I have to admit that I am worried about the Muslim Brotherhood’s growing influence and power here in my Egypt. However, before jumping to conclusions, we first need to know everything about them in order to be aware of what we are dealing with.
But before I begin discussing the Muslim Brotherhood, I first need to answer the question: What is Islam? It is important to establish what Islam is in order to have a clear understanding of what Islam is not. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root Salam: Peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law.
Trust me when I say that my Islam is a religion of peace and it is innocent of all these shameful acts that use Islam as a cover for terror. I am a man who believes that peace is the only path for all mankind. I am a very proud Muslim and I thank Allah every day for my Islam; however, I strongly believe that religion must not be used as a tool for political gain or public manipulation. Religion is exclusively between people and their God, and it should stay that way.
Which leads me to address the unprecedented reception the Muslim Brotherhood has received here in Egypt. I believe that Brotherhood’s enormous popularity stems partly from their manipulation of the naivete of the Egyptian public: they present themselves as the path to heaven. Because of the corruption of Mubarak`s regime, Egypt now has high rates of poverty and low education. In place of education, Egyptians have religion; the Brotherhood is well aware of this fact and is using it toward their own ends.
Hassan Al Banna and the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood was not always a political organization. The organization was first established by Hassan Al Banna in March of 1928. At the time, it was only one of many small Islamic associations that existed to promote religious awareness and advance charitable initiatives. By the late 1930s, the Muslim Brotherhood had increased sizably, with branches established in every Egyptian province. This expansion saw the Brotherhood take on a political edge.
I believe that Al Banna was very smart in his dealings with the Egyptian public and the manipulation of their emotions. He linked the absence of Islam with British military presence and British economic domination in Egypt. The public utilities owned by foreign interests and the luxurious residences of the foreign employees of the Suez Canal Company created a stark juxtaposition posed beside the squalid houses of Egyptian workers.
By 1940, the organization reached 500,000 active members and had supporters everywhere in Egypt.
Militarization, dangerous friendships and survival tactics
Until 1939, Al Banna was very clear about abstaining from violence in any form. However, after internal conflict over this policy, the Brotherhood established its first military wing called the Secret Apparatus.
During WWII, the Muslim Brotherhood''s official position was against Egyptian involvement in the British war effort. However, according to a number of declassified documents from British, American and Nazi sources, the organization harbored strong ties with the Nazis. This relationship involved violent acts against the British such as espionage, sabotage and assassinations.
I think that these secret dealings with the Nazis were based on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is a friend. Modern day ramifications are clear: Who is the enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood today? And with whom are they willing to make rather dangerous friendships in the name of defeating this enemy?
I believe that theircontemporary enemies are secular and liberal people like myself. Liberal factions in Egypt are calling for the separation of religion and politics. We are calling for a secular Egypt that does not practice any religious discrimination or persecution.