Campaigning for all (including Islamists)
Campaigning for all (including Islamists)
Saturday, March 22,2008 09:30
By Antony Loewenstein

My friend Elijah Zarwan, a New Yorker who until recently was a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Cairo, writes about the Muslim Brotherhood, its treatment at the hands of the US-backed dictatorships and the universality of human rights:

Let me be clear: I don’t support the Muslim Brotherhood. I’m fundamentally opposed to their platform, and I distrust their new discourse of freedom and democracy. Even its most vocal proponents, impressive people like Abd al-Moneim Mahmud, see it as a means to an end. It’s embarrassing watching a Brother, even one from the "moderate, reformist" trend, trying to wiggle out of a direct question about Shia Muslims, Copts in positions of power, women, or gays. But I’m equally opposed to the government’s treatment of them on moral and practical grounds.

I also keep coming back to this detail of the weeping State Security officer bringing sweets for Khairat al-Shatir’s grandchildren. It’s things like this that make Egypt’s autocracy more livable than Tunisia’s, say, or Syria’s. I’m reminded of the prosecutor who joked with a young Brotherhood-affiliated student picked up at a 2006 protest in support of judicial independence when the student denied having insulted the president.

"Ya Mohammed," he asked, telling the clerk to stop writing, "When you’re sitting with your friends, you don’t insult the president?"
"OK, yeah, I do."
"Me too," he laughed, and told the clerk to start taking notes again.