Egyptian Reformist Renews attack on Muslim Brotherhood despite death threats

Egyptian Reformist Renews Attack on Muslim Brotherhood Despite Death Threats November 10, 2006 memri In a critique of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, reformist Egyptian intellectual Dr. Sayyed Al-Qimni explained why he does not believe that the movement has changed its ways and has decided to integrate into civil society. He argued that the movement assumes many guises and forms many conflicting alliances in order to further its own interests. Al-Qimni further claimed that its aim is not to serve Islam but to come to power.(1) This critique is Al-Qimni’s first article since his July 2005 announcement – which followed death threats against him by Islamic extremists – that he was retracting everything he had ever written and that he would no longer write.(2) The following are excerpts from the article: “When Did the Muslim Brotherhood Stop Accusing Civil Society of Heresy?” “The [following] statement by [Muslim Brotherhood spokesman] Dr. ‘Issam Al-‘Arian reveals how the Muslim Brotherhood is currently presenting itself in the Egyptian public arena: ‘We are now generating public pressure by means of demonstrations on the streets, in the universities and in [various] associations, and through every [other] type of civil pressure.'(3) “This kind of talk on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood is a totally new [phenomenon]. A close examination of the statement reveals that they arrogantly imagine a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian people – a disgraceful [association] which is an insult to the Egyptian people. The Muslim Brotherhood’s demonstrations cannot be characterized as ‘public pressure’ just because they involve turmoil in the streets… The truly novel fact is that Dr. Al-‘Arian presented himself and his movement as part of civil society… “When did the Muslim Brotherhood stop accusing civil society of heresy? When did it stop persecuting the supporters of civil society with accusations of treason against the homeland and with murderous rumors? All this while the Muslim Brotherhood itself does not recognize the homeland and the national flag… “If Dr. Al-‘Arian is sincere, and does not retract [his statement] or let some other member of the movement drop [contradicting] statements to confuse us, as they usually do, then I congratulate the Muslim Brotherhood. [I] welcome them upon their return to the fold of the homeland, which will forgive them in the interest of national unity… But when have they ever recognized that a Muslim has a homeland? And when have they ever recognized the flag or the national symbols? Don’t they belong to the nation of ‘There is No God but Allah’ that does not recognize the flag or the national symbols, as their leaders have always declared?” “The Muslim Brotherhood Speaks in Seven Tongues, and Says Something Different in Each of Them” “Our problem with the Muslim Brotherhood is that they do not give us a chance to trust them… Every sentence they utter speaks in seven tongues, and says something different in each of them. They are allied with everybody, from the communists to the Wafd Party, the Americans, the Nasserists, the simple and kind Egyptian people, the students, and the farmers. They are equipped with every mask they need in order to form alliances with each of these parties, and then betray these alliances if the need arises… “We do not trust the Muslim Brotherhood, since its history – unlike the history of other [movements] – shows that it has always opposed every political and economic program and every regime. Since the day it was founded, it has never been satisfied with anyone except itself, yet it has formed alliances with everybody, betrayed everybody, and opposed everybody… How can they speak of the constitution and of the need to change its content when they have always refused to recognize the constitution, claiming that it is a secular innovation?… “The Muslim Brotherhood has never spoken any other language but the language of Koranic punishments and of rigid, cruel Salafi Islamic violence. They have always been opposed to Islam that is merciful, peaceful, and beautiful, since, in their opinion, it is not Islam – the only [real] Islam and the only truth are those of the Muslim Brotherhood… “So what is this new transformation, which [Muslim Brotherhood founder] Hassan Al-Bana, and [the movement’s prominent intellectual leader] Sayyed Qutb would have never considered or accepted had they still been alive… Do the new international circumstances play a part in this transformation? Was it caused by the existence of certain forces in the region that have allied with the American leadership, and by the [American] pressure to establish democratic governments in the Islamic world? “Do you not realize that the Muslim Brotherhood is renouncing everything that it has said in the previous century and in this century, and [adopting] the political structure demanded by the U.S., which [they regard as] the Great Satan? What happened to Islam as they used to present it, and which was their reason for founding the movement? Gentlemen, [the Muslim Brotherhood is interested] not in Islam, but in gaining power, and this is why they have changed [some of their statements]… “Al-‘Arian said: ‘The Muslim Brotherhood… has declared that, before the constitution is changed, freedoms must be granted, in order to [establish] a real parliament that represents the people’s will and is elected in free and fair elections.’ Like the other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-‘Arian is interested only in the elections themselves, and not in the principles and values that underlie the elections, which are not recognized by the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, does Al-‘Arian recognize a Muslim’s right to convert to another religion? This issue is simple and obvious in every other country in the world, but here [in Egypt], it is a crime to even [raise] the question…” “Did Government Change Ever Take Place in the Islamic State? It Certainly Did  But [Only] by Means of Poison, Saber, or Sword” “The Muslim Brotherhood presents itself to the public as though it [embodies] Islam… But today, they have difficulty in reconciling their image as [the embodiment of] Islam with Western concepts such as human rights, the legislative council… election mechanisms, and freedoms, which have been introduced into our market of ideas… After September 11, and the arrival of Uncle Sam’s forces in our region, the Muslim Brotherhood decided to come to power on Uncle Sam’s terms… But how can they reconcile [the fact that Islam] is the religion of [only] one group of [those] with [the concept of] civil society, which entails equality for all citizens, without discrimination based on sect, ethnicity, or religion?… “Dr. Al-‘Arian, you who are well acquainted with Islam and its history… can you show us where ‘the people’s will’ and ‘free and fair elections’ have ever featured in the history of Islam? Can you show us where we can find the concept of freedom, except [in connection with] freeing slaves? Did the Islamic state ever hold elections in the course of its history, in the 1,400 years between its founding and its fall – which were 1,400 years of oppression, injustice, and even inhumanity and lack of compassion? Today, Dr. Al-‘Arian is speaking to us in Uncle Sam’s language and terms. He is adopting the language and Western ideas of the infidels – for which we [reformists] have always been persecuted and accused of heresy… “Al-‘Arian is now demanding to change the articles of the constitution dealing specifically with the president and his term in office… The first question that arises in this context is the following: Since when do Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood recognize the [principle] of limiting the president’s term in office? When has this [principle] ever been implemented in the Islamic state…? Caliphs ruled for life without encountering any objection… “Did government change ever take place in the Islamic state? It certainly did  but [only] by means of poison, saber or sword. What has happened to the Muslim Brotherhood? They claim that they are the only [true] Muslims… but they are demanding something that neither Islam nor the Muslims recognize. In fact, they are demanding something that is regarded in the Sunni school of thought as one of the greatest sins… “The Muslim Brotherhood must choose: It can join the democratic process – a purely civil process that has nothing to do with Islam or with any other religion, and which does not involve any sacred [concepts] but only human beings who, being human, may be either right or wrong – or it can choose to remain the Muslim Brotherhood, and [refrain from] talking to us in a [foreign] language that they themselves have rejected throughout their long history… “Did Islamic history ever know any other law but the permanent and eternal emergency law [established] during the rule of [the first caliph] Abu Bakr? Why, then, are they objecting to emergency law?… If you object to these laws, why do you not condemn their existence in Islamic history, which would have lent credibility to your objection? Or are you perhaps making declarations in which you do not [really] believe? Until now, you gentlemen have never recognized the election mechanism and have never held [elections in your movement]. Your leader holds his position for life, until his mind becomes soft with age. He controls the Muslim Brotherhood in 50 Islamic states or more, and is chosen through bay’a [an Islamic oath of allegiance] involving no more than 15 participants, [all of them] members of the [Brotherhood’s] leadership. You gentlemen [of the Muslim Brotherhood] don many confusing masks – sometimes you are Dr. Jekyll and sometimes Mr. Hyde. “This [Islamic] Rule Produced Nothing but Injustice, Lack of Freedom, and Flagrant Inequality… All in Accordance With Explicit Islamic Laws” “Al-‘Arian also referred to the Muslim Brotherhood’s initiative of participating in the reforms, and called it ‘the Muslim Brotherhood’s program for generating an Egyptian revival, based on Islamic authority, which will strive to attain the supreme goals of Islam – justice, freedom, equality, shura [advisory council] and human dignity.’ Here we have Mr. Hyde again. After declaring his belief that the state and the government must be civil [in nature], he declares that the Muslim Brotherhood wishes to attain the supreme goals of Islam. What about the supreme goals of Christianity, Shi’a, secularism and atheism?… “As for the claim that [the principles of] justice, freedom, equality, shura and human dignity were realized in the course of Islamic history, under a rule that purported to be Islamic – this never occurred even once, except in theoretical pronouncements… This [Islamic] rule produced nothing but injustice, lack of freedom, and flagrant inequality, with discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs, men and women, ruler and subject, master and slave – all in accordance with explicit Islamic laws. Will Al-‘Arian [manage to] implement in Islam something that even the Righteous Caliphs, and all the other caliphs, were unable to implement in 14 centuries?…” Endnotes: (1) , April 3, 2006. (2) For more on Al-Qimni’s withdrawal from public life, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 254, “Arab Intellectuals: Under Threat by Islamists,” November 23, 2005, (3) Al-Wafd (Egypt), December 4, 2005,