Saturday, December 15, 2012

Anti-Islam sentiments in Egypt counterproductive to healthy transition

Fall and power-sharing struggle among a unified opposition that orchestrated a revolution is inevitable almost after all massive political transformations. What would be devastating for the future of a country is that the power struggle in the post-revolution period becomes violent and one party comes out victorious.

Emboldened by tandem electoral victories and enjoying a simple majority, Islamists in Egypt feel that they should be the one commanding the terms in writing the country’s permanent constitution. Egypt’s draft constitution, which will be put on referendum on Sunday, is far more democratic than the one it is replacing despite serious shortcomings. But Egyptians in Tahrir didn’t risk their life just to replace Mubarak-era constitution with the one that contains vague articles that are open to various interpretations.

Egypt’s draft constitution, which will most likely be approved in today’s referendum, does not include a clear set of rules on civilian oversight of the military. It is a move by Islamists not to irk the military in their delicate strides to complete the painful transition process.

For weeks, opponents of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi protested the draft constitution, the president’s now-defunct immunity decree and even what they call possible “Islamization” of the country in the future. Protests met with demonstrations by supporters of Morsi, a rare occurrence.

Damaging the entire anti-Morsi movement is their blatant anti-Islam sentiments. Members of their group often cite “former Islamists” or “pious Muslims” confronting Morsi as an indication that the movement is not an anti-Islamic group. When they accuse Morsi and his supporters of turning country into an Islamic state, they alienate those who would otherwise be protesting against the president if the movement was not about staging open attacks against Islam’s larger representation in public institutions and in laws.

For conservative Egyptians, the struggle against Morsi is not about more freedoms or rights but a fight of those who fear of being in a disadvantageous position once Morsi finalizes the “Islamist” transition period. The result would be the Islamist president, Islamist parliament, a military backing an Islamist establishment and slowly Islamization of the country. These fears were exactly the experiences of the Muslim Brotherhood under the iron fist of Mubarak for decades. When they have a chance, they want to use it.

Islamists will make horrible mistakes on the way of writing new rules of the country. But when accusations are made on grounds that they are marginalizing secular people and non-Muslims deliberately, then the Morsi camp will be getting bigger by the addition of all who think the criticisms are not against Morsi and his circle’s anti-democratic measures but against him being conservative president.

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