Several questions have been raised for almost a month over the decrees that the Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi announced. Mursi gave himself the right to announce –another - constitutional declaration giving himself divine powers. For the leadership of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its political arm the Freedom and Justice party (The ruling party in Egypt) It was very important to justify these decisions to the members and supporters especially after the series of resignations of the political consultants to the president that followed the announcements.
MB leaders talked about a severe conspiracy that's aiming to oust Mursi, assassinate or kidnap (!) him. They allege the conspiracy is planned by Gulf Arab intelligence and would've been carried out by the Egyptian opposition, led by the trio: Amr Mousa, Mohamed El-Baradei and Hamdeen Sabbahy with a special contribution from Ahmed Shafiq, the former presidential candidate who's moved to the UAE after his loss in the presidential elections back in June.
Obviously, this way of justifying the fascist decrees has been used before during Mubarak's regime. Former President Hosni Mubarak used the Muslim Brotherhood as a scarecrow to silence the western governments over his violations against the Egyptian people. Mubarak repeatedly used the MB as the scary alternative for his regime, and he succeeded to convince the west to keep silent over the crimes that were committed by the regime against its people. This was a technique that MB acquired from Mubarak and they are using it in a very effective way. By using the new scarecrow which is the Feloul (remnants of Mubarak's regime) MB is silencing the opposition in Egypt, again.
On the other hand, one of the main reasons of the crisis we live in is the opposition leaders. The opposition leaders fell in the polarization trap and it did not work out in their best interests. Transforming the battle of the constitution to the battle of Shariah (Islamic) law was not only is the Islamists fault, it also has a lot to do with the opposition leaders' discourses. Sharia is not the question of Egypt at the moment, and if we turned the political battle in Egypt into a battle over identity, we'll all lose. Even if the Egyptian people voted for Sharia, but in the long term we'll be put in front of very difficult dilemmas including those faced by Copts in Egypt.
In the Egyptian constitution issued in 1923 the 32 members of the constituent assembly (including the Christians and the Jewish representatives) unanimously agreed on adding an article says that Islam is the religion of the state. The three main parties represented in the assembly were liberal parties, but they were representing the Egyptian people and they haven't used identity as a political weapon. It's important to say that the Egyptian society is not sectarian in its nature, but using identity as a political weapon and institutionalizing religion from the side of the Islamists (and the Church as well) is going to lead Egypt into a bigger storm that will be difficult to avoid.
It wasn't impossible for the MB to win the Copt if they hadn’t use identity politics, but instead they cooperated with the Salafis, the radical conservative new-comer politicians.
It seems that the MB is identifying the Salafis as the standard of radicalism, using them to tell the world that if you don't want us, be ready to deal with the worse … or even worse, the Jihadis. The MB used again one of the lessons from the Mubarak school, they are using the Salafis to scare the foreign countries, the same time they are using the Feloul for the interior consumption. The Salafis used identity politics for the first time in the first referendum over the constitutional declaration issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces SCAF in March 2011. One of the most important Salafi scholars used the term of “Battle of the Ballot Boxes” to announce the triumph of Islam in this battle after the majority agreed on the declaration. Actually this kind of discourses didn't work during the first round of the referendum over the constitution as 43% of the voters refused the constitution draft.
For many political activists and citizens the constitution is not that bad to be rejected, even though they voted or they are going to vote “no” to the draft. The reason for this is that they don't want to see the Islamists happy with another majority. The Islamists’ behavior throughout the last year has been worrying, they were very ecstatic by their newly-found power they have and so didn't bother themselves to talk to different political players in Egypt.
For sure, the initial results of the constitutional referendum will reduce the ego of Islamists to its minimum in a year and this is too important to balance the scales in Egypt.
But the question to be asked at the moment: what are the American and European interests towards the new Egyptian administration? For many followers, the answer is the economy. So far, the MB asserted their neo-liberal economic plans, starting with the negotiations over the IMF loans right through to the constitution which is giving the president ultimate power to dissolve workers unions and syndicates. These plans are completely approved by the American administration and the EU, so one of the points that the MB also took from Mubarak's legacy is their foreign affairs approach.
Everyone in Egypt knows that what we need to sustain a good relation with the west to keep Israel secured and to save the western interests in Egypt by adopting economic reform plans.
I'm afraid that the current regime is neglecting the demands of the Egyptian citizen which means that the legacy of Mubarak will be the reason for a widespread anger one more time, and this time the people will know what do to!
(Abdelrahman Ayyash is a Political Researcher and Activist, specializing in political Islam and is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He can be reached at email@example.com and @3yyash on Twitter)