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Friday, May 11, 2012
Jihad Comes To Egypt
By Raymond Ibrahim
Salafist preacher, Mohamed Hasan - Al-Shrouk
Egypt's presidential elections take place later this month, last weekend's
Islamist clash with the military could not have come at a worse time.
the story: due to overall impatience—and rage that the Salafi presidential
candidate, Abu Ismail, was disqualified (several secular candidates were also
disqualified)—emboldened Islamists began to gather around the Defense Ministry
in Abbassia, Cairo, late last week, chanting jihadi slogans, and preparing for
a "million man" protest for Friday, May 4th.
Egypt's Al Ahram put it, "Major Egyptian Islamist parties and
groups—including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafist Calling and Al-Gamaa
Al-Islamiya—have issued calls for a Tahrir Square demonstration on Friday under
the banner of 'Saving the revolution.' … Several non-Islamist revolutionary
groups, meanwhile, have expressed their refusal to participate in the
event." In other words, last Friday was largely an Islamist protest (even
though some in the Western media still portray it as a "general"
in front of the Defense Ministry, the Islamists exposed their true face—exposed
their hunger for power, their unpatriotic motivations, and their political
ineptitude. For starters, among those leading the protests was none other than
Muhammad al-Zawahiri, a brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a
seasoned jihadi in his own right, who was only recently acquitted and released
from prison, where, since 1998, he was incarcerated "on charges of
undergoing military training in Albania and planning military operations in
the Friday protest, Zawahiri appeared "at the head of hundreds of
protesters," including "dozens of jihadis," demonstrating in
front of the Defense Ministry. They waved banners that read, "Victory or
Death" and chanted "Jihad! Jihad!"—all punctuated by cries of
"Allahu Akbar!" Likewise, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya—the group responsible
for slaughtering some 60 European tourists in the 1997 Luxor Massacre—was at
the protests. Even the so-called "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood
lessons emerge here: 1) an Islamist is an Islamist is an Islamist: when it
comes down to ideology, they are one; 2) Violence and more calls to jihad are
the fruits of clemency—the thanks Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces
(SCAF) gets for releasing such Islamists imprisoned during ousted President
Hosni Mubarak's tenure.
for the actual protests (which, as one might expect from the quality of its
participants, quickly turned savage) this Egyptian news clip shows bearded
Salafis wreaking havoc and screaming jihadi slogans as they try to break into
the Defense Ministry, homemade bombs waiting to be used, and a girl in black
hijab savagely tearing down a security barbed-wire—the hallmarks of a jihadi
tellingly, jihadis in the nearby Nour Mosque opened fire on the military from
the windows of the minaret; and when the military stormed the mosque, apprehending
the snipers, all the Muslim Brotherhood had to say was: "We also condemn
the aggression [from the military] against the house of God (Nour Mosque) and
the arrest of people from within"—without bothering to denounce the terror
such people were committing from within 'the house of God."
is worthwhile contrasting this episode with last year's Maspero massacre, when
Egypt's Coptic Christians demonstrated because their churches were constantly
being attacked. Then, the military burst forth with tanks, intentionally
running Christians over, killing dozens, and trying to frame the Copts for the
violence (all of which was quickly exposed as lies). Likewise, while some
accuse the Copts of housing weapons in their churches to "conquer"
Egypt, here is more evidence that mosques are stockpiled with weapons.
any rate, what was billed as a "protest" was quickly exposed as
Islamists doing their thing—waging jihad against the infidel foe. Yet this
time, their foe was the Egyptian army; as opposed to SCAF—the entrenched, and
largely disliked, ruling military council—the Egyptian army is popular with
one Egyptian political activist put it, "The public doesn't differentiate
between Salafists, Wahhabis or Muslim Brotherhood any more. They are all
Islamists. They have lost support with the public, it is irreversible.
Egyptians have seen their army and soldiers being attacked. It has stirred a
lot of emotions." A BBC report concurs: "The army holds a special,
respected place in Egyptian society, and as far as many Egyptians were
concerned it was attacked, not by a foreign enemy, but by Islamists…. One
soldier died in the attack. Egyptian TV also showed dramatic pictures of
remarks of an Egyptian news anchorwoman as she showed such violent clips are
further noteworthy. In dismay, she rhetorically asked: "Who is the enemy?
They [protesters] are calling for jihad against whom? Are our soldiers being
attacked by Israeli soldiers—or is it our own people attacking them? Why don't
you go fight the Israeli enemy to liberate Palestine! Who are you liberating
Egypt from? This is unacceptable. Do you people want a nation or do you want
constant jihad—and a jihad against whom, exactly"?
place her comments in context, known that, in Egypt, jihadis are often
portrayed as the "good guys"—fighting for Egypt's honor, fighting to
"liberate Palestine," and so on—while Israel is portrayed as the
natural recipient of jihad. After Friday's violent clash, however, Egyptians are
learning that no one is immune from the destructive forces of jihad, including
Egypt itself and its guardian, the military. Two weeks before the presidential
elections, perhaps voters are also learning that an Islamist president will
bring only more chaos and oppression—just like his followers on display last
Friday. Time will tell.
-This commentary was published by Middle East Forum on 10/05/2012
-Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and
an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum