Campaigning for all (including Islamists)

My friend Elijah Zarwan, a New Yorker who until recently was a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Cairo, writes about the Muslim Brotherhood, its treatment at the hands of the US-backed dictatorships and the universality of human rights:

Let me be clear: I don’t support the Muslim Brotherhood. I’m fundamentally opposed to their platform, and I distrust their new discourse of freedom and democracy. Even its most vocal proponents, impressive people like Abd al-Moneim Mahmud, see it as a means to an end. It’s embarrassing watching a Brother, even one from the “moderate, reformist” trend, trying to wiggle out of a direct question about Shia Muslims, Copts in positions of power, women, or gays. But I’m equally opposed to the government’s treatment of them on moral and practical grounds.

I also keep coming back to this detail of the weeping State Security officer bringing sweets for Khairat al-Shatir’s grandchildren. It’s things like this that make Egypt’s autocracy more livable than Tunisia’s, say, or Syria’s. I’m reminded of the prosecutor who joked with a young Brotherhood-affiliated student picked up at a 2006 protest in support of judicial independence when the student denied having insulted the president.

“Ya Mohammed,” he asked, telling the clerk to stop writing, “When you’re sitting with your friends, you don’t insult the president?”
“OK, yeah, I do.”
“Me too,” he laughed, and told the clerk to start taking notes again.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common