In Egypt, complicated religious politics threatens a nation

A son of the late Ammar Badie prays during his father’s funeral in al-Hamed mosque in Cairo’s Katameya district on … Continued


A son of the late Ammar Badie prays during his father’s funeral in al-Hamed mosque in Cairo’s Katameya district on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013. AP photo.


Ibrahim Negm is senior advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt

In the fog of conflict that has paralyzed Egypt over the past few days, contradictory narratives have emerged as to what precisely has transpired. Some have claimed that the sit-ins of the past six weeks were entirely peaceful demonstrations, while others argue that we are dealing with a terror organization. The events of July 3 are described in equally diametrically opposed terms: some deem it a military coup, while others consider it a popular revolt.

The array of arguments and evidences marshalled by each side are bewildering, but amidst it all, one principle remains inviolate: All violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This is a basic, bedrock value on which there can be no compromise, and to which all parties must agree.

I call on all sides in this conflict to put the interests of the nation ahead of personal interests. This is the only viable way to restore safety and security to the people of Egypt. The situation is quickly spiraling out of control, and the death and destruction of the past few days is heartbreaking in its scope and magnitude.

We have seen inexcusable violence against Christians and their churches. We have seen peaceful protests end in scenes of slaughter. We have seen those claiming the mantle of Islam turn violent in response to the magnitude of threats against them. It is unacceptable that our fellow citizens should be subjected to such danger. It should be the demand of every citizen that those who have perpetrated such violence be brought to full justice for their crimes.

We must stand against the manipulation of religion for sectarian and political aims, whether this is done by organized forces or by individuals who seek to take advantage of the situation to advance their own agendas. This is dangerous behavior and rhetoric which only inflames passions. It only leads to more destruction, and turns more people against them. It is unacceptable, and must be condemned for the thuggery and violence that it is. All such vigilanteism must stop immediately and unconditionally. Such actions can never be a basis for democracy.

It has also been troubling to see the reaction among the international community. In many cases, there has been a premature rush to judgment at a time in which things remain tense and unresolved, and passions remain high. In the absence of an impartial and independent investigation into this week’s events, strong statements from international governments, media and agencies only serve to further muddy the waters, and often pose challenges to the ultimate goal of a cessation of violence. Whatever becomes of Egypt after this period of crisis, one this is certain: It must succeed. Its contributions and history speak for themselves. Egypt is much more than its ousted presidential figure. It is a nation of richness, culture and sincerity. It is a nation made by its people, genuine and dedicated. Moreover, it is of crucial political importance in the region. It is in the interest of all involved in the international community to do its utmost to help ensure its stability and prosperity.

It is also important to acknowledge at this juncture the crucial role played by the armed forces in, asserting their respect for and unity with the Egyptian people, ensuring that the welfare of the nation transcends all.

Egypt today is at an extremely sensitive moment. All parties must realize this, and avoid pushing the country toward further chaos. The Brotherhood must also come to the realization that there existed and is existing significant opposition to their year of rule in the past and their dangerous move to carry arms against their fellow citizens. The collective will of the people must be respected and taken seriously if we are to move forward with solutions to this impasse. Engaging in violence now will only entrench Egyptians’ suspicion of Islamism, and further polarize a dangerously divided country. What we need now is an inclusive political process, not one that resorts to security measures alone. I pray that this day arrives soon, for the country cannot afford many more days of destruction.

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  • leibowde84

    An Islamic Democracy is an impossibility. If Democracy is ever going to work in Egypt, the government must adhere to the absolute separation of Church and State. Otherwise, the government will continually collapse. We merely need to find a non-violent way to enforce the ideal that Islam can not play any part in governmental decisions.

  • leibowde84

    And the destiny of those who can’t deal with this is already secured … and deserved.

  • ThomasBaum

    Since islam by its very nature is as much if not more political than religious what is so complicated about pointing out this fact?

    Is this why part of the title of the article is “complicated religious politics”?

    It is not “complicated” but it may be inconvenient.

    Isn’t it one of the very tenets of islam that the “peace” that islam means is when all are muslims or at least kowtow to islam?

    Seeing as the article states that “Ibrahim Negm is senior advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt”, does one think that he would advise the “Grand Mufti” to go against one of the very tenets of islam?

    Islam is about world domination in every aspect of a person’s life and this is what the “peace” spoken of in islam is about, when everyone is brought under the islam umbrella, so to speak, and to espouse something different is a lie, is not this “lie” one of the lies that is perfectly alright to do in islam and not just perfectly alright, but called for?

    If one wishes to be a Muslim, one has every right to be a Muslim and if one does not wish to be a Muslim, one has every right to not be a Muslim and also has the right to not be under any type of islamic domination.