Last Updated: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:47 pm (KSA) 09:47 am (GMT)

Let’s give the Muslim Brotherhood a chance

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed

The least we can do, first of all, is to congratulate new Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi. He was able to make it. He contested honorably and fought with dignity and respect and was able to win the majority of votes. No one can doubt his right to presidency. He is the first elected president in the history of Egypt. All those who preceded him — Muhammad Najeeb, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak — either took power by force or they were appointed to their positions. Therefore, we are witnessing a historic change and we should recognize its truth, and before that, appreciate its value.

It is not surprising that there is a widespread concern over the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power in the biggest Arab country. This anxiety is a fact of life even if we don’t admit it. We should, however, not allow this worry to overcome the need to deal realistically with the new situation. The ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood to power and their domination of the Parliament and the presidency may be a positive thing. I cannot claim that the dialogues and interviews I have done with a number of Egyptian Islamists in Cairo and abroad during the past few months have made me fully understand the nature of the new system of rule in Egypt. However, I can safely say that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the other Islamists, such as former presidential candidate Abdul Muniem Abul Fotouh, and even some Salafists, are now speaking a new political language. They are well aware that they are living in a new historic era that forces them to deal with the situations realistically. They know that they have to make use of this historic moment so as to ensure a stable system for Egypt in which they should live and work together with the other rival political powers. Is it just the use of a new language or is it a complete intellectual change? I cannot say. Time will only provide us an answer.

I think the pessimists and the worried people should give the new president a chance. What he said in the speech he delivered after victory about respecting agreements and peace has a great weight. He was not obliged to say this after he had won the elections. Former President Sadat signed the peace agreement with Israel; Mubarak pledged to make peace a reality. However, both of them were not able to achieve much in absence of the public legitimacy. If the Muslim Brotherhood wanted, they would be the most capable of making peace and negotiate with strength and confidence with the Israelis. The Arabs, in general, and not only the Egyptians, would agree to any move, the Brotherhood might take toward achieving peace.

The Muslim Brotherhood could fight religious extremism and spread the culture of freedom and tolerance. They could also develop a plan to arrest Egypt’s continued economic and social journey downward. This is a big task we should encourage.

Even if the Muslim Brotherhood was not able to realize any of these wishes, it would be enough for them to consolidate the new system of governance through respecting the rules of the democratic game. I ask everyone, especially those who are suspicious of them, to support the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt by coming close to them and maintaining political and humanitarian ties with them.

The Muslim Brotherhood said it bluntly that they would not accept anyone telling Egypt or Egyptians what to do and what not to do. However, Egypt has a unique position in the Arab world, which the Muslim Brothers should maintain, and assume the role of Egypt as a big sister.
The region is faced with numerous challenges that neither Egypt alone nor the Arabs without it would be able to face. The Arab relationship with Egypt has always been a pivotal one. This has been the case with Egypt under a royal king and a military rule. It will continue to be so, now that Egypt is a republic under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.


The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the Saud-based Arab News on June 26, 2012

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