Is Egypt the Next Sudan?
Is El-Erian's strategy really to bring the Jews back, or to push the Copts out – a topic he carefully avoided mentioning?
In celebration of Egypt's new Islamic constitution, President Morsi went before the newly assembled upper house of the parliament – the Shura Council – and delivered another one of his enthusiastic and disconnected-from-reality speeches. In response to Egypt's economic troubles and high unemployment, especially among the youth (over 30%), he reminded the Egyptians that "God is the Provider" and because they are true believers, one day they will have their God-given income.
Morsi, who spoke to the Shura on December 30, is apparently unaware that other cultures such as the Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese have all achieved economic success despite the fact that they have different belief systems from his. Those cultures were built on the value of hard work, education and modernization. Perhaps God helps those who help themselves, whether they believe in Him or not.
He strongly downplayed Egypt's debts, saying that the debt is just 87% of the country's Gross Domestic Product for 2012 -- a figure most economists would consider catastrophic.
Morsi also gave his administration credit for the increase in the number of ships that passed through the Suez Canal, and the number of visitors in 2012 to the Sinai resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Additionally, he publicly (and shamelessly) took a page from one of his political opponents, former presidential candidate General Ahmed Shafik: Morsi called for the economic development of land near the Suez Canal. Shafik, by the way, fled Egypt within days of losing the election in June 2012.
Morsi's speech was discredited soon after by experts and critics, who mocked him for taking credit for the flow of goods through the Suez Canal and for taking, without credit, an idea from his opponent's campaign agenda.
Essam El-Erian, Morsi's adviser and the vice president of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, is already working along these lines. He is asking Jews to come back to the country, from which they were driven in the 1950s. In a televised interview, El-Erian urged Egyptian Jews living in Israel to come back to Egypt and contribute to the rebuilding of Egypt.
Nonetheless, Mr. El-Erian failed to mention that in the late 1940s and the early 50s, the Muslim Brotherhood, active since 1928, was responsible for killing and wounding hundreds of Egyptian Jews; for bombing the Jewish quarter in Cairo; and in an effort to drive Jews out of Egypt, for firebombing many Jewish business, such as the Cicurel and Gatenio department stores in downtown Cairo. Further, they sent thousands of "Fedayeen" to fight Jews in the 1948 Arab-Israel war.
It important to note that El-Erian's invitation was directed solely at the Egyptian Jews living in Israel – not at Jews living in Europe or in United States.
Under questioning from his interviewers, El-Erian admitted that his invitation was just a tactic to achieve the Muslim Brotherhood's long-term objective of emptying Israel of Jews to make room for the Palestinians to return to their homes. He also predicted the demise of Israel in the very near future.
Why would Egyptian Jews come back to Egypt – the most populous country in the Middle East where more than 65% of the population is illiterate, where nearly half of the people live under or just above the poverty line, and other minorities are now facing elimination?
Is El-Erian's strategy really to invite the Jews back, or to push the Copts out -- a topic he carefully avoided mentioning?
There was not a word about the hostility and the discrimination directed at Egypt's Coptic Christian minority. In just the past two years, after the January 25 uprising and the rise of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, attacks on Christians and churches sharply increased. Churches have been burned. On October 9, 2011, armoured military vehicles ran over peaceful Coptic protesters, killing more than 20. Would Jews really fare any better?
In response to El-Erian's invitation, other members of Muslim Brotherhood came up with their own ideas of how to deal with the Jews in Israel. Sheikh Youssef El-Badri suggested that instead of inviting them back to Egypt, why not just mobilize Jihadists to kill the Jews there?
It is unlikely that Egyptian Jews would respond positively to El-Erian's invitation, but they should know that the new constitution is intended to create an Islamic state in Egypt that severely restricts minority rights. Its drafting committee was controlled by extreme Islamists. On November 22, 2012 Sheikh Yasser Borhamy, a leading member of the constitution drafting committee, said in videotaped meeting with Salafi scholars and preachers that the "constitution imposes complete restrictions that have never before been imposed by any Egyptian constitution" and "places restrictions on freedom of thought, expression, and creativity."
Sheikh Borhamy's video confirmed that this constitution was created for the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood and hard-line Islamist factions intent on creating in Egypt an Islamic state.
Borhamy has called for the legalization of child marriage: a girl as young as three can get married because this what Allah said.
On the day Borhamy made his comments about the constitution, Morsi granted himself sweeping powers, including the power to safeguard the constitution drafting committee.
In the same video, Borhamy also thanked another member of the drafting committee, Islamist lawyer Selim al-Awa, for his legal tactics that allowed the Islamists to "deceive" the Christians and liberal members, and pass the constitution.
Al-Awa also helped to write Sudan's constitution, a document that smoothed the way for the Sharia law and enabled the hard-line Islamists in Sudan to stay in power for decades. Violence against Christians began in the 1980s, with the ascendancy of with Omar Al-Bashir, even before the more widely known violence in Darfur in the past decade. This Sharia-driven constitution made life impossible for Christians and Animists in that country, and eventually, in 2011, led to the secession of South Sudan. If this is what happened in Sudan, can you imagine what, in a few years, will happen to Egypt's Christians?
Mr. Al-Awa made a claim on Al-Jazeera in 2010 that Coptic churches and monasteries in Egypt had stockpiles of weapons in order to kill Muslims, and called for the state to inspect them. Following Mr. Al-Awa's claim, jihadists attacked and burned churches.
It appears that the Western media has been fooled by the Muslims Brotherhood's rosy messages. Time Magazine considered naming Morsi its "Man of the Year" for 2012 because of his successful brokering of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Time either ignored or was unaware that Hamas and the Islamists see this cease-fire not as a peace treaty, but as a temporary truce or "hudna" that buys time for transferring the knowledge of how to make long-range missiles from Iran to the Islamic fighters of Hamas.
Egypt now is completely controlled by Islamists and jihadists. Women and Christians are oppressed; Egypt's media and judiciary are under siege.
Whether they like it or not, Western leaders need to consider what kind of relationship they will have with the Muslim Brotherhood and the new Islamic state in Egypt.
Egypt's Islamist regime will not abrogate its treaty with Israel and start a war with the West -- at least not right away.
Many Islamists, including Sheik Mohammed Hassan, feel that it is in Egypt's best interests to wait a while before cancelling the treaty. Hassan spoke for these Islamists in 2011 when he said "It's not wise to start talking about such a treaty and invite more enemies while we are trying to build a country." For the short term, the Islamic regime will regard the treaty signed 1979 as a hudna [cease-fire]. Under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt will continue to take money from the U.S. and provide support to Hamas in the Gaza Strip -- just like Iran.
If one watches Morsi's videos from as recently as 2010 and 2011, it is impossible not to understand the Muslim Brotherhood's jihadist agenda.
If Western leaders wish to prevent a catastrophe, and to support the Egyptians who oppose the mistreatment of women and the subjugation of Egypt's Christian minority, they would be advised to move quickly. These were the people who were at the forefront of the January 25 Revolution. Although they started it, they will need Western help to wrest control from the new autocratic system put in place by the Muslim Brotherhood. NATO's involvement in the Middle East last year is an encouraging move.
Michael Armanious, a Coptic rights activist, blogs at The New Egypt. His writings have appeared in The Boston Herald, PJ Media, and The Commentator.
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