There is an old yiddish saying, “you sleep with dogs and you’re going to get fleas” that is exactly what happened to Egypt’s Kifaya movement, they started out as a secular opposition group to the Mubarak government and in four short years have become an Islamic group working working with the Muslim Broththerhood–how did they do it–they slept with the dogs:
During 2004-2006 the Kifaya movement was not just Egypt’s main moderate opposition force but the most important organized liberal group in the Arabic-speaking world. It began in December 2004 when participants in a small demonstration chanted they had had “enough” (kifaya) of President Husni Mubarak’s quarter-century-long rule as head of a half-century-long regime.
Thus began the Egyptian Movement for Change, best known as the Kifaya group. Those involved expected imminent, dramatic change. George Isaac, the movement’s coordinator, reflected what one reporter called this “delirious optimism.” “The door of change is open,” Isaac proclaimed “and no one can close it again. Never.”
…….In the 2005 elections, Kifaya did not do well…… Kifaya’s presidential candidate was soon in prison. The masses didn’t rise up. Liberalism clearly couldn’t compete with either the regime’s Arab nationalism or the Brotherhood’s Islamism. Isaac now concluded: “Our people are naïve.”….
In 2006, then, the movement made a U-turn. Rather than challenge its competitors’ xenophobia, Kifaya imitated it. The movement’s new priority was not educational reform, fighting corruption, or expanding civil rights but demanding Egypt renounce its peace treaty with Israel. The goal was not to prove the regime to be dictatorial and incompetent but rather unpatriotic, a lackey of Israel and America. Next came the Israel-Hizballah war of summer 2006, Kifaya tried to jump on the Hizballah bandwagon. Isaac, standing next to a Muslim Brotherhood leader, told a rally, “I ask you to applaud the master Hassan Nasrallah [leader of Hizballah]. And to denounce the one who called him reckless [Mubarak].” What, then, was the solution, another war against Israel? Isaac even claimed, “Hizballah’s victory in Lebanon has given new life to the spirit of resistance against Mubarak.” Kifaya was simply leaping backward to the Marxist left’s failed effort in the 1960s and 1970s to out-radical the Arab nationalist dictatorships.
Isaac claimed the Brotherhood had moderated. “They used to raise the Qur’an during political demonstrations but now have stopped. This is Kifaya’s influence.” That assertion was simply nonsense. ….. Kifaya was not moderating the Brotherhood, the Brotherhood was Islamizing Kifaya. Finally, Egypt’s most important liberal grouping had come full circle. In early 2007 Isaac was replaced as Kifaya’s coordinator by Abd al-Wahab al-Masiri, a self-styled expert on Zionism, former Al-Ahram journalist (fired by the government after signing the peace treaty with Israel), and a former philosophy professor. Masiri was author of an eight-volume Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism. Lest one think Masiri a real rebel, Mubarak gave his encyclopedia the Cairo International Book Fair award for best scholarly work and the work was also endorsed by the Arab League. He takes a traditional leftist-style approach on these issues, blaming the Jews’ evil behavior on history, not theology, and agreeing that the Holocaust happened but was exploited by Zionism. The book argues that Jews don’t treat others as human beings and that Zionism is based on a “racist imperialistic culture.” On an al-Jazira program, Masiri debated against secularism. In a November 2004 interview, he accused America of using ideas like democracy and human rights to seek world hegemony, interfere in other countries’ affairs, and force them to follow its policy. But if Masiri sees democracy as a front for imperialism, what is he doing heading the main political organization in Egypt supposedly battling for democracy? The bottom line is that Kifaya has largely fallen apart, focuses on fighting the Arab-Israeli conflict, and embraces Islamism. Its leader is anti-democratic, anti-Western, and antisemitic. How could its fate better illustrate the power of the Arabic-speaking world’s dominant ideas and politics as well as the difficulty of escaping them? Antisemitism, it has been said, is the socialism of fools, and patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Kifaya has fulfilled both of these maxims. Ultimately, Kifaya, instead of really saying “Enough!,” ended up merely giving Egypt more of the same.
Read Bary Rubin’s entire article by clicking here: Enough of “Enough”