Expecting some argument on this one, but here goes. Islamist Gate, by Azza Radwan Sedky
In 2003, Casablanca saw the deadliest terrorist attacks in Morocco’s modern history. A dozen Islamist militants blew themselves up in various locations across the city leaving 45 dead. Hotels, restaurants, and spots of Jewish affinity were targeted.
Another deadly attack occurred in 2011. A two-storey café in a busy hub, a marketplace, was bombed at midday. Fifteen died.
Fast forward to March 2014. King Mohammed VI prays as Imam Fazazi leads the Friday prayers. To those who don’t know Fazazi, he is a former radical Islamist, who at one point in his life wanted to “slit the throats of all western infidels.”
Fazazi had also preached at the Al-Quds Mosque in Hamburg, Germany, where many of those who executed 9/11 congregated. Moroccan courts sentenced Fazazi to 30 years in prison, not for participating in the 2003 attacks but for the violent ideology that incited the attackers.
In prison, Fazazi made a 360-degree swing. He distanced himself from the hardline Islamists by writing a letter to Muslims around the world asking them to coexist with others in particular in Germany, the scene for much of his verbal outrage. He also said that he had gone too far with his call for violence and has since moved away from his original beliefs. See his letter here http://bit.ly/1gO7uPO.
Soon afterwards, Fazazi received a royal pardon after spending only eight of his jail term. And now, the same Fazazi is seen leading King Mohamed VI in prayers. The Imam praised the King in his sermon, and the King reciprocated with a handshake afterwards exchanging a few words with the imam, all broadcast on national TV.
King Mohammed VI has seemingly evolved towards a more democratic route. He faced some turbulence in 2011 after the Tunisian and Egyptians revolutions erupted, but he swiftly made the necessary changes: a new constitution, an increase in food and gas subsidies, a shift towards democracy that allowed the moderate Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party, to lead the government through free elections, and the pardon of many Islamist extremists connected to the 2003 attacks including Fazazi.
This says much about where Morocco is heading today. A true reconcilement seems to be in the works.
Here is the question. Can the Moroccan model be repeated in Egypt? Can Egyptians forgive, forget, and move on? In today’s climate, is it possible?
For Egypt to reach the level of reconciliation that Morocco achieved, all parties must be willing to accept the notion of forgiveness: the revolutionists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the general masses, too.
This is probably the biggest hurdle. Tragedies not only provoke pain but also prompt revenge. Every death is followed by more deaths and more reasons for retaliation. Whether the death is of a revolutionist in Tahrir, a Muslim Brotherhood in Rabaa, or a soldier doing his duty is beside the point; it is the call for the “right of the fallen” that inflicts further pain and causes more rupture in the social framework of the country.
One other key element lies in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to eschew violence. Theconcept of terrorizing to destabilize must end if any reconciliatory measures are to be achieved. Yes, many of the Brotherhood leaders are imprisoned, but Fazazi announced his denouncement of terror from prison. Also, the younger generation should relinquish the desire to dominate and accept that sharing power is the best possible scenario.
Not all Muslim Brotherhood members are violent, and many remain faithful at heart to Egypt. These must come forward; they must exhibit to other Egyptians their good intentions and absolute loyalty. Aboutrika, the football star, and others, could have proven to Egyptians that loyal-to-Egypt Brotherhood members exist. They didn’t though, but they should.
Still, the infusion into and the return of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to society is not enough. Many other factions are popping up with the deliberate intention of harming and destabilizing. These will remain a thorn in the side of any reconciliation attempt.
Third, leadership, the incumbent and the incoming, has to avoid the condemning rhetoric. More importantly, it would have to shift, slowly, towards a reconciling tone, establishing contacts, and guiding Egyptians in the healing process. Only a leader that Egyptians listen to can realize such a feat.
The more we hype the blame, the less there is a chance for reconciliation. The same goes with media; toning down the hatred is a must. Across the board, the rhetoric must change.
In today’s climate, this is highly improbable. However, if Morocco did it, why can’t Egyptians? It all started because Tunisia did, and Egyptians followed suit.