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El-Shater’s business interests are not incidental to the Brotherhood program; they are the point of it all. What the Brotherhood did with its tithes, it will be able to do on a much larger scale when it controls the Egyptian economy and the sizable foreign investments. The tensions between it and the military are not over Islam, but over the military’s own mirror economic interests. When those issues are resolved, Egypt will be on its way to becoming a fully Islamic oligarchy on the model of Iran or the intermediate model of Turkey.
Driving out the Copts is vital not only for religious reasons, but for economic ones. Turkey’s Varlik Vergisi seizure of property from Christian and Jewish businessmen helped centralize state control of the economy. Coptic Christians are more successful than their Muslim counterparts and those likeliest to leave will be those with the most money, allowing the Brotherhood to gobble up their assets. Suppressing the economic power of the military and the Copts will turn the Brotherhood into an unchallenged oligarchy with near supreme control of the Egyptian economy.
The men who stand to profit the most from the harassment of the Copts are El-Shater and his cronies who are following the National Socialist tactic of persecuting a wealthy minority in order to seize its assets for themselves. While the Muslim Brotherhood makes public statements about protecting the Copts, its hidden hand touches off riots and violence, allowing it to act as persecutor and savior.
The Brotherhood may drop hints about moderating its positions, but its theological commitments make it impossible to do so and it has no intention of moderating its goals, only its image. That means disguising its program for women and minorities in cheerful colors, playing word games and trotting out talking points like its sizable Sisterhood wing. The endgame however has never changed.
At the end of 2011, El-Shater met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, as the latter described the terrorist group as the “Jihadi movement” of the Brotherhood. But the Brotherhood is already a Jihadi movement. Its motto was, “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
The only difference is that the Brotherhood has adopted a different image than its Hamas arm, but the final aim of all Brotherhood organizations is to establish an absolute monopoly on power in the name of Islam. No matter how many times Thomas Friedman has strawberry juice with El-Shater while discussing reforms, he is not a reformer, and his mission is to move Egypt and the world backward in time to the Caliphate.
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