Islamistene vinner frem i Egypt sakte, men sikkert, fordi de er bedre organisert, fordi de snakker folk etter munnen, fordi de har masse penger som de bruker til å fø og ta seg av de fattige. Rundt halvparten lever under fattigdomsgrensen, er det rart de er takknemelige?

Ikke minst den vanskelige økonomien gir Det muslimske Brorskap stort spillerom.

De snakker nå om muligheten for å vinne flertall ved høstens parlamentsvalg, gjerne i samarbeid med andre islamistpartier, som det også finnes flere av.

Islamisme er ikke bare én ting, ikke bare Brorskapet, men et miljø som vokser frem.

Militærstyret er også fristet til å samarbeide med Brorskapet og islamistene. De vet hva de får. Islam gir trygge rammer.

At det også betyr vold og sekterisme overfor andre grupper, både politiske motstandere og religiøse mindretall, betyr mindre.

Yasmine El Rashidi har en interessant artikkel om utviklingen i Egypt i våres i New York Review of Books. Tittelen sier det meste: Egypt: The Victorious Islamists.

Hun besøker Jomfru Maria-kirken i forstaden Imbaba. Her angrep salafister 8. mai, under påskudd av at kirken holdt en konvertert kvinne fanget. De kom bevæpnet. Medier som kaller dette «sammenstøt» tar angripernes parti, for hvordan kan man kalle selvforsvar for «sammenstøt»? Eller skulle de kristne latt seg slakte?

De kristne vil forsvare sine kirker, hvis de ikke gjør det står de selv for tur.

Kopterne nektet å godta at en kirke kan raseres uten konsekvenser. De samlet seg utenfor TV-huset i hjertet av Kairo. Mange kirker er stengt etter at de militære overtok styret. Demonstrantene ville markere motstand mot utviklingen.

Copts have been outraged at the ruling military council’s lenient response to other recent incidents of violence against them. In March, armed thugs bulldozed a church on the outskirts of Cairo to its foundations, allegedly over an illicit relationship between a Coptic man and a Muslim woman. This led to riots and clashes that left thirteen people dead and 140 wounded. No arrests were made and no one was charged.

Myndighetene intervenerer til slutt, men etter at skaden er skjedd og hvis noen arresteres slippes de ut etter en tid, uten oppstyr.

Demonstrantene utenfor TV-huset holdt ut, til tross for varmen og bøller som angrep dem om natten. Militærstyret lovte å gjenåpne noen kirker. Siden har det tilsynelatende vært rolig. Men kopterne føler ikke at faren er over.

Riktignok ble det bevilget penger til å sette istand igjen Jomfru Maria-kirken, men guvernøren bruker en del av pengene som var øremerket kirken på moskeen på den andre siden av gaten. Den blir også pusset opp, for de kristnes penger.

Derfor føler ikke de kristne at faren er over. De føler tvertimot at utviklingen går i én retning, og den er ikke gunstig for dem.

Still, within Egypt’s Christian-minority community—which accounts for some 10 percent of the country’s 82 million people—the fear of further incidents of violence and persecution has not subsided, and daily life remains strained. Many Copts I have spoken to say they are considering emigrating to the US or Canada and seeking political asylum on the basis of religious persecution, though many also feel they have an obligation to stay in Egypt to “look after the churches and monasteries.” “The media quiet is deceptive,” Father Sarabamon—the pastor of Imbaba’s Virgin Mary Church—told me on June 5 as I sat with him on the ground floor of the church. Final touches of reconstruction were being put in place, among them a new protective metal fence surrounding the building. “There are no sizable attacks,” he said,

but each week there are incidents of women having the cross grabbed from their necks as they walk in the streets. In this very neighborhood people are still being insulted as they leave church; and we still have young girls disappearing, kidnapped, being harassed for what they are wearing or for bearing the cross tattooed on their wrists.

As Father Sarabamon—who has been a priest at the church since the 1970s—spoke, men and women streamed in, kissing his hand, offering donations. Many shed tears at the sight of the renovated church. The father told some young women to cover themselves up or remove their crosses. “There are hungry, angry people outside,” he warned them.

