The Voodoo of fighting terrorism while cradling Islamism 

Following every terror attack in Egypt, secularists, myself included, engage in long conversations on the necessity of combating Islamist ideologies [Islam as a religion and constitution] for the sake of our country’s national security. We also urge the state to allow Muslim reformers to speak freely without fear of getting thrown in jail and to prevent government senior officials, especially in the ministry of Islamic affairs and Al-Azhar, from promoting extremist, fundamentalist, and Islamist ideas. High on adrenaline, we tend to forget that most Muslims in Egypt actually put Islam high above the Egyptian state: they are Muslims living in Egypt not Egyptians who believe in Islam. It is one of the reasons why some Europeans are rightly concerned about the increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe alongside declining birth rates. Islam, unlike Christianity now, supersedes the state. Sharia courts and FGM in England come to mind.

Islamists in Egypt, including the ones in the government and Al-Azhar and Salafists, hold great sway over the minds of Muslims, particularly younger ones. Islamism gives these men of God the moral and executive authority to mobilize millions of youths towards a particular goal should the situation arise and the need for action is true enough. If Sisi challenges the core ideas that enables Islamists to control Egyptian Muslims without a meticulously calculated plan implemented incrementally, the outcome can be devastating for him and Egypt. Islamists will not watch helplessly as the rug is pulled from under their feet and the authority they worked years to achieve evaporates. Sisi is surely well aware of what happened when Saddam Hussein and his party tried secularizing Iraq in an economy much better than Egypt’s. Islamists have the know-how and texts to label him an enemy of Islam if they sense he is sincere about delegitimizing the authority they derive from the interpretation of Islam they promote, preach, and write literature for; they also have the capability to turn millions of youths against him and Christians, like some of them do now but on a mass scale. It is delusional, for example, to think that Salafists believe in anything but an Islamic State, they are just currently relaxed because the government allows them to freely, absolutely freely, propagate the ideas ISIS is putting into action and instill them in the minds of children.

Islam Beheiry, who had been jailed for criticizing extremist interpretations of the Quran and Hadith, says Al-Azhar University’s curricula must be updated to remove all hard-line stipulations derived from the Quran and Hadith such as the ones on fighting infidels and hating non-Muslims or discriminating against them. According to Beheiry, former head of Al-Azhar Mohamed Sayed Tantawi had actually taken this step before the current Grand Imam Ahmed Eltayeb rescinded it. Sisi, on more than one occasion, called on Al-Azhar scholars to actively combat extremist texts, not Islamism, but was met with deaf ears time and time again. And while it is true that Sisi’s authority is unchecked and he can pretty much get away with anything, when it comes to religion, if his vision of reforming and modernizing Islam, which neither denotes nor connotes rejecting the principle of Islam as a religion and state constitution, is not fully aligned with the Islamists and Salafists inside and outside his government he can find himself up against a volcano of terrorism and disobedience.

Taking small but real and effective steps, and cementing them, towards a secular Egypt is the only viable way. Sisi, however, still seems reluctant to take it. Sisi and many Egyptians seem to think terrorism can be fought without challenging Islamism, but if the statement Islam is a religion and state constitution is true, does it not follow that Men of God should rule or fight until power is in their hands?!!

Apathy in Egypt’s Political Landscape

The prices are rising beyond the reach of an increasing number of Egyptians, jobs are a few and those who provide them exploit the crippling unemployment by paying less for more working hours, takfiri thoughts are spreading unchecked and the state is doing nothing to combat them, policemen are disrespectful towards citizens and the youth abhor them, the parliament and the government are both wrapped around the president’s finger, and critical voices are silenced. This boilerplate paragraph has been relevant for more than 15 years now. Everything is exactly the same. January 25 has achieved nothing and people know it, they don’t need a pundit telling them that, especially a pundit who earns six-figure payments for regurgitating boilerplates on T.V., they are weary, tired, and apathetic. We have been numbed by the same events played by different actors to be talked about by the same pundits using slightly different vocabulary. If you don’t work in politics and don’t make money out if it, politics becomes cigarettes: an instant fix but a massive waste of time and brainpower. Although Ibraheem Eissa had some dedicated viewers, I’m willing to bet that the talking heads making a fuss about the cancellation of his show are journalists and politicians: suits who make money or score points talking about him.

