of authority. This can be understood, if you wish to, as the Islamic version of the democratic credo.
Når det er sagt, har Broderskabet en lang, voldelig og autoritær historie, der kan kaste tvivl om de reelle intentioner, den dag de faktisk får magten - men det er omvendt svært at se logikken eller berettigelsen i at bekæmpe en fredelig opposition med vilkårlige fængslinger og tortur, som det sker i dag.

Læs i øvrigt hele artiklen og døm selv!

Den ægyptiske blogger Sandmonkey, som vi ofte har citeret i forbindelse med såvel karikaturkrisen som demokratibevægelsen i Ægypten, har besluttet at kaste håndklædet i ringen - både, fordi han mærker jorden brænde under sig, og fordi han er træt af udviklingen i Ægypten i almindelighed og den ægyptiske blogosfære i særdeleshed.

Læs selv:
One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day. I ignore that, the same way I ignored all the clicking noises that my phones started to exhibit all of a sudden, or the law suit filed by Judge Mourad on my friends, and instead grew bolder and more reckless at a time where everybody else started being more cautious. It took me a while to take note of the fear that has been gripping our little blogsphere and comprehend what it really means. The prospects for improvment, to put it slightly, look pretty grim. I was the model of caution, and believing in my invincipility by managing not to get arrested for the past 2 and a half years, I've grown reckless. Stupid Monkey. Stupid!

And speaking of the state of the egyptian blogsphere, it has been pretty depressing in its own right. One has to wonder at some point the futulity of being a keyboard warrior in a country where nothing seems to matter to its people anymore. At the same time, there has been those amongst us who have loved the fame and the attention, and are now becoming the egyptian blogsphere's equivelant of Paris Hilton: They are famous for being famous, peddling the same stories and not really presenting anything of value to the debate. And then there is the fact that we are entering the "Iconogrphy" phase : We are becoming Icons. Too much Media attention, too many american organizations claiming to champion our causes while they are cashing out in donation from people gullible enough to believe them, too much hype generated by us and others, so many of us tooting our own horns and even crying wolf at times has made Icons of us. We now have young bloggers who come up to many of us "Old Guard" and tell us how they are such great fans of ours, and how we are their role models and heroes and how they are starting to blog because of our "courageous example". And there are those of us who are buying into it, taking in undertsudies to placate our big heads, hooking up with groupies to feed our egos, acting as if we are the warriors for change we are made up to be and forgetting why we started blogging to begin with. It seems that we are entering a state of transformation, and we should either 1) evolve, take the next step whatever it is, 2) stay the way we are and risk becoming carricatures of ourselves or 3) quit. Not knowing what the next step is, and needing time and space to figure it out, I chose the only other option that made sense: I quit!
Link til artiklen i New York Times (via The Arabist).
Link til Sandmonkeys afskedsindlæg (via Sudanese Thinker).