Of those arrested for the attacks in the Imbaba quarter, many have been released without sentences—including Salafis who had been seen on videos inciting violence against the churches. One had said about the Coptic Church, “It’s a mafia that harbors weapons.” Of those still under investigation, forty-eight have recently been referred to the Supreme Court for trials—among them many Copts. Only two of sixteen people arrested for attacking the Copt protesters during their thirteen-day sit-in received sentences—two years, with bail. “It’s telling. These are all simply gestures,” Father Sarabamon told me between his conversations with well-wishers. “The government has made the gesture of arrests, of trials, but when you look at action, nothing has happened. Even the churches they promised to reopen have not been opened.”

In the case of the Ain Shams church, which remains closed, two Copts were sentenced to five years in jail—for violence, possession of weapons, and trying to turn a factory into an unlicensed church. When I visited the neighborhood in early June, even Muslim residents said there had clearly been bias in this case. “There were thugs who should have been sentenced too,” one eyewitness to the violence told me.

Although the military council commissioned the district’s governor to oversee the church renovations in Imbaba, at a reported cost of close to $1 million, Father Sarabamon points out that some of that budget has gone elsewhere—across the street, to a mosque that is being refurbished too. “At our expense,” he said. The construction workers, sent by the governor’s office, can be seen moving back and forth between the mosque and the church. “The portion of the budget that has gone toward the mosque would have covered the electrical goods and equipment that are needed, but I don’t ask any questions,” the Father told me. The construction workers themselves wouldn’t reply when asked if they had formal instructions to work on the mosque. “There are definitely biases in how the military is handling things,” the former Coptic MP Mona Makram Ebeid told me recently.
…………

Folkeavstemningen i mars om tillegg til grunnloven og gjeninnsettelse av grunnloven fra 1971 så den merkelige konstellasjon at militærstyret og Brorskapet var på samme side. Liberale krefter fryktet at makten ble tatt ut av hendene på dem, at det ble lagt et løp som ville gå sin gang uavhengig av hva folk mente.

De liberale frykter at islamistene organiserer seg og intrigerer.

The referendum, which had set the military and the Muslim Brotherhood—the largest organized movement—against the liberals, exposed the first significant division in a movement for change that had otherwise united protesters during the eighteen days in Tahrir Square. In many ways it served as a harbinger of what was to come. Since then, the army has acted with leniency toward Islamists, and has moved forward in step with the Muslim Brotherhood, with which it has cut deals. As the longtime backbone of the regime, with its own broad economic interests to maintain, the army—so it is widely believed—wants to consolidate a status quo that it will dominate in years to come. It will do so in part by manipulating a parliament ready to cooperate with it. A retired general recently repeated to me what he has been saying during the past few months:

With the Brotherhood they [the military] know what they are getting, with remnants of the former regime they know what they are getting, but with revolutionaries and liberals, they don’t. The Brotherhood needs their approval just as the army needs the Brotherhood right now.

Of all the organized political movements and groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, its Freedom and Justice party, and its loose alliance of similarly conservative political entities—such as the recently approved Islamist al-Wasat party—are the only ones pushing for elections in September. Liberal opposition groups have called for their postponement, citing the need for more time to organize, but the military, so far, has said it will not change the date.

Brorskapet og de andre islamistene kjører sitt eget løp. De holder seg borte fra konferanser og demonstrasjoner som har andre rammer enn det de selv står for. De blander seg ikke. Det i seg selv er et statement om hva slags politikk de vil føre i fremtiden.

It is in part this growing influence of Islamist thinkers over Egypt’s political life—and the army’s apparent collusion with them—that is troubling the Coptic community as well as liberals. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has long been viewed as the greatest threat to a democratic regime, has increasingly stayed away from any attempts at unified action. It did not participate in the National Conference meeting on May 8—which gathered over one thousand participants from every other party and movement—claiming “work not talk” needed to be done ahead of the elections. It was later revealed that the Brotherhood hosted a joint conference with Salafis that same day; some 50,000 people reportedly showed up.

