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Not German Christian Democrats
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 14 - 03 - 2019

Egyptian Political Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood often argue that Germany has a leading religious political party, the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), founded in 1945, and that Egypt could therefore follow suit and establish a similar religious party. They have been making this claim for decades in order to try to legitimise their status and present themselves as a non-violent pro-democracy movement happy to abide by Western democratic values.
However, the Brotherhood uses this tricky argument in an attempt to legitimise its political status by falsely comparing two completely different philosophies, missions and party structures that also address two very dissimilar societies.
According to standard accounts, the CDU was founded by a diverse group of former German Weimar Republic (1919-33) politicians, including activists from the old Roman Catholic Centre Party, liberal and conservative Protestants, workers, intellectuals and segments of the middle classes that had decided to become active in Germany's new post-war democracy in order to prevent the rebirth of fascism. Despite their disparate backgrounds, the party's leaders and members shared critical core beliefs that have shaped and guided it since its founding.
Meanwhile, the Political Islamists, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, have been manipulating the Muslim religion since the group's inception to serve their organisation's interests. The possibility of their giving up this proposition and engaging in politics constructively is unlikely. It would involve abandoning the rhetorical path they have been following (a rhetoric full of promises that they have not been obliged to deliver on) and working hard to build up their organisation based on clear ruling mechanisms.
The CDU believed some decades ago that historical conflicts and divisions between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Germany had been partly responsible for the rise of Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s. Over time this stance has progressed until the party had become a strong advocate of European integration and has cultivated close relations with the United States when it has been in government. In contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood's political stance is based on establishing a polarised society that is inflexible if not antagonistic towards other Muslim denominations and that obviously distances itself from all non-Islamist citizens. Clearly, Egyptian Copts are not welcome in the organisation.
German citizens certainly do not believe that religion on its own can advance their economy, and as a result while the CDU has maintained its party line German society as a whole has come to believe that only scientific efforts exerted by citizens can build the country. For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood knows that religion has always been a lifeline for Egyptians, and it therefore tends to exploit religion in the interests of the organisation, promising its followers that the Almighty will reward them for abiding by religious principles as it interprets them. This has had the result that some Egyptian citizens have come to believe that the nation will progress by abiding by religious fundamentals.
By the end of the 1940s, the German Christian Democrats had reached the consensus that a “social market economy” (a mix of free-market capitalism, strong government regulation, and a comprehensive welfare state) was the best alternative for Germany. The Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, has never possessed any kind of economic expertise that could be converted into a clear national strategy, apart from the claim that God will build up our “religious economy.” Moreover, its members only pretend to abide by the Muslim religion, and the organisation does not even apply true Islamic principles.
Egyptian Political Islamists have yet to revisit their overall understanding of religion and of the role of religion in society and politics. When they do so, they will find that it contradicts the core of their ideology. Distancing Islam from politics will immunise it against the desires and interests of politicians, and this will serve our religion and nation best. The CDU has served its nation well, comprehensively and scientifically, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood has simply benefitted from the connotations of its name while dangerously manipulating the society. This manipulation can lead to violence and confrontation with others who are against its agenda.
Germany has advanced to become the third-largest economy in the world today due to many factors that have nothing to do with the Christian Democratic label. Established almost two decades before the CDU was founded, the Muslim Brotherhood has managed only to maintain its rigid principles through several generations, offering society nothing but hatred, ignorance and violence.
These things were clearly present when it was in power in Egypt, even as it had a perfect chance at that time to advance its image. The least that we can do today is to strip the group of the power it derives from bearing the label of Islam.
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The writer is a liberal politician.


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