Growing Influence of Religion Sparks Fears Across Egypt
When he took office as Egypt’s new president in June, Mohammed Morsi pledged to follow a pluralist policy that respected the rights of women and non-Muslim minorities. But everything he has done since then indicates that he intends to replace the secularist dictatorship of his predecessor with an Islamist one.
Egypt’s president sat cross-legged on a green rug with his eyes closed and hands raised in prayer. His lips moved as Futouh Abd al-Nabi Mansour, an influential Egyptian cleric, intoned: “Oh Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us and grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder.”
This was a Friday prayer service held in the western Egyptian port city of Marsa Matrouh on October 19. The words of this closing prayer, taken from a collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, seemed quite familiar to Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new president. A video clip obtained by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows Morsi murmuring the word “amen” as this pious request for the dispersal of the Jews is uttered.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, has since removed a note concerning the president’s visit to Marsa Matrouh from its website, and the daily newspaper al-Ahram has reported that the president must have been “very embarrassed” over the matter. Are such statements enough to dispel the incident?