Egypt’s Parliamentary Elections: The Delusion of the Islamists, Salafists and their Sharia

No, I’m not following up with anything Egypt-related. Partly because it’s not my cause to be part of but mainly because I’m disgusted by what’s happening to the Copts there. It sort of puts a damper on what could have been had the Egyptians saw their revolution to the end and didn’t slack off the moment Mubarak was overthrown.

No, this post is not my own analysis on an election I have no idea of nor will it attempt to be one. This is simply me ridiculing any person who thinks the way of ruling any country in the world today, especially a country like Egypt, is by way of Islamic Sharia.

No, I’m not berating Islam. And no, I’m not being anti-semitic. I’m just being realistic. Whoever thinks the ways of 600AD still apply in 2011 is not only delusional but should probably get their brains checked. Whoever thinks a theocracy where one religion’s rule is enforced on everyone else is still living in the Dark Ages of their corresponding religion, be it Islam or Christianity or Judaism.

Israel, the country these Islamists perceive (along with the United States and possibly Iran) as the ultimate devil, has a neo-theocratic ruling system. And look where that’s leading us.

But no matter, this is not a post for overanalysis. This is a post to present this picture that a friend was outraged enough to share on Facebook with me.

In order to showcase their point about the validity of their view of Islamic Sharia, this picture was made out to show people who would be damaged by applying the Sharia. You have, starting from right to left: the homosexuals, the alcoholics, the prostitutes, the corrupt politicians and killers: what they consider as the scumbags of society. The picture serves to paint a picture where these people would be eradicated from Egyptian society if the Muslim Brotherhood (and those with whom they have an alliance) win the elections.

But naturally I beg to differ. Not only is this picture non-sensical, it’s also demeaning, ridiculous and unfounded. I wouldn’t be addressing it hadn’t it had tons of Facebook likes and an immense amount of shares. This picture has basically gone viral. But I digress. To suggest that the existence of these people would cease upon applying the Islamic Sharia is, simply put, stupid. Or aren’t those Islamists the same people who are horny enough to pursue the prostitutes or the closeted homosexuals who are afraid to come out? Being a staunch religious person with an infested three-foot long beard does not mean that person is holy.

Besides, who says it’s up to the Islamists to judge these people for what they do? What will their punishments be in case Sharia is applied? Whiplashes and cutting hands? How is that humane? Some might say there’s a process to follow when it comes to these types of punishment, that it’s not a haphazard process. But simply put: this is year 2011. Corporal punishment enforced by the State should not exist. What gives the state the right to cut off a thief’s hands or whip a person’s back until they can’t walk anymore? There’s a reason the charter of Human Rights was adopted by almost all countries around the world: it’s because basic human rights, even when people mess up, should be respected. Some even say such punishment would teach others. Then why is prostitution the world’s oldest profession? And why are thieves a part of every society? Why would I get punished for drinking alcohol? Who has the right to dictate what food and drinks I want to consume?

And how does a Sharia-run society work for those who do not want sharia to govern them in the first place?

So let me paint a picture of Egypt with Islamists ruling:

1) Increasing persuction of religious minorities in Egypt, only this time the state would turn an even blinder eye to them. If whatever type of ruling Egypt has today were to change to Islamic Sharia, who’s to say the Coptic minorities in Egypt won’t be decimated worse than they are being persecuted today? I understand Islam does not preach this. But there’s a drastic difference between Islam as a religion and what people understand of Islam. After all, the Islamic Sharia is some man’s interpretation of Islam, whether you like it or not. And it is these men that will believe that these Copts (and other minorities) are not suited for living under their ruling. The mentality that it’s okay to dispose of these Copts will grow. One only needs to remember how many Egyptians, including Egypt’s National TV, commented on the Maspero murdering of Copts to know that fertile ground for hate is there. Moreover, according to a Pew Poll, half of the Egyptian population has negative views of Christians in their country. Couple all of that with Islamic sharia and you get the picture.

