Monday, December 5, 2011

#egyelections : The questions everybody is afraid to ask !!

I am tired of asking the Islamists whether Muslim brotherhood and Salafists “especially Salafists” about their views regarding the Bikini and liquor.
The bikini while we are enchained to many problems
I am tired of asking the Islamists whether Muslim brotherhood and Salafists about their views regarding arts like cinema, opera, ballet and music.
I am tired of asking the Islamists whether Muslim brotherhood and Salafists about their views about women and Christians.
I am tired because we got the same answers every time and yet this did not affect the polls in the first degree. 
I hope our journalists and TV hosts ask new questions like for instance :
  • What is their view about Agrium factory complex in Damietta and its effects on the environment ? How will they solve the environmental problems in Egypt without harming the foreign investments in Egypt ?
  • What is their view about privatized companies in Egypt ?
  • How are they going to fix the deadly economic mistakes of the former regime ?
  • How are they going to solve the unemployment problem ?
  • How are they going to save the wheat problem in Egypt ?
  • How are they going to solve the water problem with Ethiopia ?
  • What are their plans about the free zone in Port Said and East Port Said as well ?
  • What are their plans about the reclamation of Sinai and West Desert to solve the increasing population problem in Egypt ?
  • What are their plans regarding the Egyptian peaceful nuclear program ?
  • What is their plan for the new budget in year 2012/2013 ?
  • What is their plan to solve the agricultural sector in Egypt ?
  • What is their plan to solve the Egyptian cotton and its industry in Egypt ?
  • What are their plans for subsidies goods and medicine !?
  • What is their plan for health insurance system ?
Some times I feel that even the Non Islamists powers in Egypt from liberals can’t answer these questions as well and that’s what everybody ignores them.
I fear no one wants to ask these questions only focusing on the Bikini question because they do not understand its importance.Most of the Egyptian people do not wear Bikini and they do not watch Ballet yet most of the Egyptian people suffer from unemployment , from terrible economic conditions , from pollution and from health problems. I am not worried from Islamist take over because I know if they fail in solving these problems we can have a real hunger strike heavens forbid because guess what people are not afraid of standing for their rights.
I hope some TV host read this post and ask its next parliamentary candidate or MP these questions and let’s say what they are going to say.
The fantastic cartoon of Mostafa Hussein summarizes I want to say. “Despite the views of Hussein , he is still one of the most important cartoonists for real in Egypt and Arab world”


  1. Asy Girah (aagirah)12/05/2011 09:37:00 PM

    Well said, and you are right, liberals can't answer your questions. I talked to a bawab last week and he said that he will not vote for Ikhwan nor for Islamist as all they think of is "banning the bikini," and they don't think of solutions to provide edible bread to the poor.

  2. Great blog post. :) These are important questions, and it's very frustrating when Western media sources obsess over things like bikinis and ballet, as though these issues represent the backwardness of the Egyptian people, without fully realizing or understanding why people voted for the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafis. Don't get me wrong, personal liberties and the arts are important, but this focus on women's clothing is more a reflection of media sensationalism (a desire to strike fear in Western hearts about Islamist parties by showing how backwards they are--even though dress codes wouldn't affect Western powers in any way) than a willingness to discuss policy and ethics.

  3. Bravo Zeinobia..Excellent blog and your questions are the core of the matter...I disagree with MB and Salafis not only coz of our liberal life style,but I truly question their knowledge of Economy,Foreign Policy,National Security,etc...I also disagree coz they only believe in "charity"and not"social equality"!They don't even believe in Democracy!!They worked underground for 80+years and they are opportunist and power hungry...
    Again excellent approach and you hit the nail on the head.Cheers:) @amrazim2808

  4. Its starting to sound like so many of these hosts have either a personal problem with islamists or care about nothing but their grossings. Yet, why have the "elite " neither asked them these questions nor answered them themselves? I dont have an answer for that, but im hoping that they'r all afraid theyd actually have solutions and answers could promote them more. Or at least i hope...despite all, egypt will, god willing, retain its identity.

  5. The Salafis simply don't have a plan for any of these things.

    Who saw that debate between a Salafi and Gamila Ismail on TV? The Salafi guy had absolutely no economic/development vision for the country and struggled to answer questions.

    The Salafis are only interested in imposing Sharia, banning women from driving and imposing dress codes.

    It's not like dress codes, women driving etc. is what made 40% of Egyptians live on $2 a day and 30% illiterate.

    Even dumber, are the people who voted for them. Stupidity of the highest level. Can't believe they won 20%.

