Monday,17 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)
Monday,17 June, 2019
Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

In-Focus: Muslim Brotherhood initiatives

Egypt is not fighting individuals but ideas and a radical group with connections overseas that receives foreign support to destabilise the state, writes Galal Nassar

اقرأ باللغة العربية

Monitors of political Islam and the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group were not surprised by the proposal by leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Kamal Al-Halabawi in London, where he has resided for nearly one year. Via Skype and broadcast on channels and websites based in Istanbul, Al-Halabawi proposed creating a “Council of Elders” to include known patriotic and nationalist figures and experts, whether Egyptian or Arab. He said figures living in London will be in charge of promoting the idea.

These figures, who are known for their integrity according to him, will spearhead “historic mediation” to end the “existing conflict” between the “state of Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood”. He claimed this call for national conciliation “is all inclusive and does not exclude anyone” except violent and terrorist groups. However, the proposal completely ignores Muslim Brotherhood violence, incitement, edicts to bomb and target state property and institutions.

Anyone who closely monitors Muslim Brotherhood figures and issues knows it is not surprising that Al-Halabawi is still a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, although he appeared to oppose the group at times and was a member of the Committee of 50 that drafted the 2014 constitution, which was an unusual decision by the Egyptian state at the time. Previously, Al-Halabawi was spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in the West for 20 years but resigned from the group in protest of the Muslim Brotherhood contesting the 2012 presidential elections. He also opposed the sit-in of Muslim Brotherhood supporters at Rabaa after Mohamed Morsi was deposed, and savagely attacked the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian media for the past four years before calling for reconciliation with it, and appearing on Muslim Brotherhood channels.

Al-Halabawi, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders never abandoned the group’s ideology or that of its founder Hassan Al-Banna and its theorist Sayed Qotb. Their disputes are with some of the group’s current leadership regarding viewpoints, decisions, policies or rivalry over Muslim Brotherhood leadership. The same is true of political Islam experts and analysts on satellite channels who once belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood, were indoctrinated in its ideas, and led the debate, discussion and clamour about every development or initiative according to carefully designated roles. And somehow, the state and elite embrace them.

The danger of Al-Halabawi’s proposal is that it compromises the state’s stature because the presence of any non-Egyptian figures, even if they are Arab or nationalists, is a clear step towards evolving what is known as “the existing conflict between the Egyptian state and Muslim Brotherhood” into an international issue. It would be similar to rounds of negotiations on Syria and other conflicts, and is an insult to the state because it equates between a terrorist group and the state and its institutions. The only response to the proposal came from President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who said this is a decision for the people, not the regime, government or even parliament.

This initiative, and others proposed by figures close to the Muslim Brotherhood, paints the state as refusing to extend its hand in peace to a group that claims piety, moderation and that it is treated unfairly and persecuted. These claims give them more leverage with decision and policymakers in the West, which is trying to impose political Islam at the helm of the Arab scene, in line with the vision of Western security and research institutions that believe 57 Muslim majority countries must be ruled by a pragmatic political current that will serve Western interests. This is embodied in the Muslim Brotherhood and its violent arms that are used to impose scenarios and alternatives inside these Muslim-majority societies and countries.

The danger of such an initiative is that it paves the way for “comprehensive conciliation that excludes no one” which is sly and malicious wording that makes the state appear to be living a conflict with several groups within society. It is a precedent and will lead us to many endless negotiations on several issues under the umbrella of conciliation and ending persecution, including Sinai, Nubia, Copts and others under the auspices of sponsors, countries and organisations.

The state must clearly establish that it will not negotiate with a group that has killed and slaughtered martyrs, targeted the state, its security and stability, and harmed the interests of the people. Also, that it rejects any formula that undermines its sovereignty or equates between the state and a terrorist group, and it must assert that no law prevents a citizen from living safely in Egypt as long as they voluntarily abandon violence and radical ideology; they would have the same rights and duties as other citizens. The state is not fighting individuals but ideas and a radical group with connections overseas, that receives foreign support and cooperates with countries, groups and intelligence agencies to destabilise Egypt.

Egypt should rethink its foreign policy according to this vision, and anyone who supports or shelters these instigators is a clear enemy of the state of Egypt and its people.

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