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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Fire and Rain

Flag Cross Quran

God,

Did you send the rain? If so, was it to discredit or diffuse?

The Azhar issued a call to peacefulness, supported by the churches, and attended by nearly all politicians. It was a good call, though it offered – rightly – no political solutions to the crisis.

Did this keep attendance at protests down? Or was it violence from the past week? Or was it simply the rain?

But it did not stop the fire. Clashes continued throughout the country, and at the presidential palace Molotov cocktails were thrown. Now, following the Azhar statements, the opposition appears on the defensive.

Do they deserve to be, God? Surely you have little patience for violence, and while they denied all initiation, they appeared to ride the wave.

But what of the others, God, whoever they are? Last week’s protests – the peaceful ones – were descended upon by teams of sexual harassers. A few demonstrators were killed by drive by shootings. And who knows if those who tossed the Molotovs belonged to the opposition or not.

Do you have patience for them? Are they the current victors, or the result of frustrated failure?

A vigilante-slash-terrorist group has emerged. Is the Black Bloc the source of all mayhem, as some assert? Are they a new boogeyman, to crack down upon? Are they just kids, responding to violence against revolutionaries? Are they a tool of the opposition, or worse?

God, calm Egypt. Settle things down. But can all pray this? Some are seething. Some feel betrayed. Some feel that peacefulness will only entrench power, power they feel has fallen into the wrong hands.

What should they pray, God? May they cry out to you, and may you deliver them. Give them courage, but not rage. Give them determination, but not stubbornness. Save them, first and foremost from themselves, especially if they are in the wrong.

And if they are in the wrong, give patience to those they have offended. May they punish rightly, but not crush. May the law hold.

For if they have harmed others, if they have damaged property – they are in the wrong, God. The fact they have likely been wronged makes no difference. Forgive them, God, and show them the right path, whatever it may be.

And give them something that will heal. For if they are in the right their vengeance will only lead to more destruction. You take no pleasure in death, God, even of the wicked.

Are there wicked present? Spare Egypt from this being true. If there is pride, bring humility. If there is arrogance, bring humbling. If there is manipulation, bring exposure.

But love covers over sins, God. Can love cure? Can love convict? Can love transform? Can love build a functional political system?

God, let your light embarrass all wrong. Yet somehow, have those struggling in the arena to come to a place where they can look their competition in the eye and find respect. Surely to do this you must change all, perhaps some more than others. May your creatures love, God, but may your justice be quick, and mercy be by its side.

If not, all will fall, God. Who will be left to guide Egypt?

May your fire not burn, God, but refine. May your rain not flood, God, but cleanse. May men of righteousness emerge.

May Egypt find peace, stability, and prosperity – and soon.

Amen.

 

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Lapido Media Middle East Published Articles

Muslim Brotherhood Launches Development Campaign as Violence Rocks the Nation

MB Helwan Trees

Not all in Egypt is chaotic.

The Muslim Brotherhood are repairing schools, serving the poor and beautifying streets.

While violent protests and political impasse grab the headlines, the Muslim Brotherhood has launched a much quieter campaign to commemorate the two year anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

Hatem Abd al-Akhir is the leader of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in the city of Helwan, to the south of Cairo.

‘We wanted to celebrate the revolution in a different way,’ he told Lapido Media. ‘But other parties are trying to interrupt society and start another revolution.’

The Muslim Brotherhood built its reputation on providing social service to the poor. As the economy declines and their popularity diminishes, they peg the opposition as agents of instability.

Ahmed Kamal is the FJP youth secretary in Helwan. ‘We’re trying to get Egypt into a new stage of building and development,’ he said to LM. ‘This is the message we want to convey both inside and outside Egypt.’

To do so, the Brotherhood is planting one million sapling trees throughout Egypt, one hundred of which are in Helwan. Kamal led teams of youth digging holes in the limited dirt of the urban landscape, boring even into the sidewalk.

Hatem Abd al-Akhir
Hatem Abd al-Akhir

Abd al-Akhir, meanwhile, participated in the effort to provide a million citizens with healthcare. An ophthalmologist, he offered free eye examinations to diabetic patients and at-cost treatment for any operation.

As the manager of the Helwan Eye Center, he assures normal costs for patients are 30 percent below market standard. Yet the centre still makes a small profit, illustrating a mix of business and charity, politics and social good.

‘The Muslim Brotherhood is a logistics service for advertising,’ he said describing the campaign. ‘We want to propagate values in our community which will help keep the peace.

‘When we offer low cost service we oblige others to not raise their prices above what is acceptable.’

But in a time of great social and political upheaval, it is unsurprising some are critical.

Ahmed Ezzalarab is the deputy chairman of the liberal, opposition Wafd Party. ‘They are trying to distract people by giving a different image of development, but it is too late,’ he told Lapido Media. ‘They are being exposed for their secret agenda which the people are rejecting.’

Ezzalarab does not dispute their social work, but recognizes it is necessary to oppose the Brotherhood for their poor record in power. In recent weeks train accidents and building collapses have claimed the lives of dozens of citizens.

‘Governance has never been worse in Egypt’s history,’ he said. ‘They cannot run the country administratively; everything they touch fails.’

But in describing a secret agenda, Ezzalarab appeals to conspiracy.

‘We are completely against the violence, which is working to distract the people from the peaceful nature of the opposition,’ he said. ‘It is being funded by Wahabi and Gulf money, because they are scared to see civil forces come to power.’

Ezzalarab believes the Brotherhood is panicking, fearful the army will step into the violence and unseat them from power. Perhaps he is right.  Brotherhood leaders are clearly propagating the conspiracy theory.

Anas al-Qadi, Brotherhood spokesman said on the official MB website, Ikhwanweb.com: ‘This is the difference between the Muslim Brotherhood marking the memory of the revolution with greatly appreciated services, and so-called civil forces celebrating the revolution with flagrant acts of arson and violence, spreading chaos and destruction and vandalism.’

The website also accused one of the newly organized vigilante groups, Black Bloc, of being an arm of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Any of the various accusations may be correct, but they are presented without evidence and signal that both social service and social violence are a means to an end.

Ahmed Kamal
Ahmed Kamal

‘If you are trying to apply Islam as you understand it, you have to reach authority by all legal and peaceful means,’ said Kamal. ‘To do this you have to show people why they must support you.’

Kamal was responding to the charge that the Brotherhood is putting good works on display, contrary to Islam.

‘We need to differentiate between being a Muslim and being part of an Islamist program which competes with other parties,’ he said.

‘As a Muslim, you can choose to tell or not tell of your good works, it depends on your intention. If you tell you can be a role model that others will follow, but God will judge you in either case.’

But for now, Egypt is the judge, and the verdict is a cliff-hanger.

This article was first published on Lapido Media.

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