Sunday, December 11, 2011

Salafi Leader Bassem al-Zarqa Wants The Word "Civil" Clarified, Says All Egyptians Salafis

Salafis, those uber-conservative, ultra religious Saudi Arabian brand of Muslims that are poised to take control of the Egyptian government alongside their Muslim Brotherhood brothers refuse to get down with the word "civil", at least until they fully understand what it means.  So what exactly is their problem?  What I gather is that in post-revolution, post-Mubarak Egypt the liberals are battling the soon-to-be majority Islamists over a secular "civil" state versus a religious Sharia dominant Egypt. 

The Egyptian Salafi al-Nour Party, via  Bassem al-Zarqa (one of its members), recently told Al Arabiya News, that

“Salafis reject the use of the word ‘civil’ in a way that does not clarify what it entails and they are now trying to reach an understanding on its meaning with other political powers in Egypt."

“Salafism means following the teachings of the Prophet and his companions. It is based on those teachings that both religion and state were founded, so we can say that all Egyptians are Salafis.”

Wrong. Not all Egyptians are Salafis- there are a heck of a lot of Coptic Christians and secular-minded Muslims living in Egypt who would beg to differ, including Hani Nessira, an Egyptian writer. Nessira explains why Salafis have such a major problem with words like "civil" and "democracy":

“From the Salafi point of view, democracy and civil state mean giving people power over God’s laws and this for them is unacceptable. The creation of a civil state is part of Egypt’s history and it can be traced back to even before the 19th century.”

So, of course they would reject those words, because there is no room for democracy in an Islamist,  Shariah compliant country.  Unfortunately,  a non democratic, non "civil" Egypt would be most detrimental to the Copts who even under a predominately secular, civil state have been terribly persecuted over the decades.  Emad Gad, a Copt and member of  one of the more liberal political parties believes that the Salafis' have a problem with the word "civil"  because of their attitude towards non-Muslims living in Egypt.

“Salafis do not recognize the presence of Egyptian Christians and consider a Pakistani Muslim closer to them than an Egyptian Christian. Therefore, they undermine the principle of citizenship,” he said.
Well, if they believe that all Egyptians are Salafis (as al-Zarqa cleary stated), that doesn't leave room for
anyone else, does it.

According to Gad,  there have been

.... several fatwas issued by Salafi clerics and which label Christians apostates and prohibit dealing with them.

“The Salafi discourse is confused and has very dangerous implications which become clear in their statements about democracy as a form of apostasy.”

Gad wants the Salafis to be more upfront about their position on things like, free speech, freedom of religion, rotation of power- you know, all those democratic principles that the liberal activists fought so hard to achieve during their revolution in Tahrir Square.

“They also need to state whether they are willing to accept whatever the majority of Egyptian political powers agrees on or not,” he concluded.

I think it's a little too late, since the Islamists have pretty much won a majority in the elections there. And, somehow, I don't think the Salafis are ever going to come to terms with the word "civil".

No comments: