I spend a lot of time fighting Islamaphobia. I want to stress at the start of this article that it is not about Islam. It is, however, about those employing Islam as a tool to grab and hold power. To me the psychology and motives of The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic politicians are the same as those represented by the political Christian Right in America who just lost in the last election. It is a great temporary benefit to be be able to say to unsophisticatedand often illiterate people, "Vote against me or disagree with me, and you are disagreeing with God." The problems come once the election is won, and the people see that you are employing the same tactics as the regime you were to replace and working to fit the facts and religion to support your position. To the simple people, it will God who let them down.
There was a recent article in the Egypt Independent (www.egyptindependent.com) which I seeded that discussed this subject. The article, along with another on the changes taking place in Egyptian thinking since the revolution, have given me new hope that the revolutionaries who marched into Tahir Square may be victorius yet. I have discussed matters of faith with Egyptians who have put their religion "on hold" and who are questioning those they once felt should never be questioned. The Imams in the mosques are no longer trusted to be good, honest men. More and more they are seen as politicians seeking power to control others and to force others to observe their brand of Islam.
I was very surprised when I asked Egyptians why the Salafi were making such a big deal out of allowing girls to marry at 10 and were opposed to articles against human trafficking (slavery). It was explained to me that many rich Salafi are engaged in the arrangement of child brides (short term marriages) to rich pedophiles in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. This is but one example of behavior that is making many Egyptians put their religion "on hold" and to question the motives of those professing to be "protectors of the faith." Most in Egypt know Islam is not about growing a beard or wearing a veil. Often when these issues are discussed, I see a twisting of the wrist which means,"What is this?"
The Brotherhood is seen as people after power only; the only relationship they are seen to have with Islam is the word "Muslim" in their name. They are acting just like Mubarak. Mubarak used guns to control the people; The Brotherhood wants to use God. The President of ALL Egyptians is so addicted to this "Islamic cause" that he could not bring himself to attend the coronation of the Copt's new pope. I heard more comments about this from Muslims than I did from Christians. His actions did not reflect the spirit nor the goals of those who faced death in Tahir Square. The Brotherhood wants the people to fear God and consequently them. They forget Rumi's "Those who thirst and fill a cup with water will see God's face in it, but those who do not LOVE God will see only their faces" The members of The Brotherhood are mistaking the reflections of their faces for that of God.
It is a shame The Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsy have chosen the course they have. They could have done a lot to help Islam and democracy in Egypt. The first step they should take is to remove ALL references in the new Constitution that restrict religious freedom in any way. The same with all articles that limit other freedoms. Let then lead by example. Let them provide freedom for the people, end corruption, really listen to differing opinions, and involve the people of Egypt in building what should be the richest country in the Middle East. Let them discuss with the clerics in the mosques to talk about more than women as evil, sex, and how terrible everyone else is. The Egyptian people need a message of hope, of God's forgiveness (remember it is "God, the most merciful and all compassionate" - not God a nasty old man who wants to send everyone to Hell). In other words, it is time for The Muslim Brotherhood to prove the good of Islam by their example, not words. Let them encourage Muslims to help Christians rebuild or renovate churches that have been neglected. Let them encouarge "brotherhood" dialogues and speak out when Muslims are in the wrong.
All the time I have been in the Middle East, I have never heard an Arab say, "We were wrong." The Brotherhood could lead a national dialogue in Egypt about how Egypt needs to change, what are traditions and what is religion. You cannot have a revolution without self-examination and an open discussion of the future and how to get there.
The youth who went to Tahir Square brought out the best of Egypt. I hope they do not have to go to the streets again because old men want to play old games and hold on to old power. The Muslim Brotherhood now faces a choice, lead Egypt into true freedom for ALL Egyptians or play the old political games and pave the way for the next bloody revolution. Your true religion is how you lead your life - not how you try to force other to lead theirs.