Brotherhood’s slogan is not the problem

Brotherhood’s slogan is not the problem

 I’m against the use of religious slogans in election campaigns and the inclusion of religion in partisan affairs. Only God has the authority to judge who is right and wrong, not human beings.

The fact that some parties use religion to promote themselves reflects, in my opinion, a selfish attempt on their part to exploit believers’ faith. By using religion these parties also assume they possess the absolute truth and that anybody else’s understanding of religion is false. Since dogmatic convictions usually lead individuals to villify opposing ideas, Egyptians legislators have established necessary safeguards to protect the bonds of society against the threat of extremist groups.

I’m also opposed to religious-based political parties, by which I mean parties that restrict their membership to followers of a particular faith and exclude all others. Since doing so is a violation of citizenship rights–one of the pillars of the modern state–legislators have understandably outlawed the formation of such parties to protect the nation against the threat of sectarian tensions.

Despite my opposition to religious parties, I remain wary of the current crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian state, along with several writers and intellectuals, are currently attacking the Brotherhood on the basis that its use of religious slogans violates the law. But the real reason for this clampdown is not a desire, on the part of the Egyptian state, to uphold the law,  but rather to undermine the Brotherhood’s chances in the upcoming parliamentary elections by silencing their demands and restricting the movement of their candidates.

Moreover, this clampdown violates the spirit of the law since it deprives citizens of their legitimate right to run in elections , regardless of their political, religious or intellectual orientations.

The assumption that people give their votes to the Muslim Brotherhood because it uses the slogan “Islam is the Solution” is grossly simplistic. Any Brotherhood candidate would get the same number of votes with that slogan or not. People vote for the Brotherhood either because they are persuaded by their ideas or they want to bring down the ruling National Democratic Party.  The Brotherhood has suffered more than any other political group at the hands of the state. Those wishing to exact revenge on the regime naturally give their votes to the Islamist organization.

The motto “Islam is the Solution” may not be the solution, but nor is it the problem. The real problem is President Hosni Mubarak’s refusal to establish mechanisms for the transfer of power. Instead, he insists on remaining in office until his last breath after which he will have his son succeed him.

Only when the ruling elite accepts the idea of a democratic power transition will we be able to fix the relationship between religion and the state.