No writer in Hollywood could have gotten it better. Revolution in Egypt: a season finale shocker.
For decades it was common knowledge that Hosni Mobarak is sitting on a barrel of Islamist explosive, that only his firm hand is keeping the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over the country, unleashing violence and chaos. Egypt was not alone: A Brotherhood rise against Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad in the 1980s ended with some 30,000 dead bodies in Hama, and when Al Qaeda first announced its agenda, it was the ousting of the secular regimes in the Arab world at the top; Most specifically in Saudi Arabia.
Thus was the status-quo in Egypt and other Arab countries: Enormously popular Muslim Brotherhood, disciplined and patient, kept at bay by ruthless strongmen.
But when they finally rose to power, it wasn’t the way the Brothers had anticipated. No rivers of blood for the sake of Allah, no holy martyrdom - almost disappointing. No, the Muslim Brothers moved directly, and quite literally, from Mubarak’s prison dungeons to the Presidency on the wings of Democracy, a Western invention that categorically contradicts everything they believe in.
Only the hopelessly naive could have missed the irony in Islamists reaping the benefits of a “Democratic” “Arab Spring”, which taught us that when the will of the people in the Arab world is accommodated, what you get is Political Islam in all of its calamitous glory.
Tunisia, Egypt, Gaza, Libya, Turkey - the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Political Islam is not a democratic occurrence equivalent to a Republican or a Democratic win in an election cycle. Their rise was decades in the making, backed by the current enormous wave of religiosity and radicalism in the Muslim world - from Tehran to Malmo, Damascus to Boston. Their rise is a tsunami, or as agent Smith says to Neo in The first Matrix: “You hear that Mr. Anderson? This is the sound of inevitability.”
Until this week.
This revolution came out of left field: the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is perfectly counter-intuitive. The Islamist route for Egypt, which was building up for 80 years, collapsed in just one year and three days. Astounding.
This is not the first time history takes an unexpected turn. Why positive outcomes occur in the face of hopeless prospects is a philosophical question more than anything else. Such a resounding loss for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the land of its founder Hassan Al-Bana (the father of the Brothers if you will), a land of 80 million people, a leader in the Arab world - is hardly a bump in the road for Political Islam. And a loss to political Islam is a clear win for civilization, freedom and progress worldwide.
The issue of democracy is almost beside the point. Just like placing a team of Swedes on the Cricket field; Democracy is simply not an Arab game, at least not at the moment. The two titanic battles in the Muslim world are Islamists against secularists and Sunnis against Shi’as, the rest is a distraction. Just like Hamas in Gaza, being elected was the last democratic move Morsi had made, and seeing supporters of the Brotherhood now sob for the demise of democracy is a recap of that same irony I mentioned above.
So what now?
After the first round of the 1991 Parliamentary elections in Algeria, it became crystal clear that the Islamic Salvation Front is about to triumph in a monumental way, and that the country will inevitably turn into an Islamic state. The military got nervous, and cancelled the election in a swift coup. The result was a gruesome civil war lasting 10 years, including intensely brutal massacres of entire villages by raging Islamist factions.
Islamism thrives in an environment of violence and blood. Case in point: Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, Gaza and terror scenes around the world. The Muslim Brotherhood had built its strength in Egypt while under the iron fist of dictators. If anything, the Brotherhood is now back in its natural, comfortable position of the victim, the underdog.
If the Algerian civil war is to teach us anything, the battle in Egypt is far from over.
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