Thursday, July 11, 2013

Justifying Military Actions Against the Muslim Brotherhood

There are many Egyptians today that claim any killing of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood is justified because they are religious extremists. Nothing can be further from the truth. Although there are many complaints about how the Muslim Brotherhood governed the nation, the entire course of their one-year political history cannot provide any conclusion as to whether or not they were the best or worst decision made by the people of Egypt. The only fact on the ground that can be confirmed is that they were the first free democratically elected party in Egypt’s long history.

Many who followed the political progress over the last year had legitimate claims over their poorly organised conduct in cleaning up the country, especially with regards to a lack of short term "wins" in the hearts and minds of citizens. This included dealing with sanitation, fuel & petrol, traffic conditions and many others. Although expecting to pass judgement on a party after one year in office to clean a 30-year mess may be a little premature, no one can deny that there were urgent matters that could have been resolved to keep the people of Egypt satisfied in knowing that the wheels were indeed in motion. It's all about the PR campaign and how you sell yourself to your clients, and in this case the Brotherhood's clients were the people who elected them into office in the first place.

That being said, there were also many who didn't follow the political progress over the last year. Rather they occupied their time with a myriad of false accusations and rumours that left us wondering whether or not Egyptians were capable of distinguishing between a devout Muslim and an extremist. Ill-informed claims posted on Facebook and Twitter flooded feeds with noise louder than that of the parliamentary debates, and it reached levels of ignorance and even bigotry.

The Muslim brotherhood is simply a membership club, comparable to an Australian RSL club. Some claim that one in every ten Egyptian is an "Ikhwani" (of the Brotherhood). That includes women & men, bearded men & shaven men, members who dress in the traditional Islamic garments or wear suits & ties. They are doctors, lawyers, taxi drivers, teachers, and Islamic scholars. They are regular people who are part of an Islamic group; much like the Islamic Egyptian Society is an Islamic group in Australia (only that their numbers aren't large enough to contest a seat in parliament). The only thing that makes them stand out as an Islamic organisation is that they are comprised of practicing Muslims who simply pray their five obligatory prayers daily and read the Quran regularly rather than having it left on a shelf as an historic ornament. That is primarily the only thing that differentiates them from anyone else who earnestly rejects the concept of having the political scene flooded by "Islamists"; dubiously named as though it were a movement like Communist, Fascist or any other “-ist” that could instill fear in the "moderate" populous of society. Apart from their duties, devout Muslims still go out on weekends, they watch TV, and celebrate birthdays. More importantly, they reject hard-line Sharia-run countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran; just like anyone else in Egypt considered moderate. It is concerning that people like the Muslim brotherhood are attacked not for their political direction, but for being extremists simply because they prefer their religion as priority over their culture. Nothing more.

Any Islamic group that enters the political scene is immediately attacked with non-constructive criticism such that the following statements begin spreading throughout social networks like wildfire: "Just wait until they force all women to wear the Burka"; "They are going to knock down the Sphinx because they think idols are prohibited"; "They will close all the beaches because they don't like bikinis"; "Look at that bearded man on TV; he thinks he is a Sheikh trying to be an expert in politics"; And worst of all: "The army killed them? Good riddens!"

As a practicing Muslim, I am saddened to hear such anti-Islamic sentiment sweeping Egypt far worse than any discrimination I've ever experienced here in Western society.