Among the members of the Brotherhood there are disagreements regarding how much they should influence the culture in Egypt through legislation by the parliament: will they force the high school girls, especially if they are not religious, to cover their heads? Will they permit the Salafi girls to come to school with their faces covered with a niqab, a practice from which the girls of the Brotherhood are exempt? Must the Brotherhood try to encourage the rehabilitation of tourism for the livelihood that it provides for millions of Egyptians, or must they limit it because of the negative influence of tourists upon the morals of youth of Egypt (both male and female)?
A question related to this is the question of whether to impose Egyptian law on the Sinai Peninsula, which has become a sanctuary for homeless jihadis the world over. Only for the sake of comparison: Egypt does not impose Egyptian law and order upon the 350,000 Bedouins who live in Sinai, just as Israel does not impose the laws of planning and building on the Bedouin residents who live in the area between Be’er Sheva, Arad and Dimona.
But the most severe questions are in the arena of security and internal governance: What would a regime ruled by the Brotherhood do about demonstrations against it when people will crowd into al-Tahrir Square? Will it allow demonstrations for democracy and the right of expression to be held, or will it scatter them with the claim that the parliament (with an Islamist majority) is the only legitimate arena for the clarification of political questions? Will the Brotherhood try to establish a coalition of powers with the liberal groups and with the remnants of the Mubarak regime, as an expression of the nationalist idea that all the Egyptians are brothers in the homeland, or perhaps they will prefer the Islamist view that sees secular people as the ideological enemy? Another important issue is that of the Copts: will the Brotherhood see the Christian Copts as brothers in the homeland in the civil and nationalist way or perhaps they will see them rather as those who have “strayed from the straight path” (Qur’an, Chapter 1, Verse 7), who eat pork and drink wine. The Copts have already reached this conclusion: ever since the Brotherhood won the elections to parliament a half year ago, tens of thousands of Copts have emigrated from Egypt.
The artists of Egypt – writers, poets, playwrights, film makers, photographers, graphic artists, and sculptors – and many intellectuals as well, fear mightily for their freedom of creativity and expression in Egypt under the rule of the Brotherhood. There are those among them who have already found themselves safer places than Egypt to create, where they will not be limited by the red lines of Islam.
The Foreign Arena
The peace agreement with Israel is a point of contention among the Brotherhood, because – on one hand – everyone sees Israel as an illegitimate entity and all agree that the peace treaty with Israel gives it a “life insurance policy,”,which is not acceptable. But on the other hand, everyone understands that it would not be acceptable to the international community to cancel a political agreement that was signed more than a generation ago and has international backing, and this might show Egypt to be an outlaw state, and the Brotherhood as political novices.
Strangely, Egypt, under the leadership of the Brotherhood, might actually become involved in a severe conflict with Saudi Arabia. For the past fifteen years, Saudi Arabia has been exporting its Hanibali-Wahhabi messages to Egypt. And it is this ideology which represents the main ideological threat to the Brotherhood, especially if they do not succeed in extracting the millions of unemployed Egyptians from the despair into which they have recently sunk. The black money that the Salafis smuggled out from Saudi Arabia to Egypt was put to good use in funding their efforts to present themselves as an alternative to the Brotherhood in the unplanned neighborhoods. The Saudi satellite channels served many Egyptian viewers as a source of influence as to their world view, which is totally different from the way of the Brotherhood. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is an important source of loans and grants to the Egyptian government, which makes it possible for Egypt to continue to operate without going bankrupt. But Saudi money doesn’t come without strings attached, and the Brotherhood will need to weigh well how it will relate to the Wahhabi kingdom.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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