Dialogues of Companions

Dialogues of Companions, Brothers..(1) Revolutionaries, Reformers

Is an uprising inevitable? Is changing the slogan “Islam is the Solution” a concession for the government or giving up a principle? Why do analysts disregard the Wasat (Middle) party when talking about the Turkish issue?

These were some of the comments expressed by “companions” and “brothers” on three articles I have recently published on Al Masry Al Youm (Egyptian Today) under the titles of “Uprising Illusion”, “Islamists and Turkish Secularists” and “ Why insist on the slogan ”Islam is the Solution?”

A true leftist fighter Mr. Kamal Khalil and the general coordinator of Kifaya (Enough) Movement sent an article to my colleague Magdi Al Gallad chief editor of Al Masry Alyoum who is currently abroad and another copy to me. I will cote some parts of this article to comment on.

Dr. Amr Al Shobky wrote in his article in Al Marsy Alyoum on Thursday 1052007 under the title of “Uprising Illusion” stressing that: “The country is in a dire need, now more than ever, for a (Reformist Lobby) to spare it from disunity, system disintegration and institutional and public utilities break down”

Previous statements of Dr. Shobky only reflect a reformist daydreaming. We are dealing with an autocratic regime and a state ruled by the police. It is a regime that has and still is performing the largest organized robbery of the country’s treasures. It is an anti-people regime making alliances with American and Zionist occupation. A regime ruled by Washington .. A corrupt regime. We are before a regime that dose not need reform or maintenance but an uprooting for all its institutions and pillars. What reform can we do for an aged rotten regime?

Which institutions is Dr. Shobky worried about? Are they the ministry of interior, state security, central security, the Karate regiments or the special forces? (The billions spent annually on this institution and its armies can solve the problems of millions of persecuted, unemployed and exploited people)…Or does Dr. Shobky mean People and Shura Councils: “Fabricators of anti-people laws”? or mass media institutions: (The lying misleading machines).

Reformers in our country are intimidated from the risk of system disintegration, state disunity and institutional break down while the regime is autocratic and corrupt, the state is ruled by the police and commits atrocities against the people and the institutions are generally out dated and a cradle of corruption, bureaucracy and citizen contempt.

Some would say: “Then, you are calling for creative chaos..
Actually I don’t.. Chaos is the term used by Bush and Condi…Rather, creative revolution is the tool to wipe out the old system with all its institutions and building up the society on new grounds, systems and institutions that duly respect the people deeming it a leader and teacher.
I don’t fear for the regime to disintegrate … Let it go with all its elements and institutions to hell. That regime persecuted and humiliated our people and killed hope in the hearts of millions of people.
 Reformists only care for one demand: “More than one candidate for presidency for only two terms”… Exploiting workers means nothing, neither expelling farmers from their land nor those who live in tombs, slums or tin huts”

Here ends the prominent part of the message. The major crisis of this speech, actually, is not in its unrealistic language and terms, but in talking about certain social classes which they do not have anything to do with them. No one can say that Mr. Khalil and his companions have anything to do with escalating workers’ strikes in most Egyptian factories. No one can even claim that they are able to communicate with the working class. They are neither related to farmers who were expelled from their land nor to victims of the regime all over Egypt.

The real defect in this vision is that it is a rhetoric machine repeating some slogans without expressing any wish to know the reasons behind ignoring that speech by the street and popular classes.

Any active political current should ask itself periodically: why stumbling? New ideas should be offered in order to interact with reality and develop it. This, actually, was the real value of “kifaya” movement when first launched. It has a critical vision of opposition parties and presented a new pattern of political activity that exceeded all existing parties. When Kifaya stumbled, nobody wondered why.

What can be called a reformist vision can be dramatically revolutionary if it can interact with reality and manage to change and reform the regime rather than uprooting it. This would mean reforming weary non-efficient state institutions that may include entities and power more than those of security bodies. Further, it has a large bureaucracy recruiting over 6 million employees and workers. “Reformist” and “revolutionary” powers failed to affect most of those institutions.

As was the case in all democratic countries, a large part of the “revolutionary” leftists may upgrade to be reformists or remain revolutionary as in France where they won millions of votes in presidential elections. They were able to gather tens of thousands of people in public marshes simply because they are active under the rule of those “reformists” who established democratic regimes that granted them free action.

Discussing the issue of change should take place away from ideological whishes that may divert our attention from reality and ignore seeking an answer to the question: did the majority of countries turned into democratic through revolutions? The answer is definitely no. Then why do we insist to burden the Egyptian people with what other countries could not bear?

Can we for once be real “revolutionaries” and admit that our new and old political movements are in crisis. Can we admit that we failed to realize our midsummer dream of reform in 2005. It is time to bring up a new breed of political powers in order to prevent infection of diseases of old powers. There should be parallels to “headquarters guards” that exist in all legitimate parties whose main and only target is to guard the party’s headquarters and secure its internal working system.

Even if those guards do not exist, neither “demonstration guards” nor the revolution guards and the situation altered, it is likely that demonstrations would go to the streets with thousands who select new leaders other than those we see at the demonstrations of tens.