Brorskapet har den senere tid gjort et nummer av at de har både kristne medlemmer, bla Aftenposten ved Jørgen Lohne har slått opp denne nyfunne toleransen.

Brorskapets nestleder, den kjente, Issam al-Aryan (navnet skrives også Essam al-Erian), skrøt at at de hadde 900 kvinnelige medlemmer og nesten 100 koptiske. Men hvor forsvinnende lite er ikke det i en by på 20 millioner?

Lohne og Aftenposten slo opp at en kristen nå tilhører partiets ledelse. Men Rafiq Habib er spesiell. Han har en far som er kristen predikant. Mange mener han søker offentlighet og samarbeid med Brorskapet for å trosse faren. Det kommer ikke frem hos Aftenposten.

Walid al-Kubaisis film om Brorskapet møtte voldsom motbør fra kjente islamister i Norge, som Bazim Ghozlan og Usman Rana. Aftenpostens Kjersti Nipén hadde også lite godt å si.

Førsteamanuensis Bjørn Olav Utvik arrangerer seminar på Universitet i Oslo med Brorskapet hvor selveste Issam al-Aryan kommer.

Brorskapet har mao sine forsvarere i norsk offentlighet, og det skjer på statens bekostning.

Det er derfor grunn til å spørre om nordmenn vil få høre analyser om Egypt som er noe tilnærmet det Yasmin El Rashidi presenterer.

Den norske Kirke vil neppe. Vårt Land skriver en del om forfølgelsen av kristne. Men det å rette søkelyset mot den politiske legitimeringen av islamistene er noe annet, og farligere. Slik mister man muligheten til å danne en front mot islamiseringen som også brer seg i vårt eget samfunn.

Hvis man tar Brorskapets statements på deres face value, slik Aftenposten gjorde, blir man selv et propagandainstrument.

The Brotherhood made scathing statements against women and Copts soon after Mubarak’s ouster. Its leaders are now openly calling for an Islamic state, something they had previously denied was among its goals. “They will never change,” the outspoken newspaper editor Abdel Halim Qandil told a friend and me recently. “I don’t trust them. They are deceptive.” In a press report, the political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah described the Brotherhood’s recent appointments of Coptic members as “just for show…like flowers on the Brothers’ jackets.”

Islamistene føler seieren er deres.

Stéphane Lacroix, a scholar of Wahabism and Islamist movements, spent a large part of last year in Egypt researching the Salafi movement, and he has close relations with prominent Islamists. In early June he described intimate meetings and dinners he’d just had with some of the Salafist leaders. “In many ways the Salafi battle has been won,” he said. “Certainly the conservative one has. To people like Abou Elela Mady”—the leader of the al-Wasat party—”it’s a question of which of the conservatives can win more votes.”

Despite disagreements with its younger members, the Muslim Brotherhood seems confident that it will emerge victorious in September’s parliamentary elections. In February it said it would win no more than 20 percent of the seats; it is now—officially—aiming for 50 percent. Essam el-Erian recently told me, “But of course we want a majority or the largest percent we can get.” Through a coalition agreement with other Islamist groups, Lacroix said, this “seems increasingly likely.” With its outreach programs that offer free and subsidized food and services in the poorer neighborhoods, the Brotherhood’s popularity will likely only grow—in particular as inflation rises and prices go up. “They know they are in the strongest position,” Lacroix said. It is not unusual for those who are not keen on an Islamic state modeled on Saudi or Iran to point out that, with 40 percent of the population living beneath the poverty line, the Brotherhood’s previous slogan, “Islam is the answer,” has strong appeal.

Brorskapet har et image-problem. De er topptunge, autoritære og frontes av samme type menn i dress. De kommuniserer dårlig med ungdommen.

Her kommer ungdommelige salafister inn. De er mer moderne i formen, noen av dem, og kommuniserer på en annen måte. Dette kommer også Brorskapet til gode. Det hindrer de liberale å ta initiativet. Til syvende og sist havner stemmene i den konservative leieren.

Egypt: The Victorious Islamists
JULY 14, 2011
Yasmine El Rashidi