Burden of Proof is on Muslim Brotherhood Skeptics
|Thursday, October 25,2007 21:53|
|By Khaled Salam|
Marc Lynch, associate professor at GWU, and Abdel Monem Said Aly, director of Al Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, spoke at the Brandies University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies about the Middle East politics and the MB. The speeches were followed by further discussion on Marc Lynch’s blog "Abu Aardvark".
The ongoing debate about the MB political platform by its opponents and supporters is clear evidence that releasing the draft version to prominent political thinkers and intellectuals did achieve its intended goals by stimulating a healthy discussion about the MB political agenda. Therefore, I hope that the final version will be different and it will be a reflection of the Muslim Brotherhood’s "true face".
However, Marc Lynch and Abdel Monem Said Aly’s characterization that "the MB a divided organization struggling to define its goals and its strategies in the face of both internal disagreements" is misleading. When members of the MB speak their minds and publicly express their different views; it should not be interpreted as division but rather freedom of expression in action within the MB, which, in contrast, reflects the group’s internal strength. The main threat the MB is facing is not its internal disagreements but It is the injustice, oppression and corruption sanctioned and practiced by the Egyptian regime which is damaging the country, hampering its capabilities as well as breeding extremism and violence in the region.
Dr. Abdel Monem Said Aly’s skepticism of the MB is without any merit. The Brothers’ actions speak louder than their words. For many years, they were elected to students’ unions, professional syndicates, and even parliament, but when the government of the National Democratic Party-of which Dr. Aly is a member-forcefully and unjustly removed them through fraudulent elections or in some cases no elections at all, yet the Brothers peacefully relinquished control in these places without clinging to power and never in a single incident had any member of the MB been engaged in any act of violence
As much as the MB is capable of shaking the ground beneath the regime, nonetheless the Brothers always put the country’s interests first and refrained from any actions that would threaten the country’s security and stability.
Dr. Aly speaks of the MB performance in Parliament as an example of their totalitarianism citing examples of Baha’is, Muslims converted to Christianity and Higab. I am not sure exactly what he was referring to, but I would like to remind him that the ruling party which he represents has one the worst records of religious freedom as documented by the US State department. It is Egyptian interior ministry, not the MB, which refuses to provide legal status for converts from Islam to Christianity, and vice versa, and refuses to amend their civil records to reflect their new religion status. The MB believes that people are free to practice the religion of their choice as the Quran teaches us. It is also the Egyptian government which does not recognize the Baha’i faith causing tremendous hardships for these citizens. In April of 2006, the Egyptian government opposed an administrative court ruling which would have allowed Baha’i’s citizens to receive ID cards and birth certificates with religion noted on the documents.
It is also the Egyptian government, not the MB, which continues to prosecute the Shiite Muslims in Egypt and arrest their leaders as in the case of Ramadan Hussein el Derini who was arrested and repeatedly tortured in prison by the powerful State Security Investigators (SSI). The MB would not prosecute Shiite Muslims and would not prohibit them from practicing their rituals.
On the issue of Hejab (Islamic head cover for women), I believe Dr. Aly is referring to the incident when Minister of Culture Farouk Hosny was condemned in parliament for his insinuating remarks describing Hejab "a step backward". At that time, many prominent members of the ruling NDP including Speaker Fathi Soror, in addition to several of MPs from the MB, criticized Mr. Farouk Hosny and some even called for his resignation. The MPs were expressing the views of many angry citizens in their constituencies who were offended by Mr. Hosny’s remarks. Therefore, I am not clear as what the source of criticism for the MB in this case really is.
It is also absurd that Dr. Aly tries to downplay the government’s fierce assault on the MB and its economic infrastructure arguing that it is not as massive as it was during the Nasserite era when several of MB leaders were executed, or in the magnitude of the 1982 massacre in Hama in which Syrian president Hafez al Assad slaughtered 10-25 thousands of the Muslim Brothers! I am not exactly sure what to make of this argument or what kind of message it is sending, but I guess the MB should feel lucky that it is only 40 of its members were sent to military tribunals and several hundred others are in jail. It is not a "big deal" that dozens of companies were shut down, millions of dollars in assets were either frozen or stolen and hundreds of families were suddenly left without support, income and their loved ones. Above all, they should be grateful they are alive!
Dr. Aly’s numerous unsubstantiated statements about the MB makes me wonder if his political affiliation with the ruling NDP as member of its well connected Policies Committee is undermining his ability to remain an impartial academician and objective researcher. In this regard, I would like to ask him to provide us with the evidence so far, not just his views, that the MB is not genuinely democratic and incites hatred of others, as he claims.
I believe that the MB has behaved remarkably under extreme oppression by the regime and unjust emergency laws which have been crippling the country for over 26 years and depriving citizens from their very basic human rights. The burden of proof should not be the MB to prove its democratic credentials but instead is on opponents to prove otherwise.
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