  6. Important questions, Zeinobia.
    And an answer to those questions would make it easier to estimate what an Ikhwan parliament would really mean. And to stop western pundits about whining that "arab spring" turn to rise of "islamists".
    I live in the west, and I have discussions everyday with folks who get their not very well on knowledge based opinion from those pundits, who talk about bikinis and if Egypt will be a land for holidays in the future or an mullah state at the Nile.
    But as long as nobody knows whats the real perspective from the ikhwan on the important issues, it's very difficult to argue against those fearmonger driven people. And I really like to argue against them.

  7. Excellent Blog post. I completely agree with you.

  8. Yeah, I get frustrated as well from these repeated questions and their answers. A more simple question would be:
    'You wanna apply Sharia? then what do you see in our country that do not go with Sharia? and how are you gonna change it?'
    This question would truly throw the ball at the hands of the Islamist. If he answers using bikini examples, then he will be the one only interested in these topics. On the other hand, if he answers about economy, unemployment, etc., then it would be great!

  9. These are questions I have been asking the liberals in Tahrir since last March. They are questions EVERYONE needs to turn their attention to - guess ECONOMY is no longer a dirty word now that the newly elected are going to have to come up with solutions - problem is - NOBODY has the vaguest idea how to answer any of them!

  10. Well Said!!! Finally!
    I had countless discussions and arguments with Both Salafis and MB (mostly MBs), both supporters and candidates. Unfortunately I didn't get ONE solid and straight answer. Didn't get the chance to talk with Liberals but I guess it will be the same. I believe these elections were more of a battle of classes than actual political views. Majority still cannot see the bigger picture and the source of their problems.

    Unfortunately Left, Center and Right political wings reflected and differentiated on the Religious views rather than political because this is what most of the population understands.

  11. salem .
    le scores des salafiste c est beaucoup.
    pour l égypte qui accueille des touristes
    je vie en france ya des débats sa inquiètes des gens qui veule faire du tourisme'
    de nous avons vu le porte parole des salafistes a dit que les touriste doive étre couvert'
    il on passé sa a la télévision française.
    sa a chocé est fait peur.
    je peu vous dire que les pays ou les islamiste on gagné.auron peur d y allez est partiron dans d autre pays.
    l égypte a besoin de trouvé un travail logement
    se soigné manger rétablir la sécurité'
    est aussi plus d école pour les enfant.
    tout sa avant de parler les lois religieuse
    l'égypte n est pas l'arabie saoudite cars eux
    il son très riche. est peu faire des lois religieuse.
    l'égypte l annee dernière a 7%de croissance
    est 14 milliard de dollars de recette.
    non a la fermeture de l égypte l économie passe avant.que les ideé du moyenne â france vous regarde....................

  12. Also what is the plan to rescue Egypt's poor from the lack of health service and low quality education they are receiving now.

  13. Hey, great post! I think those questions are all valid, important and clear and never get asked enough... I had started off writing something very similar to yours but focused more on one thing: countering SCAF and authoritarianism...

    So while I know the immediate fear of MB controlled parliament is worry about bikinis, beers, beaches, etc. (kidding but you know) I think there may be some benefits in having the Muslim Brotherhood at the helm for the coming few years during this transitional period.... The real question is what is the struggle right now in Egypt and what should the goal be?

    I think people are too fixated on the fight for Egypt's identity which is still further down the line (I believe)... Today it is the fight against authoritarianism, corruption, no accountability and the lack of checks and balances in government (which will automatically be enacted with MB majority given police dislike of Islamists)... With Iran those remnants of the old regime were whilly defeated, allowing a Khomeini to come into a clean slate and replace them...

    First of all, let us not forget that, if anybody suffered under Mubarak it was the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters. For decades they have been arrested, tortured, exiled, etc - I remmeber watching a discussion at some Mokhabart building where Lieutenant X was describing to Lieutenant Y how a friend's son had been automatically dismissed from potential to work in Mukhabart because two of his friends from his soccer team (a few years earlier) were somewhat active in Ikhwan; simultaneously, they recalled how a somewhat famous Sheikh's son had been "taken away" for a while and not allowed to preach because he had a slight affiliation (e.g. short amount of time, some acquaintances, a meeting or two) with the organization a while back.

    Main point is that if anybody hates CSF, army, police, mokhabarrat, amn el dawla, etc. it is the MB members for sure. Now this is important because I personally believe that to have the society we all deserve (open, accountable, free, etc.) the FIRST STEP is removing the tools of oppression that were used by the former regime. Moreover, even more than SCAF/army (who are at least more educated in general) the real fear I have is the mid/upper level police officer ranks who have beneffitted tremendously from Mubarak's reign and won't be too happy about not only giving up the benefits, but being called to account for past transgressions/crimes/etc. While there is no way for us to actually validate, have seen some articles (really good one here: that point to the fact that SCAF is actually having a difficult time controlling the CSF and amn markazy (makes sense, I mean SCAF doesn't necessarily want many of these continued abuses as it makes them look bad - although it probably arose from the fact that they outsourced the dirty business to CSF in the first place)...

