At the time I was writing this column, the High Election Commission had not yet announced the official results. However, based on unofficial results published in the media, Morsi is the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history.
However, as the results of the elections last week were being announced, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took action to seize the powers of parliament in an attempt to send a message to Morsi and restricted the powers of the president; this was taken as the initial sign of a fierce struggle and competition between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The basic problem in Egypt, as has been the case in Turkey for many years, stems from the doubters who endlessly question the Muslim Brotherhood’s pledge to democracy. For many years, liberal and secular circles in Turkey have argued that the main goal of the religious groups was to introduce Sharia in the country. The fears and prejudices concerning religious people and groups were characterized grotesquely by fabricated images of a Muslim, particularly in Turkish movies, who had an ugly beard, never smiled, was hostile to technology, had two or three wives, lied all the time and was vengeful. By this characterization, the mind of the people was set to feel enmity towards religious groups and people.
But didn’t Islamist politicians play a role in the fears of secular and liberal circles? They certainly did. Some Islamist political leaders who assumed that they were representatives of Islam provoked other segments of society via their messages and statements and exacerbated the overall situation.
In Turkey a prime minister referred to imam-hatip schools as his party’s backyard to a group of religious leaders who were visiting him. Sometimes they provoked the people by saying, “We will come to power, but it is not certain whether it will be bloody or not” and “University rectors will bow before girls wearing headscarves.”
Such acts and moves provoked the deep state that was made up of the military, intelligence, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, businessmen and even terror organizations and led to a deadlock in the state system and democratic process.
Were there skeptics (doubters) in the Islamic circles? There were indeed. Some leading intellectuals of the Islamist groups who saw liberal and leftist segments as enemies of Islam labeled them as Jews, Masons or non-Muslims, and sometimes identified them as traitors. There is still a lack of confidence between these two parties.
Egypt is now experiencing the 80-year-long struggle that Turkey has been experiencing.
The power struggle that started in the aftermath of Hosni Mubarak’s removal from power is becoming more visible. The basis of the struggle is a lack of confidence. Based on weak factual ground and only assumptions or scenarios, liberals and seculars argue that the Islamic circles, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, will change the country into a religious state, while the religious groups accuse the other groups of plotting against them.
Both sides should reconsider their attitudes. The Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is pretty similar to the National View movement in Turkey, is not a radical organization despite some of its flaws. Its radical aspects will disappear over time. The young segments of the movement are integrated into the world. Once young generations acquire greater control within the movement, the hawkish stance and attitudes will naturally be eliminated.
Unlike their counterparts in Turkey, liberal and leftist organizations in Egypt are pretty moderate and consensual. Such groups in Turkey hold serious prejudices against religion and particularly against Islam; besides, they lack the proper knowledge and information concerning Islam.
However, the average liberals and left-wingers in Egypt are more religious than pious people in Turkey, and they have an extensive knowledge of Islam. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood does not need to be afraid of them, and liberals and leftists in Egypt do not need to be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Therefore, achieving a solution and consensus in Egypt is much easier than finding a solution in Turkey because the majority of the members of these groups pray side by side. We have seen this in the demonstrations held in Tahrir. The whole world has witnessed religious people, liberals and seculars perform Friday prayer together. Even the Christians have joined this nice chorus.
In conclusion, I can say that the problem in Egypt is not about religion or secularism, but it is all about the eagerness of some groups to preserve their privileged status and interests.