7 Conclusion (Cornelis Hulsman) in:

Cornelis Hulsman (Ed.)

From Ruling to Opposition, page 179 - 182

Islamist Movements and Non-Islamist Groups in Egypt 2011-2013

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3837-6, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6739-0,

Series: Anwendungsorientierte Religionswissenschaft, vol. 9

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
7 Conclusion (Cornelis Hulsman) When we started interviewing political actors at the end of 2012 the Islamist electoral successes were still fresh. Their fortunes, however, dramatically changed in 2013. We have included the first months after the removal of Egypt's first Islamist president and thus all chapters dealt with the transition from Islamist rule to a non-Islamist rule of Egypt. Islamists were deeply disappointed and angry that they were not able to achieve their "Islamic Project," realizing the implementation of Shari 'a and creating a utopian Islamic state that would ultimately unite Egypt and other Muslim countries. Eline Kasanwidjojo described the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization with a history of grassroots preaching and social work, political activism and at times involvement in violent actions. The Brotherhood has been internally divided on whether to remain focused on da 'wa and social work or whether to become more politically involved. The January 25 Revolution had deeply weakened the Egyptian state and created for them a better climate for political involvement. The Muslim Brotherhood entered the Revolution with a strong hierarchical organization with a largely secretive membership in which the organization took care of the families of members who were arrested or killed. With this hierarchical system they were almost able to act as an army, with directives given from top to down. The successes in the Parliamentary elections of December 2011-January 2012 made them bolder resulting in many secret members becoming known." The process to constructively 'Islam ize' the society seemed (in that period) to be secured," Kasanwidjojo writes. Muslim Brotherhood leadership was focused on achieving their ideals of building an Islamic state and in the process of doing so turned non-Islamist political actors against them. Leaders did not show much of an effort toward consensus building during their rule and neither did they show much readiness to compromise after they lost power. This Muslim Brotherhood's secretive system was never fully dismantled and thus when Mursi was deposed and the higher level leaders were ar rested or escaped second echelon or third echelon leaders were able to di rect the people who were operating under their directives. Brotherhood members believe that their organization is able to overcome the pressures that continued to increase. Kasanwidjojo concludes that "w ith its deeprooted history, strong organization, but most of all, its strong ideology, they will certainly not concede so readily." 179 Just as the Muslim Brothers the Salafis struggled between preaching and po litical involvement. But unlike the Muslim Brothers Salafis had been mostly quietist and focused on preaching until the January 25 Revolution. Their political parties were only formed after the Revolution and were thus to a larger or smaller extent perceived as revolutionary. Quinta Smit described the subsequent struggle that resulted between preaching or religious Salafism, often with a revolutionary angle, and political Salafism that needed to be more pragmatic. Political pragmatism was often seen as contrasting with the traditional Salafi identity which would guarantee large scale sup port from the religiously conservative Egyptian masses. Of all Salafi political parties al-Nür Party turned out to be the largest and most pragmatic. They have made concessions and alliances that have cost it support, but that also protected their legitimate position in the political are na. Prior to the June 30 protests they sided with the parties asking for Mursi's downfall. As a consequence they were not banned and played a role in the 2013 Constituent Assembly that formed Egypt's new Constitu tion. Jayson Casper described the process from violence to nonviolence and par ticipation in politics of the al-Jamä 'a al-Islämiyya. The forced removal of the pro-Mursi sit-ins in August 2013 led to a wave of burning Coptic property including tens of churches. Al-Jamä 'a al-Islämiyya, just as several Muslim Brotherhood leaders, distanced itself from the attacks, condem-ning them completely. Their denials were, however, suspected by many. "If many doubted their true intentions during a period of openness, these are likely to increase during a time of public crackdown on Islamists," Casper concluded. Casper also wrote about the jihädi Salafis who were and are primarily active in Sinai. The jihädi Salafis had no faith in participatory democracy. In the days of Mursi they were largely involved in preaching but after Mursi's removal militant resistance moved to the foreground. They were able to draw other Salafis who had little faith in democracy into their camp. Non-Islamist parties and actors were divided and weak before President Muhammad Mursi was elected. Resistance against Mursi forced them to cooperate but it was not them but Egypt's judiciary that proved to be Mursi's greatest stumble block. Calls of Minister of Defense ‘Abd al-Fattäh al-Sisi to political opponents to unite in the last months of Mursi's rule had no effect. Al- Sisi warned several times that the Egyptian state could not endure such deep divisions but neither the Brothers and their allies and their opponents showed much readiness to come to consensus. Nicholas Gjorvad showed that many non-Islamists are in fact religious but they believe the use of religion "in politics is not only damaging to the po 180 litical process, but can also corrupt the sanctity of religion." Non-Islamists were to a large extent affirming the need to keep the reference to the Shari 'a as the source for legislation in the Constitution. They, however, also "have been insistent that freedom of all people is fundamental to their belief and that their ideologies are inclusive of non-Muslims and those following Shi 'i Islam." Non-Islamist parties and movements believed in 2013 that time was on their side, banking on a widespread resistance in the Egyptian population against the Islamist policies during Mursi. Will this anti-Islamist antipathy remain? For this to happen non-Islamists will need to show that they can bring economic progress to the country in which large numbers of Egyptians will be able to participate. Despite major efforts this has thus far not yet materialized. Islamists are well aware that Egypt's weak economy is the Achilles heel of the al- Sisi government and thus efforts have been made to undermine recovery.706 The removal of president Mursi by force has undermined the legitimacy of the transfer of power, in particularly in the eyes of Islamists. Muslim Broth ers have contributed to this through their lack of consensus building and refusal to call for new elections prior to Mursi's removal. Instead they were organizing counter demonstrations and sit-ins, digging themselves in for a removal that, due to deepening tensions, was bound to happen. Following the removal of Mursi, they continued the large sit-ins with fiery preachers whose inflammatory speeches, which called for rejection of the interim government, were broadcasted. Neither the sit-ins, nor the violent removal of the sit-ins have contributed to efforts to seek consensus. The consequence of Mursi's forced removal and lack of consensus was that large numbers of Islamists have lost faith in democracy. Others became involved in militant attacks, in particular on what they see as their greatest enemies: police, mili tary and the judiciary. Egypt has, since the removal of president Mursi, seen continuous violence that resulted in harsh government responses. A Muslim Brotherhood leader who wished to remain anonymous told me on August 7 2014, that there was no contact between the Brotherhood and the Gov ernment of Egypt. He predicted that Egypt's economy would not recover which in turn would undermine this government. 181

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In 2013, a group of researchers had the unique chance to interview 61 Egyptian Islamists and their opponents both prior to and after Egypt’s military ousted President Mursī on July 3. Up to that time, Islamists with very different political perspectives were hopeful that they would be able to realize the implementation of sharīa and to create a utopian Islamic state. After the coup, many of them rejected the transformation and a number became involved in militant attacks on police, military and the judiciary. This resulted in harsh government responses. Their criticism has been muted, but they still exist. The interviews document authentic voices during this period of major political transformations. A must read for anyone who wants to understand contemporary Egypt.