    Additionally, I think the comparison to Iran falls down mainly in the above point. In Iran the state security institutions were completely dissolved and handed over to revolutionary powers, putting them in the hands of whoever grasped control... While I tihnk we would all like the police/security to be removed of Mubarak remnants, I do suppose there is a half glass full side to it in that it provides a sort of "checks and balances" from the revolutionary beneficiaries to take full control... (although many of the liberals I am sure wouldn't have a problem with that if it was the "good guys" winning elections!)

  14. I sympathise but there is another side to this. It's annoying when a weakened domestic media picks up the line of questioning taken by the international media, which is (understandably I think as a western journo myself) focusing on the issues that make sense and are relevant to its own audience.
    But it may be that these apparently trivial personal freedom issues really are fundamental:
    1. History is littered with regimes which put economic advancement before personal liberties and ended up securing neither - indeed, the worse the economy got, the more individuals who "stood out" were scapegoated. On the other hand, countries that have loosened personal freedoms have often prospered too.
    2. Egypt - like any other post-dictatorial developing world country - cannot hope to prosper without engagement with the outside world. The proper debate about the rightness and wrongness and compatibility of (and definition of) "Muslim" "Egyptian" "Modern" "Western" values cannot take place properly in a repressive atmosphere.
    3. None of the parties can be expected to take immediate, successful control of the reins of macroeconomic, industrial, environmental policies - they don't have the experience, while the country has been let down in these areas by Mubarak's incompetence. They will therefore be reliant on existing technocrats (horrid word but you know what I mean) and continuing to attract others home from abroad. Not all of these are free-wheeling party-goers of course but a higher proportion are likely to be driven away by lack of personal freedoms, including and perhaps especially for women.
    The rise of Islamism may indeed be a reaction to the encroachment of "western values". But it is also true that countries that have grown and modernised economically in the last 30 years, whether anti-American dictatorships like China, EU states in southern and Eastern Europe, or Far East tiger economies, have all been marked by huge increases in personal liberties, which have proved more important to stability and growth in some cases than political freedoms.

  15. I am not even Egyptian but I heard some great answers on these questions from Hazim abou Ismaeel. I think he has good views and Ideas and he said that he has been following and reading about politics for the last 10/20 years. I watch alnas tv, specially masr algadida and I think that these issues have also been adressed there and their have been good agruments given by the salafis and de MB. Maybe you should look further then the main stream media.

  16. It is obvious even to an outsider like me how the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists will answer each of the questions Zeinobia asks. Really, it is surprising that none of the commenters above came anywhere near the correct answer.

    When you ask the Islamists what they will do about problem X, they will say: "Problem X is caused by Zionist Jews, their Western puppets, and their lapdogs in Egypt. Problem X will be fixed by addressing the root cause."

  17. Man, Egypt really screwed itself with this election. A bunch of 15th Century throwbacks will now be running the country. That should help a struggling economy and sagging social infrastructure. Maybe now you will start to appreciate why Mubarak sat so hard on these people. Welcome to Iran, er um I mean Egypt. Oh, right, same thing....

  18. These are good questions. But why is there the assumption that an FJP govmnt would be any less capable than say a Wafd govmnt or some nasty dictator govmnt or perhaps a gormless Baradei type govmnt?

    They actually do have a lot of glossy jargon loaded election material detailing their approach and most Egyptians seem to have chosen it. As you know any expectation that they or anyone can "solve" Egypts woes is misplaced to say the least. If they tread water most will be satisfied and in an unstable world even that is in doubt. But good or bad we can haul in a new bunch at the next election.

    If you don't blindly hold that muslim = bad and mad, then you could say that they will probably do as well as any party. Extreme economic measures are unlikely, they are shit-scared of touching foreign and defence policy so little likley change there, socially they are respected for grassroots community development.

    A different question is why some secularists (Elmani definition) and certainly atheists find it impossible to even entertain the idea they might do okay and possibly be re-elected. It is because that makes them address another posibility. We have now entered a new phase where, with freedom to chose, the majority will always select candidates with beliefs and values that they share. The secularisation project enforced upon the region is over. The people want islam based soloutions to their contemporary problems. The secular/religious divide will dissapear and the only parties that will succeed will all be "religious" based. Liberal reform islam, Moderate islam, slightly strict on fridays islam, cheeerless islam, very strict islam etc. (read; Baradeis Children, Moussa, Wasat, FJP, Nour)

  19. what was wrong with my comment that you should not wish to post it?


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