Thursday, March 24, 2011

Egypt: Two-in-One Revolution

Egypt, a country called typically Russian resort, is grasped by the so-called "date revolution." Interfax-Religion correspondent Yelena Verevkina asked renowned expert in Islam Alexander Ignatenko what is the role of Islamists in undermining foundations of this "beach paradise."

Alexander Alexandrovich, what is the role of Islamist underground in organizing disorders in Egypt?

- I think their role is not too significant as the things happening in Egypt, can be called revolution "two in one." On the one hand, it is a revolt of people who have been oppressed by gerontocratic corruption regimen, but on the other hand, it is so called "color revolution" that tries to use this people's impulse to redistribute power and property among elite groups of Egypt. Renowned activist Mohammed al Baradei is the leader of this second revolution.

As to Islamists, they have always been active in Egypt, but they are not playing a leading part in this revolution, here are different moving forces, different infantry. However, today they are in expectation as they have rich political experience. What are the reasons of this expectation? The reason for it is that any political group that will come to power in Egypt (for instance, people who stand for "color revolution") will have to deal with a complex of problems, very difficult, very old that have recently have become more acute, and they won't be able to settle all these problems. It is evident today that they are trying to conclude a kind of agreement, public or secret, with those forces that are trying to kindle this revolution or suppress it, with counterrevolution forces.

What are these forces? They are now trying to make an agreement with Mohammed al Baradei, but at the same time they do not exclude and even suggest a kind of alliance with militaries, with members of the top brass in Egypt. A kind of transitional government can be set up. It won't be a government of national accord or government of national salvation, it will certainly be transitional government where they can participate in this or that form together with militaries and organizers of the "color revolution."

- When you visit Egypt, you've got an impression that majority of its citizens are far from following Islam canons. How many Egyptians can really support "Muslim Brothers" and for what reasons - political or ideological?

- I can't say how many Egyptians can back up "Muslim Brothers." The question is different. Today, Egypt goes through a full-fledged revolution and absolutely different forces from "Muslim Brothers" (but we said they are not the main force) to criminals who have their own interest take part in it. It's not a fact that some Egyptians follow "Muslim Brother" or certain religious slogans. All these events have different organizers. It is not quite right to link this revolution to "Muslim Brothers" and Egyptians who are in sympathy with them.

-What do you think about such an expression as "Islamic democracy"? Is it viable?

- I have never used such an expression. Islam and democracy are incompatible things: you have to choose Islam or democracy.

- What do you think, the power will be gained by pro-Western forces Mohammed al Baradei or Iranian scenario is possible with a rollback to strict Islam?

- I think that Egypt will have such a regimen where the leading role is given to the army and Special Forces. I don't exclude that the United States and the European Union who demonstrated their interest in Egyptian events will strive to set up a pure democracy there as they won't be satisfied with coercion if the militaries block organizers of the "color revolution" and even "Muslim Brothers" who can also participate in political reforms. It's enough to say that they more than once were elected to the Egyptian parliament. I think that Pakistani experience, where military dictator Musharraf was thrown down and changed, not without US pressure, to "democratic government" shows that such replacements of state heads can lead to a negative result, when radical Islamist elements can try to seize power.

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