Does the Brotherhood have the right to “Ikwanise” the state?

Farid Zahran
8 Min Read
Farid Zahran
Farid Zahran

In any democratic country the ruling party forms the government and appoints governors and heads of bodies and fields its members in a long list of leading positions in a way that enables the winning party to carry out its electoral platform and goals for which it was elected

However, the matter in Egypt seems to be noticeably different. The Muslim Brotherhood, despite its win in the parliamentary and presidential elections, only formed a government that is loyal to it, instead of a Brotherhood one.

But they were harshly slammed by social and democratic powers in Egypt. The same happened when the group appointed its cadres and supporters as governors and editors-in-chief of the national newspapers and institutions.

Remarkably, the group reluctantly appointed its loyalists and when the Brotherhood’s opponents complained that the Islamic group had appointed its cadres, the Brotherhood denied it and considered it an accusation against them. The group then started a long debate over the numbers of its loyalists and supporters who were among the government line-up or among the governors and editors of national newspapers.

Previously, the Brotherhood had frequently announced that it would form a coalition government that represented the full political spectrum. Furthermore, they said the leadership of national newspapers would be chosen from all political currents, according to professional criteria. They also underlined that governors would be picked according to their competencies and problem solving ability, regardless of their political affiliations.

It is well known that the Brotherhood, in all its choices and in all the leading positions, was keen on choosing its supporters. Instead of considering the matter natural and legal, it was seen by many as unacceptable behavior. Surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, took a defensive position, as if it had done something necessitating an apology or denial. Meanwhile, the opponents of the Brotherhood, who were opposed to the group forming the government and imposing its cadres and supporters, seemed to be in the right.

Who gave the Brotherhood’s opponents all that power to criticise a matter that did not deserve criticism, and who put the group in that defensive and apologetic position?

The first reason behind this is, of course, the promises made by the Muslim Brotherhood to form a coalition government and to represent all political movements in the presidential advisory council and editorship of the newspapers. The Brotherhood could not fulfill these promises except in a provocative way that was based on imitation more than facts.

The group denied the “Ikwanisation” of the government through a pretext that the officials in question are not card-carrying Brotherhood members, although it was well known that they were core loyalists to the group. This infuriated opponents, who considered this not only a broken promise but also an insult to their intelligence.

The second reason that increased criticism leveled against the group over “Ikwanisation” of the state prompted the group to deny or implicitly apologise, seems, though not in a direct way, more important and deeper. The reason is related to the performance of the group and its practices that seem to be very weird and different from what people used to.

Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s bids to appear normal and not odd, there is a gap in many cases between Muslim Brotherhood officials’ plans for the tasks assigned to them and what people are familiar with. This indicates that the Muslim Brotherhood is extremely different, to an astonishing extent.

For example, you can refuse or accept the appointment of a governor who pays attention to top investors in the governorate, ignores the demands of the “underprivileged people” or does not adopt an open-door policy in dealing with complainants, but how do you deal with a governor whose first action in the role is to visit an Islamic preacher who is well-known for his extremist ideas? To make matters worse, the governor announced after paying that visit that his mission is not to attract investment or develop the resources of the governorate, but primarily to preach religion to the people.

Another example: one might accept the Brotherhood appointing editors who are loyal to the group, even if they have no professional experience, but should we accept that the curriculum vitae of some of them includes memorising the holy Quran as a skill and having interviewed the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood as an achievement? After the appointment of such figures, it’s hardly a surprise that senior writers like Abla Al-Roueiny and Ibrahim Abdul Majeed have been censored.

Note my dear reader that these exclusionary practices occurred after the group was in power only three months, not three decades.

I do not want to continue with more examples, but I want to underline that  power rotation in democratic countries would not have succeeded if it took place, in Italy for example, between a group of radical parties including the leftist Red Brigades or the far right fascists. A successful transfer of power depends on the presence of a group of parties that share the main current in the political life, along with radical groups on the right or on the left of that main current. However the system mechanisms and the rules of the democratic games will be destroyed if these radical parties assume power.

“Ikwanisation” is a right for the Islamic group within the limits of changing the government and its direction, but does not extend to changing the structure of the state and the mechanism of the democratic system. But we face now worrying bids to change the state, not the government. We do not mean the scope and the size of the change, but we mean the nature of that change that made a governor pay a visit to inspect the conditions of the citizens in his governorate while wearing a Pakistani-style Jalabeya.

The question now is, will the Muslim Brotherhood rush toward “Ikwanising” the state, ie establishing a religious state, or will they act as a political party imposing a government with the tendency towards bringing politics and religion together, but far from the Jalabeya?

Share This Article
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party
1 Comment