Pathetic state of secular Muslim regimes

Developing Just Leadership

Khalil Marwan

Shawwal 19, 1418 1998-02-16

Special Reports

by Khalil Marwan (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 24, Shawwal, 1418)

The anti-Islamic nature of regimes in the Muslim world is daily reflected in their policies - big and small - that impinge on the lives of ordinary people. Clearly, some are more fanatic in their anti-Islamic zeal than others. Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia immediately come to mind as the front-runners.

All three have banned Islamic political parties. Egypt has also launched a vicious campaign against Islamic activists who are regularly hauled before kangaroo military courts and sent to the gallows by the truckload. Their only crime is that they want to be governed by Islamic not pharaonic laws.

Both Turkey and Indonesia have banished Islam from public life. Only last month, the Refah Party was banned in Turkey. In Indonesia, a pagan ideology, called Pancasila, is in force; in Turkey, Kemalism - a euphemism for vicious anti-Islamic secularism - reigns supreme.

At times, the regimes’ activities assume comic proportions. Take the case of Egypt. The director of censorship for artistic works, Ali Abu Shadi, early this month banned the sale of videocassettes portraying the lives of film stars and bellydancers who gave up their ‘glamorous’ roles to devote themselves to Islam. ‘We decided to ban these videocassettes because they undermine the reputation of Egyptian stars and violate the supreme interests of the State,’ said Abu Shadi on February 2.

The tapes are part of a series titled ‘Repentant artists who have found the road to piety.’ They are produced by a joint Saudi-Egyptian venture which was launched by the former Egyptian actor Hassan Yussef, who quit the cinema in the seventies to dedicate himself to Islam.

In Muslim Egypt, filthy movies are not censored, only those that portray the reform of society. Abu Shadi used strange logic peculiar only to secular fanatics: ‘The title of this series undermines the reputation of the other performers because it means that they are violating religion.’ Are they not? Presumably scantily-clad women running around with men or appearing in suggestive poses in movies is permitted by Islam, according to Abu Shadi.

There were more gems from the censorship chief. ‘And since the State is the sponsor of art, these videocassettes also undermine the interests of the State,’ he added. Egyptian State interests are served by spreading perversion and immorality.

Popular bellydancers Zizi Mustafa, Hala al-Safi and Sahar Hamdi left their occupation in the eighties and took up the hijab after announcing publicly they had repented. Several film stars, including top actress Shadia, followed suit in the nineties. This is clearly not the kind of example Abu Shadi or the Egyptian regime want to see. Portraying people as good Muslims undermines the ‘supreme interests’ of the Egyptian State because it is an avowed enemy of Islam.

Five years ago, the Egyptian minister of education Taha Bahaeddin had to back down over the question of hijab. He had ordered girls attending State schools not to wear it. This led to a massive protest in the country. He then attempted to delete passages from textbooks which contained Qur’anic references to the Jews since Egypt now had a ‘peace treaty’ with Israel. In this, Egypt was following in the footsteps of tiny Kuwait which was also anxious to exclude Qur’anic passages from textbooks that had references to the Jews.

Turkish secularists are equally fanatic in their anti-Islamic campaign. A Turkish court on February 3 ordered restrictions on Qur’anic education as part of a year-long secularist crackdown on Islamic activism. ‘We ruled that... only children who have completed their eight year obligatory [secular] education can take Qur’anic lessons,’ a court judge told Reuters news agency on February 3.

The administrative court’s ruling increased the age limit to 15 years from 12 for children to attend Qur’anic classes. The court also banned weekend and summer Qur’anic courses previously allowed by an earlier government decree.

Dozens of privately-run Qur’anic classes were shut down during the anti-Muslim campaign last year. A new law extending compulsory secular education to eight years and restricting religious high schools was passed by the military-backed regime of secularist prime minister Mesut Yilmaz.

There is clearly no limit to the anti-Islamic frenzy of secular fanatics in the Muslim world.

Muslimedia: February 16-28, 1998

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