It’s unknown, however, what will the regime do with apathetic people disillusioned with a media apparatus -often used as PR for the state- who are beginning to show signs of willingness to change their moral guidelines due to rising poverty? I’m referring to Egyptians mulling eating donkeys and, but that’s a very tiny minority, even cats and dogs. We don’t know what the rulers think and we don’t care, and neither do they. But apathy is unpredictable if prone to shift towards anger. And political apathy is one thing Islamists amazingly exploit to enshrine their rancid ideology in glorious realms. The less people care about politics while living conditions are steadily deteriorating the more quickly they will forget about Morsi’s disastrous period and the rhetoric of “Islam is the answer” will be revived. Extreme communist ideas also gain popularity when the practice of democracy is on hold. When you can’t, or don’t know how to, do anything to better your life and you know your ceremonial participation in a cryptic pseudo-democratic process won’t yield anything, your mind begins entertaining and believing in romantic and dramatic solutions. And maybe ruling is not the strong suit of Islamists or communists, but fomenting dissent is. I have been observing Egyptians who would have never paid any attention to Muslim Brotherhood propaganda searching for their satellite channels, broadcasted from Turkey, and YouTube videos, because they can’t tolerate the lies spread by government and private but government-obedient media. Meaning that, in a sense, the regime is unknowingly creating the good conditions for its antithesis to grow, however, the entire synthesis is bad. We know, we have seen it before.

Army bad, Islamists cool

The Egyptian Army has a monopoly on our economy, and as a consumer I can say the economy is not doing well and services are relatively cheap but appalling. Yet, I find it impossible to understand leftists who repeat that rhetoric while deliberately ignoring or downplaying the threat of Islamists who make up a big portion of our government and administrative system. You often hear leftist activists saying “he wouldn’t have blown himself up had he been granted a well-paying job upon graduation or received unemployment aid”. So the rhetoric sounds reasonable, bad economy creates terrorists and the army is responsible for the stagnation of Egypt, completely disregarding the role of ideology; the people who suicide bomb us anticipate massive orgies in heavenly palaces. That’s why I despise the “against the army with Islamists” rhetoric and deem those who pronounce it vile enemies to me. And this enmity spreads to the army and government for not realizing the grave threat of political Islam radicalizing young minds beyond any reformation and not working full force to combat Islamists’ cultural influence.

Islamists as a counterbalance to the army is curing fever with cyanide. I have no plans or answers or solutions, I write out of spite for Islamists and leftists who see the army blocking the road to a better country but refuse to see Islamists pissing in the minds of future generations.

What do the Muslim Brothers belong to?

What do the Muslim Brothers and Sisters belong to? Certainly not to Egypt, at least not as it is. Although they have made great steps towards the Egypt they seek – Islamic wear, widespread Islamic bigotry, revival of the Islamic supremacy dream- it is still not a place they would call home, to this day Egyptians in love with life can be found next to true liberals and libertarians. Not to mention the Egyptian administration will never go full caliphate. Yet, a threat remains as Islamism in Egypt is on the rise, aggressively.

Do they belong to the US and Europe? No, even in their villas and luxury vehicles they are nothing but aliens there, aliens in ghettos, ghettos that are getting bigger, but that’s another discussion.

The Brothers and Sisters belong to the scriptures of their elders, they are what they believe in and what they understand, which is an impressive achievement. The ability to uproot an individual from the songs they love, the movies they watch, and the things they do, their culture, and embed them in a set of books and disciplines influenced by the dream of the caliphate -what the Brotherhood did in Egypt- is nothing to ignore.

Islamists, and to some extent Muslims in general, don’t believe in live and let live. Because they still take the Quran and Islamic faith literally, Islamic supremacy exists as a dream, Islamists don’t just occupy a place, they attempt to assimilate its elements. One of the biggest problems Europe, and the US to some degree, will have to confront is the idea of legislation based on the Quran and Sunnah -different groups want different versions-, which is entrenched in the minds of Muslims who see salvation and justice in it.

Nietzsche’s and Sartre’s Europe will face the catholic church with a Quran.


The Saudi Party In Egypt

There is a creeping sense of loyalty to Saudi Arabia in the words of some Egyptians fascinated by the Saudi experiment, or what they perceive is the Saudi experiment, or experience. They seem to confuse the divinity of the holy place known as Kaaba with the country built around it, some even proclaim the oil underneath Saudi Arabia is a blessing from God himself. The Islamic identity is not Egyptian in nature, neither is the Christian doctrine, those are foreign cultures, but Egyptians now choose to identify themselves as Muslims or Christians, making the Egyptian identity foreign, the Pharaohs are like the Romans to us. For a pilgrim spending only two weeks there, Saudi Arabia is perfect, organized, religious, and wealthy, and we recently got to know Egyptians are not madly concerned with freedom in speech or arts, they lean towards Islamic conservatism.

I do not know whether the Egyptians who raised the Saudi flags in Tahrir Square — on the anniversary of regaining a piece of our land, Taba, with legal and diplomatic dexterity after rigorous negotiations– were paid by the state or did that on their own, but the Saudi influence on the Egyptian Administration is very evident and some Egyptians love it. In fact, those Egyptians, including our entire government, volunteered to campaign in favor of handing Saudi Arabia two islands we fought for and had soldiers on without a diplomatic fight, two islands the Saudis never laid one finger on, Tiran and Sanafeer.

But the Saudi flag began swaying over Egypt in the eighties when girls began covering their heads and families began consulting with sheiks on the right and wrong ways of entering the bathroom. Oil money did a number on us.

