Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Muslim Brotherhood Needs to Change Before Asking the US for Support (Tawfik Hamid)

Good questions ....

Muslim Brotherhood Needs to Change Before Asking the US for Support
By Tawfik Hamid
In an article published in the Washington Post on Feb 4 [I], Mr. Khairat el-Shater, the deputy supreme guide of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) accused the U.S. and Europe of neglect after the January 25, 2011 uprising and overthrow of the Mubarak regime.
This situation raises several points for discussion.
First, the MB convinced millions of Muslims over the last few decades that "Islam is the Solution". In fact this has been used as their slogan to support their political party (Freedom[II] & Justice Party) in the recent Egyptian elections. The MB need to explain to us and to the Muslim world where has the slogan "Islam is the Solution" gone? And; if Islam is the Solution as they claimed, why then are they begging for money and support from the West? Shall we see their attempt to gain Western support as an admission of failure of this slogan?
Second, if the MB is ready to accept money from the U.S. and from Europe, then the concept of Sharia Banking that many Islamic organizations have been promoting for years has to be seen as a big myth since part of the money from the US and Europe are coming from un-Islamic sources such as taxes and alcohol. Additionally, the interest rate for these Western loans will not likely follow the Sharia rules. Shall we consider this request from the MB to the West as an indication that Western Banking systems are fully compatible with Islam and thus there is no need for Islamic Banking?
Third, why has the MB not taken correct measures to improve the Egyptian economy instead of blaming others for not supporting Egypt? These measures could have included issuing a clear statementimmediately [III] after the Jan 25 revolution to say that they support the freedom of women to dress as they wish (including wearing bikinis) and freedom of drinking alcohol will be respected under their ruling. Such statements could have helped prevent the collapse of the tourism industry after the revolution. In fact, the MB did the opposite as on several occasions many of their leading members have expressed animosity to tourists wearing bikinis and drinking alcohol - which ultimately resulted in a very negative impact on Egypt's tourism industry and thus weakening the country's economy. It seems bizarre that the MB leaders have been giving statements that frightened tourists instead of reassuring them and at the end- instead of blaming themselves for contributing to the economic crisis of the country - blames the West instead for the economic collapse after the uprising.
Had the MB expressed clearly andimmediately after the Revolution that they would follow the Turkish model of secularism and will not interfere in personal freedoms of individuals such as dressing and drinking, the tourism industry would not have collapsed to such an extent and the economic situation would not have been so dire.  
Fourth, how is the MB expecting support from the US while they refuse - until today - to give a clear and strong commitment to one of the main interests of the US in the region which is to the peace treaty with Israel. Recently, the MB announced that they will put the peace treaty with Israel toa referendum while they know very well that the majority of Egyptians are against it (IV). 

The leaders of the MB need to give unambiguous statements to show respect to US interests and stop their clear support for the Hamas organization that aims - according to their charter - at killing all Jews, before expecting American support.  
Fifth, the attempt of the MB to get support from Western countries could be an indication that wealthy Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are reluctant to support them. Irrespective of the reason or reasons for such reluctance, there is a possibility that these Arab countries are afraid of the success of Egypt after the Jan 25 revolution as this success may be used to encourage their own population to revolt against the leaders of these countries.
 [I] From Egypt, a call for Western support by Stephen Glain: The Washington Post Feb 4 2012 A7
[II] According to Sayd Quttb (one of the most respected religious thinkers for the MB), "Freedom" means freedom from man-made Western laws and "justice" means according to Sharia law
[III] It took the MB nearly a year to start issuing some statements to reassuretourism industry. These statements were too late and are still not very clear and can be seen as temporary tactical step rather than a real change in policy.
[IV]Due to the virulent anti-Semitism the Mubarak regime allowed

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