The Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt held a secret meeting last week in anticipation of Mohammed Morsi’s expected presidential victory. According to the Arabic report, discovered by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the leaders drew up the “Jazira Plan” to Islamize Egypt and pave the way for the resurrection of the Caliphate.
The “Jazira Plan” was personally approved by Mohammed Badi, the Supreme Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the report states. Among the first steps is to “replace the nation anthem with the so-called anthem of the Islamic Caliphate.” Police uniforms will be swapped out for “Islamic garb.” The Ministry of Information will be disbanded and replaced by a new office that will “publish Islamic heritage only” and regulate the culture. The memorization of Quranic verses will be required for students to advance academically.
The name of the plan is telling. Jazira is Arabic for “island” or “peninsula.” The report states that it is referring to the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula. This is not a plan for Egypt; it’s a regional plan. If the report is accurate, the Muslim Brotherhood is already thinking ahead towards a Caliphate.
This isn’t news to close observers of the Brotherhood. One of the group’s spokesmen said in February, “Concerning the Islamic caliphate, this is our dream, and we hope to achieve it…our first goal is the renaissance of Egypt, then the Arab world and then the Islamic world. This will come gradually.”
A hardline cleric named Safwat Hegazy spoke at a campaign rally for Morsi. He declared, “We are seeing the dream of the Islamic Caliphate coming true at the hands of Mohammed Morsi” and “The capital of the Caliphate and the United Arab States is Jerusalem, God willing.”
This hope sounds fantastical to most Westerners, including FOX News Channel’s Shepard Smith, but the Arab Spring makes this seem achievable to Islamists.
Tunisian President Ben Ali was overthrown in 2011 and the Islamist Ennahda Party won. Its secretary-general and current Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, said in November, “My brothers, you are at a historic moment in a new cycle of civilisation, God willing. We are in sixth caliphate, God willing.” A Hamas official spoke at the same event. The Ennahda Party reacted to the subsequent outcry by saying that his words were misrepresented and he was talking about “good governance and a break with corruption…not the establishment of an Islamic regime.”
It’s easy to see why the Brotherhood is talking about a Caliphate. The Islamists won the elections in Tunisia and Egypt and are expected to win Libya’s next month. The Brotherhood affiliate, Islah, is the most powerful party in Yemen. The Sudanese regime says it is instituting Sharia law but still may fall to an Islamist revolution. The Syrian dictatorship might be overthrown by Brotherhood-supported rebels. Turkey is now under Islamist leadership. Qatar is subsidizing the Brotherhood’s rise and Saudi Arabia remains a theocracy influenced by the Wahhabists.
The Brotherhood’s first order of business is to implement Sharia law in Egypt. The Brotherhood operates under a doctrine that it calls “gradualism.” In December, Supreme Guide Badi said that there are six phases to the Brotherhood methodology: Sharia law on the individual level; Sharia law on the family unit; Sharia law on the society; Sharia law on the government; the resurrection of the Caliphate and lastly, “mastership of the world.”
The Brotherhood will declare that it is democratic throughout this process, but, as top Brotherhood cleric Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi explains, “Our democracy is different.” The Brotherhood is for a “genuine type of democracy, for a society driven by the laws of Sharia that is compatible with the values of freedom, human rights, justice and equity.” The use of these terms comforts the West and non-Islamists, but mean something different to Islamists.
One question moving forward will be how the Brotherhood’s Caliphate agenda clashes with Iran’s Shiite Crescent agenda. The sides are already in conflict in Syria. The relationship between the Arab Islamists led by the Brotherhood and the Turkish Islamists further needs to be understood. The Turkish and Arab Islamists are on the same side in Syria but the Muslim Brotherhood condemned Prime Minister Erdogan when he told Egypt to adopt a secular constitution when he visited the country. “[W]e do not think that he or his country alone should be leading the region or drawing up its future,” a Brotherhood deputy leader retorted.
The Brotherhood shouldn’t plan too far ahead, though. The truth is that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces still holds the most power in Egypt. The Islamists will need more than the presidency to make their dream come true. The next step in Egypt’s future is the writing of a constitution. The fate of Egypt, and perhaps the region, hangs in the balance.