by Khalid Amayreh*

        Notwithstanding the legitimacy of some of its demands, the Egyptian opposition has very modest chances to beat the Islamist camp in any free and fair elections under present circumstances.
       The National Salvation Front (NSF) is the main entity encompassing opposition to the Islamists. It often projects itself as a united and homogenous body. However a closer look into it suggests a heterogeneous group comprising cacophonic components that are only united by its hostility to the Islamists.
       Indeed, what makes an odd couple like Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi and ultra-Libertarian like Muhammed el-Barda’i coalesce in one front, other than their sullen hostility to the Ikhwan?
       In fact, el-Barda’i’s declared philosophy has more to do with the Miltonian political philosophy and the Areopagitica than it do with Islam or Nasserism. His undeclared ideas could be too exotic and anomalous if judged according to the general principles of Islam.
       The man who had the audacity to suggest establishing places of worship for Buddhists and Hindus when there is virtually a zero population of the adherents of Buddhism and Hinduism in Egypt could conceivably embark on many eyebrow-raising feats, such as advocating homosexual and civil marriages as well as women’s rights to have multi-sex partners.
      The man apparently thoroughly imbibed western values and it would be really hard to re-indoctrinate him in things Arab and even Egyptian.
       For obvious political and public relations reasons, the co-leader of NSF can’t reveal all he has in his libertarian depository.
      The NSF lists a host of contentious issues and demands it says must be met by the government before agreeing to suspend its disruptive protests in the Egyptian streets.

“Red herrings”

      However, in the honest opinion of this writer, most of these issues and demands are more or less “red herrings” which are meant to obfuscate the real issue: Rejection of what the opposition calls “political Islam.”
      The opposition makes a lot of clamor about the recently-approved constitution. However, an honest reading of this constitution fails to show the “horrendous and unacceptable violations of an Egyptian citizen’s rights and dignity.”
       In fact, the vociferous ranting of the opposition, constantly parroted by a shockingly biased media, is unreasonable to say the least. In short, the real issue is not the constitution. The real issue behind the demonstrations has more to do with the opposition’s undeclared refusal to accept the rule of the ballot box, especially if and when that box breeds the Islamists.
      The opposition claims, utterly falsely, that the Ikhwan are promoting a fascist government. Well, this is a pornographic lie. Today, Egyptians for the first time in 5000 years can demonstrate really freely, call their elected leader “Hitler” and “Nazi” as well as attack his presidential palace with Molotov cocktails without being riddled with bullets.
       Do we remember that poor Egyptian who was instantly shot and killed several years ago upon approaching president Mubarak’s motorcade, probably to hand the former tyrant a small paper stating his grievances?

Democratically-elected presidents: Mursi vs Obama

      Last week, thousands of Egyptian demonstrators shouted “Irhal, Irhal, Irhal,” meaning leave, outside the Ittahadiya palace in Cairo. Well, what sort of political culture do these people have. Are democratically-elected presidents in any self-respecting countries asked to leave office a few months after the elections?
      Can we imagine thousands of Americans converge at the White House, hurling firebombs and stones and shouting at President Obama “leave, leave, leave?”
      President Mursi may not be the best president Egypt could elect. But he is the legitimate president of the country and he has the right to complete his term. Yes, hundreds of thousands have been demonstrating against him. But a silent majority of tens of millions of people are still giving him the benefit of the doubt.
     Two months ago, the opposition thought the president’s popularity had gone down the drain, prompting its decision to take part in the referendum over the constitution.
     However, the fact that nearly 65% of eligible voters, who bothered to cast their votes, voted in favor of the draft constitution showed that Mursi was more popular then than when he was first elected in June, 2012.
       This is because the mid-December referendum was effectively a referendum over the performance of the president, thanks to hostile campaign of delegitimization and vilification precedent the polls.

Cheap opportunism

       I know that the opposition in general as well as many ordinary Egyptians are overwhelmed with frustration and indignation over the slow pace of political and economic reforms promised by the revolution.
      I also understand that the economic situation is very bad. However, the disruptive nature of the opposition’s activity, especially its cheap opportunism, is derailing and endangering the march of the country toward a brighter future.
      In truth, the destructive behavior of some segments of the opposition would give the impression that there are certain people in Egypt who would rather see Egypt fail than the Ikhwan succeed.
      Well, if Egypt failed, God forbid, then no political group or coalition of groups would succeed. Everyone would lose, irrespective of whose voice was louder and whose patriotic credentials were more authentic.
       I don’t like to entertain the idea that there Egyptians as such. Such people would be Egypt’s enemies as well as their own enemies. They must be stopped at all costs, not looked upon as seasoned allies in the battle against the “Islamist ghoul.”
      This is why I believe the opposition must give the president the full opportunity to succeed. It is ethically indefensible to impede and disrupt the president and then complain about the lack of progress. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the opposition is doing. They seem to hate the Ikhwan more than they love Egypt.

“Political Islam”

       A final point. Some of the opposition figures keep invoking the term “political Islam,” as if the term were a source of shame to the Islamists. Well, political Islam is not the invention of the Ikhwan or other Islamists. It is rather solidly rooted in Islam and its holy scripture, the Quran.
      I am not going to discuss certain arguments made by anti-Islam secularists who claim that the rule of Sharia is not a must upon Muslims and that Muslims might opt for modern Western-style democracy without violating the tenets of their faith. These arguments are quite nonsense even for first grade Muslim children.
       But I do want to point out that one can not reject political Islam as a matter of principle, without rejecting Islam itself.
       Yes, one might disagree with certain Islamist modalities, behaviors and interpretations. We all reject the violence and terror committed in the name of religion. And we all would like to see a kinder and gentler practice of Islam everywhere.
      But we must never allow ourselves as Muslims to compromise the main principles of our faith in order to appear more in tune with the age and more acceptable to the West. (T/P02/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

* Khalid Amayreh is a journalist living in Palestine. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983. Since the 1990s, Mr. Amayreh has been working and writing for several news outlets among which is, Al-Ahram Weekly, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), and Middle East International. He can be reached through  [email protected]

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