Muhammad Mahdi Akif, the leader of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, on the need for reform in Egypt

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad Mahdi Akif

Jumada' al-Ula' 13, 1425 2004-07-01

Islamic Movement

by Muhammad Mahdi Akif (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 33, No. 5, Jumada' al-Ula', 1425)

The Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, the largest Islamic movement in Egypt, was recently subjected to the biggest crackdown for many years, resulting in the death in prison of Akram Zuhayri on June 9. Here we publish a message from MUHAMMAD MAHDI AKIF, General Guide of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen.

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In the name of Allah; praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Prophet and those who followed him...

"Among the believers are those who have been true to their covenant with Allah: of them some have died and some [still] wait; but they have never changed [their determination] in the least." (Qur’an 33: 23)

The death of Engineer Brother Akram Abd-al-Aziz Zuhayri shaheed at the Mazra’at Turah prison, as a consequence of grave negligence and failure to shoulder responsibility, which coincided with the results of the G8 summit in Georgia, in the United States, dissipates any hope of real reform in our Arab countries. The hopes of the optimists in our country and those who bank on the superpowers to make take us down the path of reform have evaporated.

The largest Arab regime [Egypt], and the one most capable of spearheading real reform, instead continues in its same repressive policies. Its leaders have neither any feeling of responsibility for either the security and stability of the country, or for its development and its need to attract investments to it; nor the ability to create a environment of political openness that can accommodate all political forces and provide the opportunity for all social forces to express themselves; nor even a sense of awe of the inevitability of standing before Allah, Who will ask them about [how they have treated] their people.

The recent campaign targeted 58 members of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen; 58 of the best young people of this Ummah were arrested,their assets seized and their companies closed down. Sixteen of them were then subjected to appalling torture at the headquarters of the State Security Intelligence Service. This resulted in the martyrdom of Akram Zuhayri, as a result of the authorities’ refusal to transfer him to hospital and failure to provide him with the medical assistance he needed. Instead he was left to suffer his injuries until he breathed his last. All this indicates that the Arab regimes still have the same police-state mentality, and are still using the same old tactics, and that the only thing that they care about is to consolidate their grip on power, even over the dead bodies of their victims.

The summit meetings of the G8 industrial countries resulted in another setback to the reform project in the Arab world. Those who were relying on foreign pressures to introduce reform were also disappointed. This was what the Ikhwan has always proclaimed: that these countries seek only to promote their own interests, and that it was these countries which have long sponsored despotism in our country and in other countries – a fact that was acknowledged by President Bush.

The truth of the matter is that these countries and governments fear real freedom as much as the despotic regimes fear it. The US and its own satellites, willing and unwilling, are trying through its plans for the upgrading of existing political systems, the changing of educational curricula and for dictating the religious, cultural and media discourses in our Arab and Islamic states, to force the Ummah to its knees, to weaken its creed, to corrupt its ethics, to alienate it from its identity and to distance it from its unique cultural roots.

Moreover, all the talk about reform, the Greater Middle East initiative and other US and European initiatives is being used to pressurise and blackmail the regimes of the region to make further concessions on national and regional issues, over and above their total acquiescence to the will of the US on the Palestinian, Afghan, Iraq and oil issues.

We now see Egypt being expected to become involved in Ghazzah in order to save war criminal Sharon from the predicament into which he has fallen, instead of serving the cause and interests of the Palestinians. This can only cause major problems within the ranks of the Palestinians, who were about to unite behind the resistance as a basic strategy for ending the occupation. All the Palestinians are offered in return are Israeli promises to withdraw and dismantle the settlements in four phases, each of them requiring the approval of the Zionist government, and none of them due to start for at least a year, assuming it ever does.

When the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen expose these ugly and unjust practices, which violate human rights and the dignity of man, they do not pin their trust on international bodies, which have been shown with certainty to exercise these unjust practices themselves. Nor do the Ikhwan complain against an oppressor to another oppressor. The Ikhwan turn only to Allah, Who knows His Creation and Who is the fair judge. They then inform the people of their violated rights and lost causes, so that people might regain these rights through their patience, jihad and determination.

We realize that real reform in our country can only be achieved by its people, who have the real interest in change. "Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves" (Qur’an 13:11). We are trying to achieve this goal in accordance with our step-by-step approach: reform of souls, building households, counselling society and liberating motherlands. We call upon all active and serious movements to adopt this same approach, and tread the same path, and to trust in the people, rather than depending on the regimes or foreign forces, so that resources can be pooled and hopes realized.

This is a long road. However, there is no other way. We will continue to call upon the rulers, to whom Allah has entrusted this Ummah, to fear Allah in their peoples, and to know that they will be taken before Allah on a day in which no secret will be concealed. They should also remember that they will be asked about every little and weighty thing, about the groans of the tortured, about the blood of the martyrs and the suffering, about the tears of the widows, bereaved mothers and orphans, about the sighs of the families of the imprisoned at the gates of jails and prisons, about the millions of unemployed, about the stolen money, about the lost development, and about everything else. "But how (will they fare) when We gather them together against a Day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned without injustice?"

Real reform, requires three criteria, as the experts agree:

1-To replace the criteria of loyalty – be it family, clannish, or factional and nepotistic loyalty, or loyalty to the network of special interests which are infiltrating the state, or the narrow party loyalty – with the criteria of qualifications;

2-To replace the power of the security services with the rule of law in organizing the public domain and the political and civil life; giving the security services the freedom to harrass, arrest and torture people creates the conditions of subjugation and leaves the individual no option, but to capitulate and surrender, or rebel and resist.

3-The principle of responsibility, which means sensing one’s duties and doing his work in accordance with the dictates of this duty in public affairs and in posts of responsibility. Perhaps the prevailing principle among Arab officials today is the polar opposite of this principle, i.e. enjoying and squandering public resources as if they were private assets.

These criteria clearly indicate the depth of the crisis which the Arab societies are undergoing, as a result of the regimes’ dependence on the big stick of the security services to kill, torture and arrest whoever it pleases, and to transform the Arab countries into big prisons.

We will continue to be loyal to our religion and mission, to our country and motherland. We will shoulder all the possible sacrifices for the sake of God until God grants us victory. "Or do ye think that ye shall enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: ‘When (will come) the help of Allah?’ Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!" (2:214).

[This message was published by the Amal al-Ummah website (www.amlalommah.net) on June 24, 2004. It has been translated and abridged by Crescent staff.]

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