Written by Faith Natunga
The Brotherhood Misfires! Yet Again
The current crisis in Egypt has polarised not just the country but the debate on democracy.
One side perceiving the action by the army as undemocratic and only likely to fuel the supposedly conservative terrorist arm of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the other in favour of a second revolution with the army yet again on their side. Both sides miss a crucial point; the source of this crisis and the solution all lie in the political tragedy of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is critical at this point what direction the brotherhood takes and this path should be chosen not with arrogance but looking to the future of the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political party.
The Muslim brotherhood in Egypt was from the start fighting an uphill battle. The movement having begun in Egypt in 1928 did not make a political footprint there; this was due to the political persecution of its members and tainted image from supporting acts of terrorism within and outside Egypt; all factors contributing to its lack of popular support. When the philosophy spread to other parts of the Arab world it became synonymous with Sharia law, terrorism and anti Western sentiments. The brotherhood in Egypt was however not a stagnant movement, the violent past was not winning it any support from the population; a move to politicise the movement and join the political process had been going on for some time and with Mubarak out of the way it was their time to capture the momentum of Egyptian politics, and the Arab world.
Winning by 51% was in no way a green light to make radical reforms. The fact that they went ahead to make these reforms was the first political blunder. The sweeping presidential powers and the draft constitution that was perceived by many as a move to slowly Islamise the State, suppress minority faiths and undermine secularism.
This move put a stamp on people’s fears on what to expect from a Muslim Brotherhood government; they had effectively put concrete facts on the speculative criticism that had often existed on when and if the brotherhood took power.
The massive crowds that came out against Mohammed Morsi were only the tip of the iceberg. The fall and further political demise of the brotherhood begun when they limited the powers of the Egyptian military. Power in Egypt has always been in the hands of two groups the military and the brotherhood; a move to upset that order would definitely be met by resistance and this round definitely goes to the military. Morsi set up his party for failure the moment he set up those radical reforms.
Society as a whole has moved on, the anti western sentiment is not as prevalent among young people. Unemployment and poverty are their immediate fears; an aspiration for an economically strong, educated and secular society is more appealing. They have also found a way to balance what is required of them from a religious perspective and still enjoy the secularity of a democratic system. This demographic is in the majority in Africa and it is hard to convince them to give up these freedoms when they are being offered no trade-off in terms of employment or social services.
The reaction by the brotherhood to call the people to the streets further proved that they are entirely out of tune with the global political climate. This is Africa (TIA) like most people say, political strategy is what keeps one in power not democracy. Their actions are giving legitimacy to the actions of the army. The brotherhood is not acting like a political party should; they are instead instigating acts of violence all synonymous with the stereotype that is expected of the brotherhood. The fact that the Western world did not condemn the actions of the army right from the start shows that the global political climate is not for the brotherhood. Tony Blair as quoted from the Observer “I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government. Today efficacy is the challenge.” The best strategy was to call for calm and play victim to a foul democratic process and shift the focus on the actions of the military.
This has never been a question of democracy, it’s just plain old politics. The Muslim brotherhood should at this point lick their wounds and salvage what is left of their political movement or else they lose being trusted as a legitimate political party in the future.
A call for calm and a return to order; playing a political game of victim would be the best way forward. It is unlikely that they will win any sympathy if they follow down the path of violence. This has never worked for them in the past; it will only marginalise them politically and socially like it has done in the past. They will lose all the political strides that they had gained this last year if they keep advocating for violence and more protests. Their problem is that their advisors set them up for failure; and the army sat back and waited for their poor political strategy to blow over and then they would step in under the gaze of restoring order.
Poor Political Strategy Has Serious Consequences! And it’s about time the Brotherhood stopped putting a stamp on the stereotypes, it’s not enough to cry foul, but actions speak louder than words and so far their actions have fuelled the stereotype!