Sisi Is Just Another Caliphate-Idealizing Apologist For Islam Whose In-Actions Speak Louder Than His Hollow Words

Sisi_Salafists

Zabibah Brothers: Nour Party Salafists supported Sisi because he was deemed “faithful to the Sharia”

Despite the gushing over Egyptian President Sisi’s New Years Day, 2015 speech (to Al-Azhar University and the Awqaf Ministry), I will remain entirely unimpressed until his rhetoric can be: (I) reconciled with Sisi’s support for Islam’s Caliphate system, accompanied by his vociferous denunciation of Western secularism; (II) matched by concrete actions which demonstrate he is willing to oppose the ongoing application, for example, of Sharia “blasphemy” law directed at hapless Coptic Christians in his own beloved Egypt.

Our learned analysts might wish to remember that Sisi’s Zabibah Brothers-in-Arms (see this 2011 discussion of the Egyptian Zabibah-stan), the Nour Party “Salafists,” supported his Presidential candidacy because Sisi was deemed “faithful to the Sharia.” Nour, at that time, even sloganized, “Together hand in hand we build the country through religion.”

During an August 2013 interview, Sisi proffered this flimsy apologetic for Islam, which in essence differs little from what he opined January 1, 2015:

I want to tell you that those so-called Islamists have done harm to the image of Islam. Those who seem to be keen on religion have harmed Islam like never before. Islam is now synonymous to killing, blood and destruction. We have to assess the situation in an objective way and see how the world and other countries see Islam. The problem is definitely with implementation, not with the approach. It is implementation that has done harm to Islam.

Sisi’s 2006 U.S. Army War College “mini-thesis”—which had to be obtained via FOIA request over Sisi’s apparent objections—romanticized the “democratic” Caliphate system, and unequivocally decried Western secularism, as I described in August 2013:

Key extracts are reproduced, below:

{As documented [2] earlier and re-affirmed in an e-mail exchange below with the U.S. Army War College Library’s acting director, I was first unable to obtain a copy of al-Sisi’s thesis from the Inter-Library Loan office due to its “classification” status:

From: Acting Director,  U.S. Army War College Library

Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 12:09 PM
To: Andrew Bostom
Cc: USARMY Carlisle Barracks AWC Mailbox LIBRARYR; USARMY Carlisle Barracks AWC Mailbox LIBRARYC
Subject: RE: Thesis via Inter-Library Loan/pdf?

Sir, The U.S. Army War College Library is not able to fill your request. The paper’s caveat, “Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies only,” means it cannot be released to individuals or libraries outside the federal government.

The War College Library’s initial rejection [2] of my request Friday prompted a Freedom of Information Act demand [3] for its release by Judicial Watch, which was honored [4] Thursday, August 8, 2013 (thesis available here [5]) — albeit some hours after the thesis had inexplicably appeared online at Foreign Policy.

..I agree with the crux of Professor Springborg’s original (7/28/13) analysis [9], despite certain ambiguities in al-Sisi’s presentation, inserted, in my estimation, by design, to allow for “flexible,” contingent interpretations of the general’s words. Springborg’s Foreign Affairs essay did include [9] the following apposite, if rather understated, final commentary on al-Sisi’s romanticized depiction of the Caliphate:

Apologists for Islamic rule sometimes suggest that these concepts are inherently democratic, but in reality they fall far short of the democratic mark.

What are the key ideological statements—verbatim—in al-Sisi’s mini-thesis [5], totaling a mere 11 pages of text, with an additional 2 pages, containing 31 footnotes? In the section (from pp. 3-6) entitled “The Conception of Democracy from [an] Islamic Perspective,” al-Sisi most clearly (although hardly without inherent ambiguity!) articulates his Weltanschauung, as follows [4]:

Democracy, as a secular entity, is unlikely to be favorably received by the vast majority of Middle Easterners, who are devout followers of the Islamic faith.…Although concerns exist, for the most part, the spirit of democracy, or self-rule, is viewed as a positive endeavor so long as it builds up the country and sustains the religious base, versus devaluing religion and creating instability.

Democracy cannot be understood in the Middle East without an understanding of the concept of El Kalafa [the Caliphate]. El Kalafa dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. During his life and the seventy year period that followed the ideal state of El Kalafa existed as a way of life among the people and within the governing bodies. This period of time is viewed as a very special period and is considered the ideal form of government and it is widely recognized as the goal for any new form of government very much in the manner that the U.S. pursued the ideals of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” From the Middle Eastern perspective, the defining words governing their form of democracy would likely reflect “fairness, justice, equality, unity and charity.”

Related to the El Kalafa are the roles of the Elbia and Elshorah. [Note: Both Springborg [9] and Trager [20] modify al-Sisi’s confused discussion of these two concepts] Both of these processes were represented in the early years of the Muslim faith and therefore considered important and respected processes. The Elbaya’a [Elbia] is the election process for choosing the El Kalifa, while the El Shorah [is the] advisory and oversight body to the El Kalifa or Califate [Caliphate]. The El Shorah performs its role from a religious viewpoint, in that it ensures that the Califate [Caliph] is carrying out his duties in accordance with Islamic teachings. Although these processes have religious historical ties, they also represent processes by which a democracy can emerge.

Given the religious nature of the Middle Eastern culture, how might a Middle Eastern democracy [be] structured? Will there be three or four branches of government? Should a religious branch be added to the executive, legislative and judicial branches to ensure that Islamic beliefs and law are followed? A simple answer might be yes, but that is probably not the best means. Ideally, the legislative, executive, and judicial branches should all take Islamic beliefs into consideration when carrying out their duties. As such, there should be no need for a separate religious branch. However, to codify the major themes of the Islamic faith, they should be represented in the constitution or similar document. [Note: See subsequent discussion of the constitutional road map issued [21] July 8, 2013, under al-Sisi’s aegis] This does not mean a theocracy will be established, rather it means a democracy will be established built upon Islamic beliefs.

Al-Sisi equivocates [4] on Hamas, insisting defiantly, at first (on p.5), that Western support of “democracy” must include,

…allowing some factions that may be considered radical particularly if they are supported by a majority through a legitimate vote. The world cannot demand democracy in the Middle East, yet denounce what it looks like because a less than pro-Western party legitimately assumes office. For example, the Palestinans recently elected members from the Hamas group. This group is not on favorable terms with the US or other Western countries, yet they have [been] legitimately elected. It is now up to Hamas and the rest of the world to work out their differences.

Subsequently (on p. 9), al-Sisi acknowledges [4]:

As groups such as Hamas emerge, they are likely to reach power through democratic means, but may not fully represent the population, particularly the religious moderates, who they [also?] represent. So even with an elected Hamas, there are likely to be internal governance challenges down the road; however there is hope that the more moderate religious segments can mitigate extremist measures.

But al-Sisi never retrenches [4] on his anti-secularism, frontally attacking even governments that “tend toward secular rule,” and their media mouthpieces, for allegedly “fomenting” Islamic religious extremism (on p. 9).

The control of the media by government further presents problems to moderate Muslims. The media is managed via a secular philosophy. The secular media secures control for the government and further disenfranchises the religious moderates. It spreads a philosophy of liberal living that many moderate Muslims do not support and it also provides a vehicle for extremists to exploit because it enables them to relate to the religious moderates on a shared theme. This has the effect of strengthening the extremist philosophy.}

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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