By Asma Khan
Egypt has an old and long tradition of revolutions. The one that happened in 2011 was a defining moment in recent history.
If you think yourself a man, come with me on 25 January. Whoever says women shouldnâ€™t go to protests because they will get beaten let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on 25 January. Whoever says it is not worth it because there will only be a handful of people, I want to tell him, â€˜You are the reason behind this, and you are a traitor, just like the president or any security cop who beats us in the streets.
This tirade by Asma Mahfouz , a social activist , on YouTube is said to have begun the great revolution against the Mubarak regime. We as kids used to play a game, where, the next song had to begin from the last word of the song just ended. Perhaps life too plays such games, same as the Egypt revolution began with Asma and ended with another Asma, (perhaps). This time it was, Asma Beltaji, the seventeen year old girl with an angelic smile, a teacher to young kids, and daughter of Ikhwan leader Mohammad Beltaji was serving the injured , when she was killed by a sniper fired from an Egyptian army tank, at Masjid e Rabaa al-Adawiya. At that time, this mosque had become a pro- Mursi camp, an eye sore for the military regime. Ikhwanul Muslimeen has a long and bitter history of resistance against the ruling establishment, in the Land of the Pharaoh where the former ruler for 34 years Hosni Mubarak took pride in saying, Anaa Abd e Firaun, that he was proud to be the son of Pharaoh, enemy of Prophet Moses PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him).
The rise and fall of Ikhwanul Muslimeen in Egypt is, to put it mildly, is astonishing; its degeneration and rapidly losing of all the cards, in its hands is a lesson to the Islamic parties the world over. I first came to know about Ikhwan when asked to deliver a lecture about Zainab Al Ghazali, a fiery leader from the ranks of women cadres of Ikhwan. Now banned, this Islamic party is based on the teachings of Syed Qutb, Hasan Al Banna and who in turn are said to be inspired by Moulana Abulaala Moudoodi, came up with the idea of owning a school and a sports facility along with a mosque, wherever it wanted to establish a base. Earlier too it had remained banned for 85 years and Itâ€™s beyond belief to see how an organization which remains banned for years, gains power after the huge protests of January 2011, only to lose it all over again!. One more noticeable fact is that the skirmish Ikhwan had with the military; carved up, the Muslim world in distinctly two halves. One saw the symbolic images of the four upheld fingers, protesting the killings at Rabaa al-Adawiya , while the other group condemned the event and the sign harshly.
Caption: Egyptian men walk through debris and rubble inside the burnt down mosque of Rabaa al-Adawiya on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. Islamists vowed to rally later in the day in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi despite a violent crackdown that sparked Egyptâ€™s worst day of violence for decades, with over 500 people killed. As the death toll from the carnage soared, condemnation of the previous dayâ€™s crackdown on two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo poured in, with Britain, France and Germany summoning the countryâ€™s ambassadors to express concern. AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI/Getty Images, Image Source: Huffington Post
The Salafis were at the forefront. Their Noor party had come only second to the Ikhwans in the last Egyptian elections, losing power only by the margins and didnâ€™t take kindly to the fact of remaining at the margins. There were reports of the Saudi King Abdullah, doling out huge sums of money for the ousting of President Mursi. There were not just people for and against the Rabaa signs but also to the existential question of whether to open or shut mouths on the issue. A Salafi scholar, opined that, in a scenario where two factions of Muslims are fighting against each other, itâ€™s better to not take sides. Unless and until you have the capacity to, bring amicable solution to a conflict, you should not be speaking for or against it, he is reported to have said. The scholar from the other camp was ready with the retort, Speak the truth only when you are able to influence the events ? Who says so? And our FaceBook warriors continued their online battle.
The Arab Spring, refreshing as it may have felt some three years ago, now seems to be a gush of the cold wind, which numbs the senses of the Middle East. One wonders whether the purpose was/is to create one more scary demon for the Muslim rulers of these parts, after years of living with the fear of Israel and a Shia Iran.
Talking about the women of the Arab Spring, be it , Asma Mahfouz, Asma Beltaji or Mona Altahwy, a journalist ,who led credence to the theory of Asma Mahfouzâ€™s angry outburst , to have started the revolution, there is something interesting to take note of. While the two Asmas are or were traditional in outlook ,and clad in hijab, Mona Eltahwy has famously written about how hard it was for her to get rid of the guilt of promiscuity. A sort of red herring for the mullahs! This is the world of Islam today struggling with its own and grappling with the fragments of a myriad hues, Salafis, Ikhwans, moderates and those who just wish to believe in everything their Fatwa-ists give them to follow in.
Asma Beltaji , many failed to recognize her right to a peaceful protest. Her death didnâ€™t turn her into Malala of the Middle East.
But mourning for the innocent dead anywhere in the world should never be a contentious issue or is it? One never knows, in todayâ€™s (Muslim) world.
Masjid e Rabaa bin-Adawiya:
We Weep for Thee
Your majestic walls
Splintered arches, broken pillars
Rip open our masks
The bowed heads
A red splash!
You become crimson bright
Masjid e Rabaa bin Adawiyya
We weep for thee
We named you after Rabia
When misery came to her, cried
I thank you, O Allah,
You havenâ€™t forgotten me!
Listening to my passion cries
Rabia spoke softly
You were, â€™Occupiedâ€™ when Aqsa was seized
Now why do you weep for me?