In the heady days of the Arab Spring, before even some mainstream newspapers began mentioning that maybe this whole thing was becoming a horrible disaster, there was no reason that even the most hideous monsters couldn’t climb on board the train of progress and democracy about to pull into the 1848 Station.
The Islamic Group’s terrorist leaders, a vile organization that was responsible for the horrifying atrocities committed against foreign tourists during the Luxor Massacre, were out of jail and eager to be moderate democrats as well.
Tarek El Zomor, a founding member of Gama’a Islamiyya and now a top official in its affiliated party, Construction and Development, is keen to reassure any listener that he and most other Islamists have turned over a new leaf.
Mr El Zomor was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to overthrow the regime by force. Even after his long imprisonment, he said he has no regrets about giving a nod to Sadat’s murder.
The Egyptian leader “didn’t allow anyone to be a part of the political process, so he was the author of his own demise,” he said.
Clearly Mr. Zomor was just a stifled democrat who wasn’t depraved, he was deprived of political freedom. He’s the sort of man we can deal with who can be our partner in building the new Egypt.
While an Egyptian government based on Sharia is the ultimate goal, coercion is out of the question, Mr El Zomor insisted.
“There is a lot of debate within the different Islamic groups about how quickly we can apply Sharia,” he said. “We believe you can never impose laws on people that they don’t want.”
Mr El Zomor’s assertion that civil law must not be discounted represents a far cry from the views of Gama’a Islamiyya in the 1970s and 1980s, when it argued that sovereignty belongs to Allah and man-made laws were illegitimate because they usurped the divine’s jurisdiction.
Peace is finally at hand. No coercion, just social justice.
a stunning turnaround for a movement that has been accused of involvement in among many acts of violence, the Luxor massacre in 1997 in which 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were machine-gunned and hacked to death with knives.
But that was 1997. A truly long time ago. It’s like the time Morsi said in 2010 that a terrorist war to drive the Jews out of the Middle East was the only answer. Who even remembers what 2010 was like?
The creation of a political party alone “is not something its members could have ever conceived of in the 1980s”, said John Calvert, the author of a biography of Sayyid Qutb, the Islamist thinker whose ideas inspired generations of violent extremists.
Mr Calvert, a professor of history at Creighton University in the United States, praises the development because it gives a legitimate avenue for expression to groups who lacking it responded to repression with their own brand of violence.
“There is every reason to believe that if the electoral process in Egypt succeeds, political involvement and accountability will continue to move in a democratic direction,” Mr Calvert said.
And when these groups have freedom of expression, then they’ll be peaceful. Right? A professor of history says so and he must be right.
For now, El Zomor, whose two phones constantly ring with calls from his party’s MPs, is preoccupied with proving that Islamic principles can solve societal problems and dispelling fears about Islamists like him.
“All the fears that people had of us in the past had no basis in reality,” he said. “They were planted by the old regime to disparage the Islamists.”
Whew glad that’s over… but wait. This was 2012. Now it’s 2013.
“The voice of violence shall prevail above everything else,” said El-Zomor, official spokesperson of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Construction and Development Party, in a statement released on Thursday.
El-Zomor’s threat comes before nationwide protests scheduled for 25 January to celebrate the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolution.
He said that he was ready to fight any opponents of the Islamist current. President Morsi was elected and can only be removed via the ballot box at the next presidential election in 2016, he added.
“If the president is forced out of power through illegitimate means, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is known to be peaceful, would have to step aside for revolutionary Islamists to fight the anarchists and secularists,” El-Zomor said.
Either Islamists run the country and terrorize it using the institutions of the state. Or they don’t run the country and terrorize it through terror.
Democratic reform… it really works.