The fundamental question in the Islamist sphere is how the fall of President Morsi and the Brotherhood will be interpreted. The answer is that the interpretation will be consistent with wherever the parties stood before Morsi’s fall.
Fundamental Islamists and Salafists will promote their consistent position that Democracy and Islam are incompatible; that a separation of church and state is ‘Un-Islamic. This point of view will fail to recognize that the attempt in Egypt to apply Sharia and Muslim Brotherhood principals failed. The Brotherhood, long considered the brain trust of Islamist thinking has suffered a comprehensive blow to its credulity. Islamism, in theory, fell to the abject inability to govern inclusively. This inability to govern is, in large part, a function of ideology ignoring realities on the ground, discounting the will and concerns of the masses in favor of a vision that that did not create jobs, economic growth, inclusiveness or political stability. Ideology does not put bread on the table.
The Brotherhood, in pursuit of ‘Islamic States’ has been slapped down on many an occasion; by President Nasser and President Sadat in Egypt, by Assad (father and son) in Syria and a recent crackdown on the Brotherhood in the United Arab Emirates; uprisings are on the horizon in Turkey and Tunisia.
The message from more ‘moderate’ and secular elements is that Sharia and the desire for pure Islamist states and governments must have limitations. They look to some form of Democratic representation as that point of control, therein lays the foundation of the conflict; no such limitations exist in Islam. Laws made my ‘man’ carry no weight with fundamentalist Muslims, only the law set down by God by way of his messenger Mohammed and the examples of Mohammed’s life are valid.
There will also be messages for the West. The highly active and imaginative conspiracy theory industry in the Muslim world will point to the role of the West; the message being that the West will promote Democratic elections only if Islamists don’t win. They will point to hypocrisy. They will point to an American President taking sides and then not taking sides. They will point to American silence during the Green Revolution in Iran. They will point to American aid focused mainly on the military. They will connect the Coup in Egypt with American military aid. They will ask “where does America really stand?” No actual answer will be forthcoming to that question only generalized platitudes. With the fall of the Brotherhood the question will also circulate, “why have Brotherhood leaders been welcomed to the White House?” We would all like an answer to that question.
There will also be conflicting messages in the future. Will the Brotherhood decide that elections are not the appropriate vehicle to power? Will they actively connect themselves to more radical elements in Islam? Or, will they come to the opinion that developing an organization is not the same as developing governing coalitions? Will they see the error of their ways as ideological or technical?
Messages from the U.S. will, as always, be considered in their smallest details. The U.S. supported Mubarak before they didn’t. We supported Morsi and then didn’t know what or who to support. To 20 million people in the street the U.S. message was about ‘core principals’ and ‘concerns’ not about the expressed desire of the people in Egypt. Was recent military aid a guise behind which to subvert Morsi?
The clearest message of all came from the Egyptian military; ‘we will not allow terrorists and fools (Morsi and The Brotherhood) to dominate Egypt.’ That statement delivered the message that Political Islam had met it’s stop sign and that the arrogance of power combined with blind ideology was intolerable.
That clear message was followed by another clear message from hard Right Islamists. ‘There will be blood!’
Finally there is, perhaps, a message for us. Going to the streets as a political majority is, on occasion, the only answer way to effectively deliver the message!