As noted yesterday, Dr. Khairat Al-Shater, Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), will be the popular, mainstream Egyptian Islamic party’s candidate for the Presidency, breaking the MB’s pledge not to seek this executive office, and assure itself a potential monopoly on state power.
Despite being predictably measured and guarded, thus far, in his public statements, and reported attitudes, even the New York Times conceded that Al-Shater supports “an explicitly Islamic government.” Moreover, the Times acknowledges Al-Shater’s active promotion of “undemocratic” tendencies:
Mr. Shater led a push to bar Brotherhood members from dissenting from the political stands of its Freedom and Justice Party, and he led the expulsion of those who sought less conservative Islamist politics.
But perhaps most revealing of Al-Shater’s totalitarian Islamic Weltanschauung were the frank comments he made about Al Azhar University, during an interview with Al-Ahram from January of this year, and more explicitly, on implementing an Islamic state in April of 2011.
Since its founding in 973 A.D., Al Azhar University (and its mosque) have represented a pinnacle of Islamic religious education, which evolved into the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam. Unfortunately, during that same millennium, through the present era, Al Azhar and its leading clerics have espoused the unreformed, unrepentant jihad bellicosity and infidel hatred at the core of mainstream Islam. The irrefragable truth of Al Azhar’s persistent Medieval obscurantism can be readily gleaned from a sampling of fatwas (Islamic religious rulings) and statements issued during 1739, till now. Moreover, the late Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Tantawi’s own writings, statements, and career trajectory represent the apotheosis of these ugly realities.
Notwithstanding these doctrinal and historical realities, while affirming appropriately, its stature as the global representative of mainstream Sunni Islam, Al-Shater opined, regarding Al-Azhar,
We believe Al-Azhar has a key role to play; and we are happy for it to take its natural place on the religious level primarily, as a beacon of moderate mainstream Islamic thought. So, a major global role awaits Al-Azhar, both in Egypt and abroad. Indeed, Al-Azhar’s role is required strongly in Africa and Asia as well as former Soviet Union countries. We hope it will focus on its primary role, but by all means it should express its views on political issues, because indeed Islam is religion and state.
We are continuing to build the individual and the House and the Muslim community, and prepare for the Islamic government as a stage subsequent to the application of a renaissance of community-based Islamic reference…to rule the world stage, and [with?] the return of the Islamic State.
Al-Shater’s aspirations for the full-blown re-emergence of theocratic Islamic governance in Egypt seem quite clear, and are consistent with MB’s long held goals.