2) Increasing censorship and decreasing free speech: I cannot begin to fathom Islamists allowing liberals to express their opinions now, would they? It’s the way things are with most parties that get to power in countries that are struggling to achieve democracy. Even in countries that we consider democratic models, media has never been unbiased. Fox News is pro-Republicans in the United States, ABC and CBS are pro-Democrats. So it will only be rational for many Egyptian TV Stations, newspapers and other media outlets to be coerced into diffusing one type of news only: the one approved by the political majority, run by Islamic Sharia.

3) Worse oppression than the one SCAF is now implementing: Many may want Islamic Sharia to be applied. But if it is applied, how would the atheists be treated? How would the Muslims who want a civil non-theocratic state to rule them be handled? The premise is not religious; it’s humanitarian. Islamic Sharia is being applied in many countries around the world, most notably Saudi Arabia. And if you look at Saudi Arabia from a non-economical point of view, the idea of living there is dismally depressing. Women cannot drive, they need to be veiled all the time. No movie theaters for you to spend time at, punishment laws that date back to the dark ages, patriarchal supremacy, very high disregard to basic human rights of free speech and freedom of religion, etc…. So to those who champion the idea of Islamic Sharia being the solution for all, this is definitely not the case. And there will come a time when drastic compromises in the basic foundation in that Sharia have to be given in order to accomodate the views of those who are different. Odds are those compromises will not happen and this is where oppression starts.

4) Worse economic situation as many of the world’s countries lose their faith in dealing with Egypt. It’s not very hard to imagine this really. Tourists will start coming less and less to Egypt. If the Mubarak regime had them fooled into thinking Egypt was somewhat liberal and understanding, I’m sure any delusion will be washed away by Islamists winning. Investments by major businesses will start decreasing as investment laws dictated by the Sharia will start getting implemented. And the ball gets rolling until the poor get poorer and with Egypt that’s a lot of people getting poorer.

5) Finally, all of the aforementioned points coupled together would mean Egypt back to pre-Mubarak days. The revolution dead.

No, the picture I’m painting is not grim. It’s one that can be easily evaded. And no, it’s not delusional like that picture being circulated among Facebook’s Islamist Egyptian populace. It might as well happen (with a higher probability that is than Islamists eradicating the people portrayed in that picture). Perhaps the youth who actually care about being who they are in Egypt should stop caring more about their country’s political situation and vote?

You know what they say: if you don’t vote, you can’t nag.

And sometimes the choice is so obvious that you can’t even begin to fathom another choice. Just look at this electoral poster from Egypt:

These people are calling for a modern Egypt. What’s modern about having the eyes of the only woman on their list hidden from everyone? The woman even looks like she was drawn there, not given the decency of having a proper photograph taken of her (even if that photograph won’t show anything). Who’s to say under Salafi and Islamists ruling such a thing won’t be forced on all women of Egypt? Who’s to say whatever rights women in Egypt have today won’t be taken away by these men who see themselves as superior?

And at the end of the day, as a Lebanese, an Islamist Egypt has the least effect on my political system. The only country getting the bad side of the deal will be Egypt itself. Good luck with that, I guess.

In the meantime, my heart goes out to the Copts. Again.

Thank You Egypt

For once in a long, long time, we, Lebanese, are not in the spotlight of the political scene. We took a backseat and observed a revolution in Egypt that managed to get the country’s 30 year-president resigned.

So today, instead of saying “Thank You Qatar” for building a bridge somewhere or a sewage system in a remote village, we say “Thank You Egypt” for building hope inside every person who has ever been oppressed.

In just two weeks and despite the many bumps they faced, Egyptians were able to get the president that ruled them for thirty years to resign. Were they scared? Yes they were. Did they lose lives? 300 of them. Were they injured? In their thousands. But they kept on. They persevered.

This perseverance is letting me breathe today with hope that tomorrow will bring a better day for all of us. I am hoping that this dawn of freedom will shine on all states where oppression is still ruling.  Egypt has even given me hope for change in my own country, Lebanon. The courage the Egyptians have shown has instilled in me faith that I can pull off the same thing over here against those that I fear are trying to silence me, be it with harsh words, weapons or threats.

