Academics speak of occupation in political history as a bygone era of global politics. The ethno-centric empires of Europe no longer exist (with the exception of the British Empire, but it exists today only as a relic of an old era), but other empires exist mostly in the form of economic, financial empires dominated by state investors and multi-national corporations.
But this is not what I want to talk about today. Today, I want to show you an example of how the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence and dominance in Egypt can be labelled as an occupation of a colonial character. Before I give my 2 cents on this, allow me to introduce this cheeky fellow (watch from 0:12-0:36):
Due to his righteous beard and the overall good stature that he presents in this video (for those not fluent in sarcasm, please note that I have better taste in beards), I will do my best to correctly translate what he says in this video:
I say to Mohamed Morsi, if you don’t apply Allah’s law, we will rise against you. The most important thing to us is the Sharia’h, […] We are the descendants of the Prophet, and the descendants of his companions, and who ever doesn’t like this, can go straight to hell. He can go to America and to their masters [the Jews]!.
Aside from the fact that this guy is just a bundled-up package of joy and happiness for everyone around him, think about what he’s saying. I mean, technically, he’s not wrong: Egypt does have a tradition and history in Islam…but it doesn’t even begin to compare to the extensive history of Pharaonic Egypt that this guy (and his friends) are trying to supercede with their version of Islam. His brand of Islam did not even have favour in the early parts of the 20th century in Egypt:
The literate theologians of Al-Azhar University generally rejected the version of Islam practiced by illiterate religious preachers and peasants in the countryside. Most upper- and upper-middle-class Muslims believed either that religious expression was a private matter for each individual or that Islam should play a more dominant role in public life. Islamic religious revival movements, whose appeal cut across class lines, were present in most cities and in many villages. [Source: Wikipedia – Islam in Egypt]
This means that the brand of Islam that the Brotherhood are trying to practice cannot even be linked to the mainstream Islamic traditions in Egypt – meaning that it can only be linked to this brand of Islam that began to rear its ugly head in the 1970s after Sadat released them from state prisons.
So if you think about it, this guy is claiming that a small group of ethno-centric, socially ultra-conservative, violent and undemocratic religious clerics (who have apparently never cracked open a history book) have every right to rule a country where they can claim a presence only for the past 40 years or so, and whoever doesn’t like it can “go straight to hell”.
Forgive me if my comparison irritates some people, but this is oddly similar to the mentality that colonialists took when colonizing African societies and imposing foreign ideologies and laws on a native society. The Brotherhood has also established a new version of the “White Man’s Burden” by making it their explicit goal to kick-start “Egypt’s Renaissance Phase” by coupling it with their all-encompassing motto “Islam is the Solution”. This assumes that Islam is the ONLY solution, and further assumes that the Brotherhood’s interpretation of Islam is the only way to go about achieving that solution.
Who said the Brotherhood hasn’t accomplished anything? In just a few short months, they’ve managed to bring Egypt back to the kind of colonialism that other African societies were facing in the early 20th century. I can’t wait until we see the effects of the constitution kick in, so we can see what it feels like to live in a medieval society.
Who needs time travel anymore?