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The Islamists’ political obsession

Finally, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newborn is here. The Shura Council is back, alive and kicking. The Council that hung by a thread for months waiting for a court ruling to be dissolved is now the legitimate legislative authority. Once again, the Brotherhood succeeds. With complete disregard to laws, norms, opposition and national interest, the Muslim …


Ziad Akl
Ziad Akl

Finally, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newborn is here. The Shura Council is back, alive and kicking. The Council that hung by a thread for months waiting for a court ruling to be dissolved is now the legitimate legislative authority. Once again, the Brotherhood succeeds.

With complete disregard to laws, norms, opposition and national interest, the Muslim Brotherhood manages one more time to force its self-consumed political will on Egypt. And according to that will, the president stood one more time to take one more oath (maybe a fourth or a fifth, I lost count) before the new celebrated child of the guidance bureau. Ironically, it now seems that the ones who benefited the most from the court ruling that dissolved the parliament last summer are the Muslim Brotherhood.

The attitude and performance of all Islamic political actors in Egypt over the past six months since Morsy took office shows important signs. Islamists, Brotherhood or Salafis or others, seem to have among their many obsessions, an obsession with numerical majority. It’s as if this majority is their own version of a modern day Jihad. Just like any obsessive behaviour, the obsessed can’t stop thinking or talking about their obsession. Islamists in Egypt today are just like that; they somehow bring up the issue of numerical majority in whichever occasion possible.

Their obsessive condition became much worse as soon as they started to interpret numbers with their very own logic, which always defied the pure reason behind statistics. For the Islamists, number could mean anything. So a 64 per cent could mean yes to Islamic Shari’a, or it could mean support for the president’s policies, or it could mean down with the revolution; who cares?

Numerical majority to the Islamists is an abstract number that could mean whatever they want it to mean. This obsessive relationship with majority is exactly how the laws of Egypt will be drafted under the new constitution.

But recently I keep asking myself every time I observe Islamists, do they really believe themselves? I mean, when they are away from television cameras and portable recorders, do they believe that this Council is actually a reflection of the people’s will and an agent of democratic change? It is common for the obsessed to be in denial.

The Islamists figure that the Shura Council is assuming responsibilities designated by the new constitution, which the people gave a 64 per cent “Yes” vote. The majority here, according to the Islamists, means that people agree to the new legislative functions that the Council is supposed to fulfill in the absence of a parliament. Indeed the political meaning of the 64 per cent has nothing to do with the Shura Council. However, the real problem is not in the percentage.

Even if the constitution was passed with a 90 per cent “Yes” vote, does that change the fact that when people elected the 180 elected members of the Council, they did not elect them to legislate or to replace the parliament? If the function of the institution changes, that means that the citizen will perceive that institution differently and the difference in perception will most likely mean a difference in choice of representation. The person I choose to represent me in consultation is not necessarily the same person I will choose to represent me in legislation.

What’s even more striking is the president’s decision to appoint 90 members of the Council, which is one third of the members. If the president is so eager to act according to the new constitution, and the Brotherhood is so keen to have the Shura Council assume its new authorities according to the new constitution, why is it then that the number of the appointed members was not chosen according to the new constitution as well? According to the new constitution, the president is allowed to appoint 10 per cent of the elected members.

The obsessive behaviour of the Muslim Brotherhood over the Shura Council proves that what they expect from this Council is a lot. It is indeed a golden opportunity for the Islamists because no election (even rigged or manipulative ones) could have secured that percentage for the Islamists in any legislative Council.

This vulgar and non-representative numerical majority will most likely be used to pass an election law that guarantees the presence of Islamists in any parliament with a majority. While debates over election law take place, Islamists are likely to pass other laws like a demonstration and protest law or censorship related laws.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists can celebrate the Shura Council as much as they want. It is likely that a propaganda campaign is coming very soon to show everyone the Brotherhood’s version of democracy. But what Islamists must know is that legitimacy is not gained through parliamentary seats, political offices and tainted elections. Legitimacy is built on principles and national consensus. Having the ability to act does not legitimise authority it simply reinforces it.

The struggle against the Islamic power-hungry domination continues, as it is, a struggle of principles vs. political obsession.

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