Think Again: The Muslim Brotherhood

MB protestorsBY ERIC TRAGER:

How did so many Western analysts get Egypt’s Islamist movement so wrong?

“They’re democrats.”

Don’t kid yourself. Long before the Jan. 25 revolution that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, many academics and policymakers argued that his main adversary — the Muslim Brotherhood — had made its peace with democracy. This was based on the assumption that, since the Muslim Brotherhood participated in virtually every election under Mubarak, it was committed to the rule of the people as a matter of principle.

It was also based on what typically sympathetic Western researchers heard from Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and what I heard as well. “Democracy is shura,” Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater told me during a March 2011 interview, referring to the Islamic jurisprudential tool of “consultation.” The implication was that the Brotherhood accepted a political system that encouraged open debate.

Yet since the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsy, was elected president in June, the exact opposite has been true. The Brotherhood’s only real “consultation” has been with the Egyptian military, which the Brotherhood persuaded to leave power by ceding substantial autonomy to it under the new constitution. Among other undemocratic provisions, this backroom deal yielded constitutional protection for the military’s separate court system, under which civilians can be prosecuted for the vague crime of “damaging the armed forces.”

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood has embraced many of the Mubarak regime’s autocratic excesses: Editors who are critical of the Brotherhood have lost their jobs, and more journalists have been prosecuted for insulting the president during Morsy’s six months in office than during Mubarak’s 30-year reign. And much as Mubarak’s ruling party once did, the Brotherhood is using its newfound access to state resources as a political tool: It reportedly received below-market food commodities from the Ministry of Supply and Social Affairs, which it is redistributing to drum up votes in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The Brotherhood’s most blatantly undemocratic act, however, was Morsy’s Nov. 22 “constitutional declaration,” through which he placed his presidential edicts above judicial scrutiny and asserted the far-reaching power to “take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution.” When this power grab catalyzed mass protests, Morsy responded by ramming a new constitution through the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, and the Brotherhood later mobilized its cadres to attack the anti-Morsy protesters, and subsequently extract confessions from their captured fellow citizens. So much for promises of “consultation.”

As the Brotherhood’s first year in power has demonstrated, elections do not, by themselves, yield a democracy. Democratic values of inclusion are also vital. And the Muslim Brotherhood — which has deployed violence against protesters, prosecuted its critics, and leveraged state resources for its own political gain — clearly lacks these values.

Read the rest of this excellent piece at Foreign Policy

Morsi Annuls Decree, Advances 12/15/12 Constitutional Referendum

Morsi-new-decree

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi (C) attends a meeting with Egypt’s Vice President Mahmoud Mekky (4th L) with other politicians and heads of parties at the presidential palace in Cairo December 8, 2012. A new decree was issued to accomplish the same popularly supported result as the 11/22/12 decree—a more Sharia-compliant constitution for a Sharia-thirsty Egyptian society

by Andrew Bostom

Al-Ahram has just published (Sunday 12/9/12)  in English translation the full text of a new constitutional declaration that revokes the controversial constitutional declaration issued by Egyptian President Morsi on November 22, 2012.

The earlier decree granting Morsi sweeping executive powers, which he insisted was necessary to move Egypt’s democratic transition forward, did in fact break the deadlock over the draft constitution. According to Mohammad Salim al-Awa, spokesman for a national political dialogue  held Saturday (albeit, boycotted by the major Morsi government opposition groups), the most contentious article from the prior 11/22/12 edict, which placed all of Morsi’s actions beyond judicial review, has been abrogated.

But the referendum on Egypt’s newly minted, increasingly Sharia-compliant draft constitution, will proceed apace, under the following conditions, outlined in item 3 of the new declaration:

3- If the people vote against the draft constitution in the referendum on Saturday, 15 December 2012, the president is to call for the direct election of a new Constituent Assembly of 100 members within three months.

The new Assembly is to finish its task within six months from its election date. The president is to then call for a referendum on the new draft presented by the Assembly within thirty days of receiving it.

In all cases, vote counting and the announcement of results in the constitutional referendum is to take place publicly in election subcommittees as soon as the voting process is finished. The results are to be validated by the head of the subcommittee.

Despite polling data reported yesterday from Vote Compass Egypt, indicating a mass Egyptian popular support of 70% for the constitution,  National Salvation Front “liberal” opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei, with predictable (if delusive) bravado,  tweeted shortly after 2 a.m Sunday 12/9/12,

We have broken the barrier of fear: A constitution that axes our rights and freedoms is a constitution we will bring down today before tomorrow. Our strength is in our will.

Egypt Draft Constitution Institutes Sharia as Law of Land

Egyptians in Cairo chant against the Muslim Brotherhood and demand for the Sharia-based constitution to be dissolved (Photo: Reuters)

by: Ryan Mauro

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are at odds over the exact language of the draft Egyptian constitution, but the difference is meaningless. Sharia will be the law of the land. And the U.S. responseis that it is withholding judgment until a constitution is officially proposed but so far, so good!

The dispute is over the precise definition of the role of Sharia in Article 2. The Muslim Brotherhood is satisfied with declaring “the principles” of Sharia to be the main source of legislation. The Salafists want it to say that Sharia (not its principles) is the main source of legislation. That is what the fuss is over.

On October 18, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website carried a statement from Dr. Mahmoud Ghozlan, a leader in its Guidance Bureau that sits on the Constitutional Assembly that is writing the draft. It claims that an agreement has been reached, but the Salafists are still planning demonstrations on November 2.

Ghozlan says that the General Provisions section of the constitution will define what is meant by the language of Article 2:

“The principles of Islamic Sharia include general evidence and fundamentalist bases, rules and jurisprudence, as well as sources accepted by doctrines of Sunni Islam and the majority of Muslim scholars,” it reads.

In other words, the institution of Sharia.

The fact that even this isn’t strong enough language for the Salafists shows how radical they are. By the way, the Salafists won about 20% of the vote in the parliamentary elections.

Non-Islamists are also outraged about the language of another part of the draft. Article 68 reads, “The state shall take all measures to establish the equality of women and men in the areas of political, cultural, economic and social life, as well as other areas, insofar as this does not conflict with the rulings of Islamic Sharia.”

Manal El-Tibi, a human rights activist, saw what was happening and quit the Constituent Assembly. She complained that the Assembly is stacked with Islamists and “they want not only an Islamic Egypt but a Caliphate … I saw all the dirty details.”

Read more at Radical Islam

Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org’s National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.