By Ibrahim Shukralla
Mohammed Badie, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was seen by many as Egypt’s de facto ruler during Mohammed Morsi’s presidency, told then-Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi: “Isn’t it enough that we’re still not in the Army?” It’s a stunning statement that bluntly unleashes his intent to control the state’s most respected and influential establishment.
This scene from Egyptian series The Choice 3, which might be the closest thing to Netflix series House of Cards, aired during Ramadan. It commemorates an era in Egyptian history that, if continued, would have made an already disastrous Middle East an even darker place today.
The Choice 3 depicts the leadership style of Morsi and his political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, during their rule between 2012 and 2013, presenting corrupt, power-hungry, irrational and impulsive dispositions. In two months, on June 30, Egypt will mark the ninth anniversary of the protests that led to Morsi’s ousting.
Our region, and the world at large, does not seem to welcome another theocratic, medieval, church-like regime like the Muslim Brotherhood, which for a time ruled the third-largest Arab economy, its largest population, and largest active military workforce.
If this regime were still in power, it would have instigated a terrorist, exclusion-centric doctrine at a time when the region has never been so desperate for stability, prosperity and peace in a deeply polarized world.
The Islamist party, which used the 2011 Arab Spring protests to seize power after Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, has been unable to deal with crises linked to critical shortages of water, electricity, gas and fuel, of which the ordinary people were largely affected.
Instead, the series features leaders of the party, most notably Deputy Supreme Leader Khairat El-Shater, who is engaged in a conspiracy against the then Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and Prosecutor Abdul Majid Mahmoud. aiming to replace them with officials close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gaining political gain and influence and staying in power were the ultimate goals.
The party believed only in loyalty to its ideologies, and thus wanted to marginalize those who were not loyal enough in the state’s key departments and units. Contrary to the notion they had been trying to sell, competence was not a key requirement: more important was adherence to the Muslim Brotherhood’s teachings and rules, and complete loyalty to its leaders.
A Christian couple in the series was ostracized from the community as the unfortunate circumstances created by the ruling party for non-Muslims – and particularly non-Brotherhood supporters – forced them to apply for immigration. The husband did not want to leave his country, but then his wife’s view convinced him that Egypt would not be the right country if they would one day have children.
In April 2013, when Morsi was still President, four Christians were killed in sectarian clashes. Subsequently, thousands of mourners were attacked and besieged by police and armed civilians as they attempted to leave the country’s largest cathedral.
The head of Egypt’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, has criticized Morsi’s “negligence” and failure to act to prevent such acts. Many analysts were surprised by the pope’s tone. However, the ideologies brought into the country by the ruling party were evidently linked to hate speech, xenophobia and the elimination of opponents. Contrary to what they had been propagating in the West, this was a poor man’s version of democracy – a mixture of theocracy and extreme autocracy. Separation of powers was not on the agenda for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that became clear when Morsi issued a constitutional declaration giving him sweeping powers over the judicial system, sparking anger among Egyptians.
To date, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Syria, Tajikistan and the Collective Security Treaty Organization have designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Former US President Donald Trump intended to classify them as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019.
“The Choice 3” is a political drama, but it reflects the dynamics of politics and socio-economics in Egypt during the roughly year-long rule of the Muslim Brotherhood under Morsi. The latter appeared in the series as weak, indecisive, and without the top-notch leadership skills and expertise to run a country like Egypt. Badie and his deputy Al-Shater (both currently in prison) appeared to be the main drivers behind Morsi’s important decisions.
This region needs more forward-looking, modern, tolerant and reformist leaders to rise and provide quality living standards to its citizens. It takes less politics and more hope for the youth to take constructive steps to build better nations. That was not planned under Morsi and his political cult.
- Ibrahim Shukralla is a Dubai-based Emirati journalist. He has interviewed many heads of state and high-profile figures in politics and sport. He has an MA in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in the USA. Twitter: @shukralla