The return of the age of the Pharaohs

There was much fanfare after the tumultuous events stemming from the Arab Spring in 2011.

The MENA (Middle East and North African countries) and their populations were overcome with sheer excitement, hope and joy that a new dawn of optimism awaited them. Looking back now to the events of 2011, we see that those expressions of joy and excitement have somewhat been curtailed by the recent tragic yet barbaric events that have somewhat unfolded in Egypt in recent days.

We need to ask ourselves that was the Arab Spring a real revolution designed to bring about real change and transformation in the MENA countries or did the old guard never really go away and were somewhat lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce when the opportunity arose. This brings me onto the subject that the world in recent days has in reality witnessed a ‘return to the age of the pharaohs’. 

History is testament to the fact that the pharaohs in ancient Egypt were fearsome rulers that suppressed all forms of dissent. Many a scholar reminds the congregation by using the phrase that ‘for every pharaoh there is Moses’. 

This brings me on to my next point in that the Moses of modern Egypt is indeed Dr Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimoon) The Muslim Brotherhood indeed made many positive contributions to Egyptian society in recent times and Morsi unfairly has been vilified for not doing enough to change the fortunes of the Egyptian people. 

How was Morsi expected to address the ills of Egyptian society after years of neglect, decay, despotism and rampant corruption at all levels in 12 months? 

There is the old adage ‘Rome was not built in a day’ and acts as potent reminder to all peoples that transformation of societies is never immediate. Morsi in his short but brief tenure made good progress and mistakes like most leaders do, but surely he was deserving of more time and support from his fellow citizens and contemporaries a like .

It is now becoming apparent that the man Morsi appointed as commander of the Egyptian armed forces General Abdel-Fattah El- Sisi sounded the death knell for the Muslim Brotherhood at the bequest of the Saudi Arabian government. 

 It has been well documented that General El-Sisi had well established links with the USA and the Saudi government going back many years and it did not come as a real surprise to many observers that he would eventually be the catalyst for Morsi’s removal from the corridors of power.

Historically, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi government have been long standing rivals with regards to winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim community right across the world. Morsi was indeed making headway in addressing age old problems that were eating into the very fabric of the nation and had he have been allowed to succeed by completing his full tenure as president would have set alarm bells ring in Riyadh.

The Saudi Arabian government could not afford to see a revitalised and re-energised lion of the Middle East in the shape of a vibrant yet Modern Egypt from the shadows challenging it for supremacy in the Muslim world. It is for this reason that Morsi had to be ejected from power as the Ikhwani movement was a major bulwark to the aspirational Salafi-Wahhabi movement worldwide.

Thus it is this battle between these two prevailing ideologies that will indeed shape the destiny and future of the Arab and Muslim communities worldwide. The events that are unfolding in front of our very eyes and in the near future shall yield a clear result. Watch this space to see which of the ideological heavyweights shall emerge victorious in the coming days, months and years.

By Dr Abdul B Shaikh

Lecturer in Islamic Studies @ Leeds University