Friday Prayers for Egypt: Activists, Shuffle

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The news is not new, but it is current. This last week has seen another spate of activist arrests, coupled with yet another shuffle in the cabinet. The themes are on repeat with only names differing. But names can make all the difference.

One of the activists’ names is Ahmed Maher, founder of the principle youth movement behind the revolution. Having supported Morsi during the run-off presidential elections, he is now provisionally detained by the Morsi-appointed prosecutor general for ‘inciting protests’. A prominent Islamist, Hazem Abu Ismail, is under investigation as well, for roughly the same charge. As far as names go, these are major ones.

There are new names in the cabinet also. These are not so prominently noteworthy, but they include two judges and three additional Muslim Brothers. The longstanding call by the opposition for an inclusive cabinet was not answered; will this one prove more effective?

God, may it be so. Placing politics aside, the government must work. Increase the leadership and capability of each minister to nurture growth in each sector of society. Give them boldness to tackle the economic issues facing Egypt, with wisdom especially on the IMF loan. Their jobs cannot be easy.

But inasmuch as this cabinet is not reflective of societal consensus, God, may the playing of politics work as well. Opposition pressure must demand tangible results; government plans must stimulate opposition counter-proposals. Help the interplay to enliven debate in society about the direction Egypt must take. May both government and opposition fully represent the people.

But where politics leads to a scaling back of freedom, God, help the people to demand more. Perhaps these activists crossed a line. They live on the edge of the permissible, God, and need your wisdom deeply. The quest for justice is easily derailed by a single poor decision.

Of course, perhaps they made none and are simply targeted as a political nuisance. Give the government strength in its legitimacy, God, to accept protest, and as necessary, reform.

Activists and ministers are almost by nature at odds, but they are both Egyptians, both working for the betterment of Egypt. Help society to grasp this, God. Perhaps if it does then leadership will follow.

May the names of the nation be men of principle. As they shuffle, in and out of prison or of office, may these principles remain.