Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: “Homophobia is the solution?”

Editor’s note: Egypt is a dangerous place to be gay, thus many LGBT blogger go by a nickname. This blog was brought to SDGLN’s attention by

CAIRO, Egypt — Not too long ago, the ex vice-president, Omar Suleiman, used Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamophobic straw-man in all his interviews during the Jan25 Revolution to scare the whole world of what would happen if Mubarak left.

Today, Muslim Brotherhood are using homophobia and xenophobia to attract people’s votes like they did before during the constitutional referendum and influenced people to vote “yes”!

At the rally attended by about 25,000 people in Tanta, capital of the Gharbiya governorate north of Cairo, Mohammed Badie, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, stated that “it is not permissible for democracy to allow what’s forbidden (haram) or forbid what’s allowed (halal) even if the entire nation agreed to it.”

He stressed that “the seekers of freedom and democracy and citizenship will only find them in Islam, which is keen to build a good man, adding “the West has allowed gay marriage under the pretext of democracy, which we will never allow in Egypt, and we will not allow under the pretext of national unity that a Muslim woman would get married to a Christian man, which violates the Islamic law (Sharia).”

The Muslim Brotherhood infamously campaigned “Islam is the solution” during parliamentary elections a couple of years ago. Today, it says it will contest half of the seats in the country’s parliamentary elections in September, revealing plans to become a major force in the country’s post-revolution politics (though it had previously promised it would not compete for more than 30% of seats). For this end it has founded a new political party called “The Freedom and Justice Party” and appointed its new leaders in a press conference last Saturday.

“This is not a religious or a theocratic party,” claimed Mahmoud Morsi, the party’s newly appointed hawkish leader. He described the platform of the Freedom and Justice Party as civil but with an Islamic background that adheres to the constitution.

Brotherhood leaders said that the political party will be separate and independent from the religious group, although in effect, it was the Brotherhood’s own Shura council that elected the party’s leaders. Both the party’s leader, and its vice president, Dr. Essam Elarian, have been long active in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. The latter infamously declared (when he was the Muslim Brotherhood’s spokesman) during the notorious Cairo 52 or Queen Boat incident in 2002: “From my religious view, all the religious people, in Christianity, in Judaism, condemn homosexuality. … It is against the whole sense in Egypt. The temper in Egypt is against homosexuality.”

Nine years later, even after the amazing changes taking place in Egypt, has Dr. Essam Elarian changed his mind? In a recent interview to the Guardian, he said: “The issue of human rights has become a global language,” he said. “Although each country has its own particulars, respect of human rights is now a concern for all peoples” – though he specifically excluded gay rights. So it seems at best he has slightly moderated his tone but not his views.

Although the Brotherhood appears to have firmly embraced democracy, the means for reconciling that with its religious principles are not entirely clear: the issue of God’s sovereignty vs. people’s sovereignty looks to have been fudged rather than resolved, and this is most apparent for women, non-Muslims and minorities, including Egypt’s LGBT community. We can thus rightly ask: for the Freedom and Justice Party – homophobia is the solution to cover up this blatant contradiction?

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