Dark threat to the revolution

Abdel-Moneim Said , Tuesday 23 Aug 2011

Extremist Islam is rearing its head, seeking to create Kabul in Cairo, and to impose a vision on the people’s revolution

The entire region is giving up new secrets every day. The Arab region, and perhaps the entire Middle East, has become like an onion whereby every layer you peel off reveals another and so on, until you reach an enigma at the centre that you cannot solve as your eyes well with tears out of fear and desperation over an unknown future.

The truth that overshadows us is the first layer of Arab revolutions that the Western media has coined the “Arab Spring”, even though they all took place in winter and did not bloom into flowers or a pleasant breeze but sandstorms. Martyrs fell along with the regimes, while others still await the outcome of intense battles; foreign interference is present, and the second layer comes thick with signs of division and strife that some loath to awaken. But they have stirred and have become reality and are quickly taking us to an unknown destination.

The dilemma now —and perhaps this is the third layer —is what is acceptable of revolutions born from the wombs of regimes that were unable to adapt or progress in a timely fashion and remained stagnant too long. It reveals a fear of what was omnipresent, namely in the belly of healthy young benign democratic revolutions there is a cancer that some of us portray as a “terror” manipulated by previous regimes to extend their existence and corruption, while others thought it had left us to other countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and the land of the Great Satan.

But the cancer has arrived here, in Sinai, on the border between Egypt and each of Palestine and Israel. For the first time since signing the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, heavy Egyptian forces were needed to uncover jihadist groups that view the state, ruler and officials as heretics and that fighting this status quo is a form of jihad. The banner of these groups is a “black flag” with the following phrase printed in the centre of a circle: “There is no God but God”. This abrogates the country’s law and order and seeks revenge on anyone who works for the state.

Some of these flags were spotted in Cairo during what became known as Kandahar Friday, when Islamic groups occupied Tahrir Square on 29 July during a million-strong protest in a show of strength and heavy presence on the street. What is peculiar is that some of those arrested in Sinai are members of groups that were previously arrested and were “set free” during the revolution by other groups —perhaps ones that raised the black banner in the heart of Cairo.

What is occurring in Sinai, such as blowing up gas pipelines and terminalsto Israel, Jordan and Syria, and finally the police station at Al-Areesh —even the declaration of an Islamic emirate in Sinai —are not part of the Egyptian revolution but are found in all Arab revolutions. While nationalistic and revolutionary forces battle to overthrow one of the most tyrannical, unjust, random and unsuccessful Arab regimes, namely Muammar Gaddafi’s in Libya, the Black Curse group assassinated one of the leaders of the revolution, Major General Abdel-Fattah Younes, in order to be rid of a stubborn enemy who would have played a major role after the success of the revolution.

The Black Threat has crept from underneath various Arab revolutions, which were no doubt necessary, to steer them in an opposite direction that is pitch dark with fanaticism, ignorance, extremism and domination. The signs are very clear in Egypt, as it attempts to reach national consensus on a constitutional format during the interim to safeguard the country’s civic nature, while at the same time maintain one of the main covenants for religious groups, namely “the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source for legislation”, while also protecting the religious rights of other faiths.

This format has been accepted by the majority of political groups and movements in Egypt. It has appeared in several documents, one of which was released by Al-Azhar, as well as others issued by individuals, political parties and alliances. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) intends to combine them into one “instructional” document for those who will draft the new constitution.

But the supporters of the Black Threat have reared their heads to undermine this consensus by insisting that the document includes a text that “Egypt is an Islamic not secular state,” which has never appeared in other constitutions since they essentially confirm the identity of the state and not deny what it is not. As long as it states that the “religion of the state is Islam” then what is the reason of adding a text that states it is an Islamic state? Moreover, adding that “the rulings of Islamic Sharia are the primary source of legislation” instead of the phrase “the overall principles of Sharia are the primary source of legislation,” as stated in Al-Azhar’s document.

The Black Threat is interfering and amending the religious fundamentals of a document prepared by Al-Azhar, one of the most prominent pillars of Islamic education in the world. This is based in extremism and domination that is rooted in a history of violence, terrorism and a view of the revolution that its path is to create another Afghanistan —not in Kabul this time, but in the heart of Cairo.

The danger is clear and present and takes many shapes, whether through violence, or speech on television, or interference in constitutional conferences. Strangely, Arab revolutions rose against regimes that aged in power, as was declared in Egypt once, and proposed an alternative to terrorism that struck several Arab states during the past three decades but failed despite violent tactics to change regimes in any of these countries. These aged regimes are now gone for good, and only “remnants” are left, as the saying goes in Egypt —essentially the remainders of a defeated army.

Meanwhile, terrorist groups under any name, whether Islamic, jihadist, Salafi, or calling the other infidel, have infiltrated the various revolutions and begun to impose their doctrines, philosophies and outlook on the future. Some were hasty, as was the case in Sinai, to force the state —Egypt in this case —to sever a dear part of the country to establish whatever they please in the form of an emirate, similar to what occurred in other emirates.

A final point, which may require further discussion, is that the death of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan has perhaps revived the Black Threat in our region, in a violent and determined way that we have not witnessed before.

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