The value and future of Kifaya movement are pending to its members’ ability to turn it into an attractive element for all reformist powers. On the other hand, the value of the new political powers revolutionaries is to maintain what they do not have, such as headquarters and posts. They are definitely a struggling and political power that should keep its political role of reform away from dullness and vanity from review and self-criticism.

Dialogues of Companions, Brothers..(2)
AL Wasat, Turkey, Islam is the Solution
By: Amr Al-Chobaki

Some Islamists commented on my article “Why insist on the Slogan: Islam is the Solution” through direct messages and others sent to me by my friend George Tharwat who gathered them from the internet world that I don’t visit frequently.

One of the comments says:
Al Masry Al Youm (Egyptian Today) published on the nineteenth of last month an article wrote by political and strategic expert Dr. Amr Al Shobky in which he expressed his amazement of the Muslim Brotherhood insistence on going through Shura elections under the slogan of “Islam is the Solution.”

Furthermore, he considered it a repeated mistake saying: …”The era of slogans and total references away from political reality is over from the world.. east and west. No one in a democratic society says: socialism is the solution or liberalism is the solution. The true challenge, though, is how this party or that movement draws from socialism, liberalism or Islam particular political ideas for the purpose of development and progress.”

This is evidently a mix up and untrue. It is not objective to equalize between (a holy religion!!) with certain rules and provisions and a human doctrine however solidly structured it is!!.

In general, the comments were deep and sublime particularly under the state of chaos in some websites.

A leader at the Wasat party (Middle Party and under construction)), Mr. Hosam El Din Ali khalaf sent me an extremely important comment in significance and courage, saying:
I remarked that Al Wasat party, in which I am a member and founder, did not occur to you in your article “Islamists and Secularists” in Turkey, the dual is reversed despite what you know about us and our ideas. Actually, when I started to read the article I was certain that we will be mentioned as the resemblance was clear between the two ideas.

I wondered if the mistake was ours as the Wasat was so out of context. What is your analysis or advices?  Is the setback in the idea itself or in our human part and our propaganda. A party colleague once wrote an article of that meaning under the title of: “Why do not they see us.. Who is to blame?”

As for the first comment, the most evident part of it is the statement that is deeply rooted in the minds of a large sector of Islamists who consider it subjective to equalize between a (holy religion!) with its own rules and provisions and human doctrine however solidly structured it is. The truth is when any religious doctrine is turned into a political and social action, it becomes a human. It is applied via humans not angels targeting reform of human lives through the application of particular policies.

Islamic history taught us that periods of time when Islamic principles ruled were exceptional because the “temptation of the world and sovereignty” could not be resisted by rulers following the rightly-guided Caliphs. The Islamic state turned into an empire with great achievements and failures like any other human civilization rather than a holy religion.

Many elements of the Islamic current, especially Muslim Brotherhood (MB), gained remarkable political experience lately. They came to the conclusion that their religious structure that allowed them to be totally more efficient than other political powers, does not mean that they are able to rule through the power of faith. This feeling that faith in a great holy religion like Islam would grant a spontaneous opportunity of political success is very wrong. Many rulers who established a regime derived from Islamic teachings, gravely failed as they did not distinguish between their faith in a holy religion and their actual abilities to develop reality. That is why Taliban’s rule was toppled in Afghanistan, Islamists in the Sudan, but the experiment succeeded in Turkey, Malaysia probably in Morocco and largely in Iran as a result of political administration and not religious principles.

After twenty years of using the MB slogan Islam is the solution, they must be now in a position that permits them to offer a new electoral slogan. Any current that stands still repeating what it said two decades ago will be inflexible and rigid, particularly that the MB are preparing a programme of a political party and they have to offer a new slogan to cope with the new programme and phase. They may choose justice, democracy or reform as a slogan for this phase to express their political vision derived from Islam.

As for the Wasat dilemma, it is not due to the party’s thought or vision, but to its surrounding reality. The Wasat represents a limited dissidence from the mother group (MB) and most of its middle generation members still belong to that group on the contrary of similar currents. The dissidence of Geel LA Karama (Dignity Generation) from the Nserist  Party took most of the middle generation figures which did not happen in the Wasat Party.

The Wasat stemmed from a modern and civil idea, offering an enlightened understanding of Islam, but under a cultural reality most of its “Islamist” members are more reserved than the Brothers and more eager to listen to listen to silly “ fatwa men” than wise men of the Wasat Party.

What is certain is that the Wasat ideas are theoretically similar to those of Turkey but the essential difference is that they remained only ideas in Egypt and became an experience in Turkey. Despite its strict secular regime, Turkey had a system that accepts accomplishments and gave a space for practical reality to include all Islamist powers and currents provided that they respect the secular system and the Republican laws. Since there are laws and order – whatever the opinion about them may be – they assisted in the process of development and innovation as well as made since for the struggle of the “middle generation” at the Welfare Party, its internal dissidence and the establishment of the ruling Justice and Development party. This is the contrary of the Egyptian experience where there is no order or laws in the first place.

The dilemma of the Wasat Party is not in its idea or members but in a reality that hampered not only its legitimacy, but all political movement that was able, in case of happening, to attract most potential allies, particularly those who believe in a civil state. They are of the opinion that we need political and economic knowledge and transparent democratic systems regardless of the intellectual reference of the regime or party.

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