Sick of terrorism, Copts convert to Islam to experience its peace

In the wake of the latest terrorist attack on Egyptian Copts, where gunmen stopped their vehicle, ordered them out, and executed them on site, dozens of Copts have converted to Islam hoping to experience the Islamic peacefulness and tolerance they have always heard about but never witnessed.  

“It was time we got a taste of that sweet Islamic peace,” M.K.L. told our reporter minutes after performing his first Asr prayer, “it feels really good, Muslims are now accepting of my beliefs and I’m free to pray wherever and whenever I want, we can even build new mosques with great ease, as a Christian, I couldn’t do that,” he added with a look that either reflected satisfaction or faked it.

But being a Muslim does not mean full protection from Islamic terrorism. The Takfiri ideology justifies labeling Muslims who don’t practice Islam strictly, according to particular fundamentalist texts, as infidels and allows killing them. For now, however, these new Muslims are enjoying some peace of mind, and you can tell they needed it. 

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?!!

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.

Distinguishing between Islamism and Radical Islam

The word Islamism, which means Islam as a religion and a constitution for a state, is a fairly recent word in the Arabic language, because Islam began as religion and a constitution. Islam is not just a spiritual code of ethics, it is the law, and that’s what most Muslims in the Middle East and a big portion of Muslims in Europe (2) believe. Islam was divinely revealed to Muhammad in a cave, but it expanded under the guarding sword of a magnanimous army not via word of mouth, as the tradition dictated one thousand years ago. Needless to say, Islam is not a body that can enforce anything, Islam’s rule means men of god acting as demigods with the power to turn any citizen into a witch to be hunted and eliminated. Modern states should never have rulers endowed with divine authority.

Radical Islam, on the other hand, describes an unforgiving and fundamentalist or literal understanding of Islam, ranging from Saudi Arabia and Iran to ISIS, however, even the most moderate group of Muslims understands Islam is a state not just a set of beliefs and practices. Under the Islamic mantra, citizens from all over the world can be recruited to fight under Islam’s flag as it overrules allegiance to geographical countries.

The UAE, which is not an Islamist state by any means, every now and then surprises us with the prosecution of a man for a gay handshake and a couple for sexting.

When defending the peacefulness and modernity of Islam after a terror attack, the apologists often forget they are upholding their own interpretation of thousands of pages of ancient texts, some of which are very ambiguous like the Quran itself.

Apologists might tell you there are strict rules for engaging in jihad and Muslims must be transgressed upon first, ISIS argues the mere existence of the West and the morals and principles it stands for constitute war on Islam’s core beliefs. In fact, recent advances by the Iraqi army against ISIS were viewed negatively by Sunni Arabs because the fighting forces include large numbers of Shiites and Kurds, that’s how sensitive they are.

A modern state in a Muslim majority country will require a shift in perceiving what Islam is; transforming Islam from a state system to be imposed on citizens by men of god to a personal belief system is no easy task.


Discussing Islamic Terrorism Without Getting Bogged Down in “Not all Muslims are terrorists”

  1. Are all Muslims extremists?
    No. Racist and gross.

    2) Does the Quran instigate against non-Muslims?
    Yes, some Quranic verses are very hostile towards non-Muslims while others promote tolerance and compassion, both types of verses exist. The Quran is not a physics book, it’s a collection of teachings, regulations, stories, and some whimsical poetry collected around 1000 years ago from the minds of those who had memorized it during Prophet Muhammad’s life some one hundred years earlier.

    3) Were the verses promoting hatred of non-Muslims meant for particular circumstances or a specific period?
    No, it is totally up to the reader how these verses should be interpreted.

    4) Can a Muslim declare there is a war against Islam and recruit soldiers for jihad?
    Yes, an argument could be made that the current western culture, particularly freedom of sexual practices and freedom from religion, violates the core beliefs of Islam. Western military interference in Muslim areas also constitutes an argument.

    5) Are Muslims pushing for more tolerant readings of the Quran?
    On the contrary, as Muslims find their religion and culture growing more and more irrelevant and inapplicable in today’s globalized world they either become seculars, the minority, or stick to more fundamentalist religious readings.

    6) The Islamic culture is the synthesis of:
    Texts (Quran and Hadith)
    Interpretation, how these texts are understood.
    Implementation, which leads to:
    A) Terrorism
    B) A long term strategy to spread Islamism, sometimes without seeking political power like the Salafists in Egypt.
    C) Passive secularism, not abiding by Islam’s regulations.
    D) Active secularism, pushing for separation of mosque and state while fighting Islamism in society.

    7) Islamism is Islam as a religion and a constitution from which principal and daily regulations are derived, i.e., sharia law in action.

    8) For Europe to remain Europe, the principles of freedom of speech, expression, and thought must be upheld. Kowtowing to Islamism will lead to more societal deformation and the occasional bomb. Islamists cannot be appeased; they seek to rule one way or another. Islamists in suits can never control terrorists, terrorists are rogue, violent individuals convinced there are brides waiting for them in a palace in heaven.


Azhar vows to limit bomb-planting to students 

Azhar has pledged in a statement on its website to keep bomb-planting strictly at the level of students, promising no more teachers will be caught with bombs or directly implicated in acts of terrorism.

An Azhari female teacher attempted to sneak 16 bombs/IEDs to Azhar campus, Thursday, in her car in daylight through one of the main gates. 

“To see teachers getting involved in the bomb-planting business was an extremely great shock to Azhar’s administration, we will work tirelessly to prevent this from ever happening again, we will also try to stop Azhar students from being loyal Muslim Brotherhood supporters and foot soldiers,” Azhar’s Representative Abbas Shuman, who happens to be a Muslim Brother and ardent Mursi fan, told our reporter. 

Azhar is predominately run by Muslim Brotherhood men and its curricula contain explicit chapters on Jihad, it has only recently removed chapters on eating apostates and those who refrain from praying grilled and raw, respectively, from its books.

On an issue related to eating, Azhar’s former grand mufti Ali Gomaa has linked porn to atheism. Porn teaches viewers that bodies are a product to be used, which causes atheism, Gomaa said in a TV show where Islam speaks through him to advise people on daily and life issues. 

Gomaa is regarded as one of the saner ones. 

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.