Opposition movements usually get public support and encouragement from the masses because they challenge a corrupt and oppressive regime. This public support is what brings the opposition movement to power, either by democratic means or by violence. At first, the public is content because it it sure that its preferred movement, which used to be the opposition, will behave fairly and democratically towards the public when it comes to power. But the moment the opposition movement gets to sit behind the steering wheel it becomes a controlling elite, and it is now responsible for imposing law and order on the residents. It is also expected to supply all of the public’s needs – food, drinking water, employment, health services, infrastructure, and a hope that their situation in the future will be better than in the past.
The tragedy that opposition movements frequently experience is that they often lack the skills necessary to manage a state. This is because during the period while they were engaged in the struggle to wrest power from the previous regime, they were not building up the experience they would need in order to rule effectively. But once they are in power, they must provide solutions for problems that were created, for the most part, by the previous regime. And when the new regime needs to levy taxes and impose discipline on the residents, the citizens begin to see it the same way as the previous regime that was overthrown by the opposition. Since the new regime usually does not have magic solutions for the population’s problems, it finds itself, after a short time, a regime with dwindling legitimacy, especially if its leaders exploit the privilege of their position. Power, as we all know, corrupts.
This deterministic development is playing out before our eyes everywhere that Islamist movements have come into power. This is how it is in Iran, in Gaza, in Tunisia, and lately in Egypt. President Morsi and the whole Muslim Brotherhood movement along with him are confronted with ever worsening problems, and next Sunday, the 30th of June, 2013, on the anniversary of Morsi’s ascendancy to the presidency, very large demonstrations are planned, to protest the Muslim Brotherhood’s appropriation of the revolution, which was begun by liberal, modern, secular youths who did not want Mubarak, but wanted the Brotherhood even less.
During Morsi’s year, Egypt has quickly slid into several extremely problematic swamps. One of them is the Shi’ite-Sunni conflict, which got a shot in the arm from the bloody events in the Syrian town of al-Qusayr, which the Shi’ite Hezbollah took from the Sunni rebels, committing acts of great cruelty and brutally trampling on the human rights of the citizens who were besieged inside of al-Qusayr. On Thursday, June 20, a large conference of the greatest Sunni religious authorities was held in Cairo. At this conference, harsh criticism was voiced regarding acts perpetrated by Shi’ites, especially in Syria. Sunni sheikhs threaten to slaughter the Hezbollah fighters because they – being Shi’ite – are infidels. President Morsi publicly declared the end of diplomatic ties between Egypt and Syria, the closing of the embassy in Damascus and the return of Egyptian diplomats from the capital of Syria.
But this phenomenon is not limited to Syria; it has also spread to Egypt. On Sunday, June 23, a group of Salafists broke into the house of Hassan Shehata, the head of the small Shi’ite community of Egypt, in the village of Zawiyat Abu Musallam near Giza, slaughtering him together with four more members of his community. Nine others were injured in the event. Egypt was shocked to its foundations for a number of reasons, primarily because of the Salafists’ audacity, who think in seventh century terms and behave according to principles and modes of behavior that were common 1400 years ago. They present a challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood rule, which is based on the application of Islam in the modern, current world, not on the desire to return to square one of Islamic history. Many Egyptians fear that their country will slide into a condition similar to the boiling swamps which are Syria and Iraq, and they view the slaughter as a horrific event and one that might happen again, next time to the Copts or anyone else who has political objections to the Salafists’ ways.
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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