Thursday, May 31, 2018

Alaa Al-Aswani: "Do we need the clergy?"

Alaa al-Aswani is a tireless advocate for 
democracy in Egypt. He speaks to all 
who seek more democratic alternatives 
to authoritarian systems.
Alaa Al-Aswany's latest column...
Date 29.05.2018
(Via Deutsche Welle, browser translation.)

Twenty years ago I was invited by a television program to discuss some social issues. I sat waiting for the registration and found a cleric next to me quarreling in a market with the author of the program because he was given a financial reward is not sufficient in his eyes did not calm the Sheikh until he raised the prepared value of the reward. This Sheikh is now offering a daily television program in which people teach piety and contentment.

I remembered this incident when Amr Khaled appeared recently in a television program in which he stressed that the right Muslim should eat from the chickens of a particular company until it is completed in the month of Ramadan. This is how religion is used in commercial advertising. This masquerade makes us wonder: Do Egyptians need clergy? .. Private and public television channels, all under full security control, devote to the clerics daily programs that take hours. What is the benefit to society from giving all this space to the clergy?

Some may say that clerics teach people virtuous morality, but man learns morality at home and at school, not on television. Does one need to watch the elders on television to know that lies and hypocrisy are bad deeds and that theft and murder are crimes? In addition, the morals of Egyptians are worse than ever. Egypt has become at the forefront of the world in terms of sexual harassment and cheating in the exams turned into a widespread and desirable phenomenon of students and their parents. The clerics did not help spread the virtue.

It may be said that the presence of clerics in the media is important because they explain to people the provisions of religion. This was true before the revolution of communications, but now you can sit on the computer and enter easily on the site of the House of Fatwa to know in detail the rule of religion in any matter you want.

It is said that clerics appear on television to convince extremists of Islam's tolerance and push them back from extremism. The truth is that extremists do not trust the official clerics at all and regard them as the hypocrites of the hypocrites. So why is the state keen to give the clergy all this media space?

The answer is that autocratic regimes always need a clergyman. Millions of people are sanctifying religion. Slowly this sanctification moves from religion to religion, and everything the cleric says is authenticated by people. The regime can then use the cleric to justify his repressive policies and tighten his grip on power.

With the exception of communist dictatorships, the dictator of power in the modern era did not take over without the help of clerics. The Catholic Church played an unfortunate role in supporting Argentina's military rule and covering up its crimes. In Italy, although Benito Mussolini was an atheist, he strengthened his relationship with the Catholic Church and used it to support his fascist regime. As for the clerics' support for tyranny in Egypt, nothing happened. Over the course of two centuries, many rulers punished Egypt, but the clerics' support for power did not change. There were always a few clerics who defended the rights of the people and sided with the people against the oppressive ruler, but the majority of clerics supported the tyrant and justified his crimes. Shaykh Muhammad Metwalli Al-Sharaawi (who angers his followers strongly if anyone criticizes him) stood in the People's Assembly on March 20, 1978 and addressed Anwar Sadat, saying:The first advantage of the clergy to the tyrannical regime is to separate the daily problems from the political conditions in the minds of the people. When you are unemployed, poor or sick you can not find the price of medicine. You have two ways to explain this: Either the corrupt failing regime is responsible for your problems, or you believe that our Lord Almighty punished you with sickness, poverty and unemployment because you did not keep praying and fasting. The goal of the cleric here is to keep your thinking away from condemning the regime and to convince you that your sufferings have resulted from your lack of faith and away from God.

"If I had something in my hand to judge this man (President Sadat) to raise to a summit, he would not ask what he was doing."

When the peace line sank in 2006 and popular anger erupted against the corrupt Mubarak regime that killed more than 1,300 people, Sheikh Shahir wanted to lessen the anger of Mubarak. He said on television he envied the victims because they were martyrs and all were in paradise. During the January 2011 revolution The famous sheikhs appeared on television and called on the revolutionaries to leave Tahrir Square and asserted that the revolution was a sedition and a Zionist conspiracy against Islam. In advanced societies, the clergymen are not in the minds. People think about their lives and make their own decisions and do not need instructions from anyone.

There is, of course, a difference between the clergy and religion. We are against the clergy and not against religion. All the religions were originally a revolution against injustice and a call for justice and freedom, but many clerics use religion as goods to sell and seize the price. The great thinker Abdurrahman Badawi (1917-2002) says: "I have read the history of the East and the West. Religion to a paid profession. I know that the owner is an imposter. "

Democracy is the solution

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