I do not know what hurts more, the gifting of two islands, that can easily be argued to be Egyptian, to big brother Saudi Arabia in exchange for direct investments and aid packages or the Egyptians celebrating and viciously promoting the deal. It is sad how loyalty for Sisi can make someone embrace any stance on cue. One can safely say Islamists are enjoying Sisi, religious reformers are threatened, writers are scared, and Saudi Arabia is a close overbearing ally. It is becoming painfully clear that Sisi and many Egyptians only disagreed with the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood not their regressive ideas or their concept of an unchallenged obeyed leader. We are becoming more Saudi through and through, or to paraphrase Egyptian Law Professor Hossam Eissa, the Saudi party is the biggest political party in Egypt.

Groups of the protesting “left” are again sympathizing with Islamists and welcoming them with open arms as comrades in the opposition, because the Saudi seed is entrenched in our minds, the Islamic caliphate is not a barbaric idea, no, it is an ideology worthy of respect and discussion, I have met many “leftists” who, somehow, have no problem with implementing the Islamic sharia, think of American Social Justice Warriors promoting the rights of women and misogynistic Muslims simultaneously.

The Saudi ghost is hiding Egypt’s sun, and Egyptians are dancing with Saudi flags. Egypt that was when everything wasn’t, to paraphrase Egyptian Lawyer Hamdi Alasyuti.

There is gloom and there is rejection.

Clinton: Libya and Iraq are better than Egypt because they are still dynamic

Attempting to expound on her remark that Egypt is ruled by a military dictatorship, Clinton insisted the situation in Libya, Iraq, and even Syria is better than Egypt, which has fallen into political stagnation since President Sisi removed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi from power in 2013. “Libya and Iraq actually have a chance to form the future they desire because of how dynamic they are now, the terrorism and extremism and the deep-seated popular ideologies that fuel them will not hinder the efforts to transform these two great nations into modern democracies very soon,” Clinton said with a human voice.

“Egypt on the other hand, despite the fact that they have a newly-birthed democracy that might actually work and the fact that they have survived the brutal Arab Spring, is trapped in the struggles of a developing state. Yes, they have a state, but it’s boring and I don’t like it,” Clinton added.

Abul-Futuh and friends: If it’s not what we want it’s not democracy

Abul-Futuh’s Strong Egypt and El-Baradie’s El-Dostor parties never meant to take part in Egypt’s political life after June 30; they seek to drown the nascent seeds of democracy being sown into our soil. There is some truth to the reasons as to why they withdrew from the parliamentary elections, but guess what, Egypt’s government, administrative system, and presidency are not perfect, partly because perfection is relative and partly because of centuries spent in the darkness that is Islamic Fundamentalism. Life does not meticulously obey our needs and desires, life is not fair, the front men of these two parties should know that, and maybe they do, maybe they have other goals.

Political pundits often pester “opposition” parties like Strong Egypt and El-Dostour for their inability to win more than a few parliament seats. However, there are other players on their teams who do not give a flaccid rat’s penis about the parliament. Withdrawing from the parliamentary elections is derecognizing the out-of-womb Egyptian democratic system and, in part, derecognizing the state. As it happens, there are two groups on the scene not playing by the rules.

Terrorists aside, Muslim Brotherhood elements in the cities are a constant source of migraine for both the people and state. Whether they are planting bombs in random areas, attacking policemen, or protesting with firearms to implicate the Interior Ministry in  murdering one of their own or a passerby, they are rogue players blatantly working against the Egyptian state.

The second group is the protesting youths. They do not believe in gradual reformation, their answer is always radical swift change. Egyptians have become aware of the perils of radical changes after witnessing the devastation and destructive division in neighboring countries. Those rebels are also entitled. An alarmingly big number of Egyptian politically active young men and women firmly believe they deserve a good paying job upon graduation regardless of their qualifications or the job market’s demand. Yes, the public sector dream job is still alive and well here. When they do not get the job, they become bitter. Failing to see the road of hard work to a good job, frustration and despair take over their minds, and they are young, they ooze energy, energy channeled to the illegal protests that always end in clashes with police forces and death, anarchy. The latest tragedy was not even a protest; football hooligans known as “Ultras” have attempted to break into a stadium to watch a game without buying tickets to create chaos. 

Strong Egypt and El-Dostour parties are painting an anti-state image in the political scene to mirror the angry youths’ disbelief in the present Egyptian order. To what end? I have no idea, but I do know this, without a state there is neither democracy nor a good-paying job.

Yet still, there are good men willing to lend a hand to our fledgling democracy. Renowned filmmaker Khaled Yusuf is running for parliament, even as an extreme opposing voice, his like are gains for Egypt. “I thought it’s time I stopped pontificating on satellite channels and did something,” Yusuf said.

We need this Do-Something attitude.

UPDATE: 2017, Sisi has eneded any semblance of political activity in Egypt.