So today, let me say “thank you Egypt” on behalf of myself and everyone who believes this region deserves better than those who are running it. And let me raise a glass to all the brave men and women who, against all odds, triumphed. Maybe some other countries will follow suit? And yes, I am glaring at a bunch of them now.

Et Tu, Egypt?

As I’m writing this, everything is going haywire in Tahrir Square.

Egyptians have cracked. They are no longer a united front.

Blame it on whoever you want… money, poverty, Mubarak’s influence… it all comes down to this: Change has been betrayed.

I was honestly optimistic that Egypt would be the major catalyst in the reaction of change in the Middle East.

I remember a very wise Chemistry professor at AUB telling me, when I attended class amid the May 7th protests in Lebanon, about one of his visits to the Arab League Summit.

He was sitting there and a man approached him and told him: “Who’s the odd-one in this group of leaders?”

My professor looked at him questionably. The man answered, “Amin Gemayel”, the Lebanese president at the time.

“Why’s that?” my professor asked. The man replied: “He’s the only one who won’t be here in five years”.

This little story shows how it’s all been the same since the 1980s in this region: same people governing, same people doing the same things all over again. This region needed this reaction of change.

But with one speech from one of those people, everything went wrong. The catalyst is now working for the reverse reaction: status quo.

This is where we are heading back. Mubarak has definitely showed other leaders around the region what he’s capable of. He single-handedly contained a massive two-million-plus protest in one day and reversed everything it did.

People in Egypt are now fighting each other. Molotov cocktails are being thrown, bricks from the roads are being torn apart to be used as projectiles, bricks are being thrown from rooftops, boiling water being poured on protesters… a massacre is starting on the streets of Tahrir Square. The army is apparently beginning to fight the protesters. Activists are being hit with rocks. They are bleeding on the streets. Nurses and doctors are nowhere to be found. Even Anderson Cooper was punched in the head 10 times. Thugs are infiltrating the peaceful protests and a bloodbath is forming.

My Lebanese friends are reporting that they are afraid for their lives now. They are trying to escape but the army is blocking all the exists. The protesters are surrounded. There’s no way to go. I am afraid for them and I can’t even begin to imagine the fear they must be feeling right now. What civilized country in the world turns protests into an event where your life is threatened? Into an event that is slowly turning into mass-killing?

Long gone are the days when we thought January 25th is a sign of hope for the region. Long gone are the days when we thought there’s even hope for hope in this region.

And for what? for this man, who contrary to what he announced yesterday, is still, 30 years later, starving for even more power. Mubarak, you are a coward. You are not a man. A man would respond to his people’s concerns. He wouldn’t resort to killing those who rise against him. He would hear what they have to say. You are not worth of your country. You are not worthy of life.

And the ironic thing is… what will tomorrow’s headline be?

Egypt Protests Contained

What will the American stance from this be?

We support whatever the Egyptian people want

And where will the Egyptians be? Either dead on the streets of Tahrir Square or back in their stinking poverty.

Change to Egypt: Et tu, Egypt?


Message to the Egyptians

For 30 years, you have been oppressed. For 30 years, you have been lied to. For 30 years, your liberties have been taken away. For 30 years, you have been opinion-less.

But for a few days, you took back your opinions. You stood up for what you, deep down, believed in. You stood up and said no to a ruler who has been governing you for 30 years with an iron fist.

For a few days, you stood up for your rights. You stood up for all the electoral fraud this ruler committed, for all the injustice he inflected upon you, for all the poverty he has been leading you to…

And that ruler was afraid… he disconnected you from the world. He excised your country from everything and left you stranded. Yet you did not succumb.

I have Lebanese friends who are protesting with you today, fighting for your cause. And yet, after this tyrant addressed you, as a nation, yesterday, many of you believed him and abandoned the cause you lost men and women for.

I’d like to believe he will keep by his promises – because ultimately that’s what you’re all fighting for. But as they say: fool you once, shame on me. Fool you twice, shame on you.

This person has been fooling you for 30 years. It’s high time you learned.

Don’t leave my Lebanese friends stranded in Tahrir square, waiting for you to come back. Go join them. Keep on fighting. It is your cause, not theirs. If you’re not going to fight for your rights, do you expect the rest of the world to stand up for them?