Many a time, we have asked the Brotherhood and Salafist leaders to disclose their sources of funding, but every time they got angry and responded by directing insults and accusations against us. If you, as a citizen, demand your right to know the source of finances of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, they would immediately declare you an immoral anti-Islam secularist, who disobeys the law of God and works as an agent of the West and the Zionists.
By Alaa al-Aswany,
Translated from Arabic by New Age Islam Edit Desk
27 Jan 2013
Dear reader, if you are a doctor or an engineer and you have a clinic or private office, would it be legal for you to make a phone call at the end of the year to the tax authority to say that you have lost your job this year and thus unable to pay taxes?
Or does the law require from you that you submit a list of expenses and earnings to be reviewed by the tax authority, so that it can confirm your earnings and estimate the taxes you owe?
Would it be right to consider the submission of your accounts to the tax authority as revealing your secrets? Or should you reject the right of the tax authority to know how much your business has earned?
The answers to these questions are quite simple: The state has every right to know the business profits of its citizens so as to estimate and collect their due taxes.
If this is the jurisdiction of the state over professionals who earn money to spend on their children, what about politicians, who work in the public sector, run for parliament, and are selected for top state positions? If the state can exercise this right over its professional citizens who make money just to earn their family’s livelihood, why not over its politicians, who work in the public sector, run for parliament, and are selected for top state positions?
Is it not the right and duty of the state to monitor the finances of these politicians, their parties and associations? Is it not the right of the citizens to know the source of funding for the person who they have elected as their representative in parliament, or as the prime minister or the president?
It is an essential right of both the state and citizens to expose the sources of funding for politicians and their parties. But in Egypt, we see a strange situation after the revolution. All the Egyptian parties are subject to the supervision of the state; they announce their sources of funding and get their budgets published in newspapers, except for the groups of political Islam. Officials of these parties strongly refuse to reveal their sources of funding, while they spend millions of pounds before our eyes every day. The Muslim Brotherhood is buying hundreds of headquarters in the governorates of Egypt with money of anonymous sources. Suffice to say that the Muslim Brotherhood owns 1,375 headquarters across Egypt, and that its main headquarters in the Muqattam district of Cairo alone was built at a cost of 30 million Egyptian pounds [$4.7 million]. During the elections, we noticed that the Brotherhood and Salafists distributed thousands of tons of free food to the poor in order to buy out their votes, and sometimes have subsidized the price of gas in a way that even the state cannot manage to do. Every day we come across strong evidences proving that the budget of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists is worth hundreds of millions of pounds, but they never speak out where they get these huge amounts of money from. Many a time, we have asked the Brotherhood and Salfist leaders to disclose their sources of funding, but every time they got angry and responded by directing insults and accusations against us. If you, as a citizen, demand your right to know the source of finances of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, they would immediately declare you an immoral anti-Islam secularist, who disobeys the law of God and is an agent of the West and the Zionists. In fact, they are challenging the state and disregarding the laws by refusing to reveal their financial sources. A Brotherhood leader once said: “Yes, we do have billions of pounds, but we will never say where we obtain it from. Nobody can interfere in matters of our money. “May you die out of anger!”
This is not an acceptable logic at all. We are not talking about some trivial case, but a major political crime. Our question is: Is the state unaware of the funding of the Brotherhood and Salafists, or is it colluding with them? There are clear indications of the state’s complicity with the Brotherhood. Before the revolution, Salafist associations used to seek permission from the Ministry of Social Solidarity to receive funds from Gulf figures and associations. But the ministry often refused to allow them to receive funding for security reasons. It implies that the security authorities had discovered that this funding would be employed for political purposes.
When Mubarak stepped down, the Brotherhood and Salafists made an alliance with the military council to share mutual benefits. The military leaders were on the lookout for an organized faction that can support them and safeguard their privileges, while the Brotherhood and Salafists were keen to win a majority in parliament so that they could draft a constitution at their own whim, brushing aside the rest of the national forces. As a result of this alliance, the council remained completely indifferent to the Brotherhood and Salafists’ sources of funding. On Feb. 21, 2011, the Ministry of Social Solidarity approved the amount of 296 million Egyptian pounds [$46.3 million] provided by the Gulf to a Salafist association as funding. This is a huge amount that is completely inconsistent with the charitable association’s goals. The association’s officials could not give any valid justification for this spending. They claimed that they spent 30 million pounds [$4.7 million] on orphans and the poor. As for the rest of the amount, the association said it was utilized for “different development purposes,” which is nothing but a vague and lame excuse. One can easily understand that theses “different development purposes” mean support for the Salafist party during the elections.
It is noteworthy that this huge amount (296 million Egyptian pounds) was provided by well known Gulf figures all at once, and the funding continues to this day to this specific Salafist association. We need to be more aware of the billions being poured down on the Brotherhood and Salafists. The Egyptian government continued to turn a blind eye to this funding, during the transitional period, so as not to embarrass the military council’s allies from the Brotherhood or the Salafists. Earlier the Egyptian government had attempted to monitor the Brotherhood and Salafists’ sources of funding. The former Minister of Justice Mohammed al-Jundi had formed a judicial commission to investigate external funding. But surprisingly, soon after the commission disclosed the amount worth 296 million pounds received by the Salafist association, the judicial commission suddenly decided to permanently close the case and shift its focus on monitoring the funds of civil society organizations. This was when Abdul Moez Ibrahim [the former chief judge at the court of appeals] was referred to criminal court for his involvement in smuggling Americans out of the country. (Later Abdul Moez Ibrahim was honoured by Morsi)
Given the situation, it is obvious that the floodgates are open for enormous funds being poured down on the Brotherhood and Salafists from sources that they don’t want to disclose ever. It is an open secret that with this money they buy votes of the needy and the poor.
They have been receiving this huge funding with the consent of the military council. When the Brotherhood came to power, the situation got worse from bad. Obviously, Morsi can never order the monitoring of the funds of the group he himself belongs to, and that paved his way to power.
We are not accusing anyone of treason, nor are we questioning anyone's patriotism, but the issue is really serious which we cannot tolerate for the following reasons:
1. In every democratic country, receiving foreign funds for political purposes is considered a serious crime in categorical terms, and without any exception. Whenever it is proven that a politician has received some amount of foreign money to serve his electoral purposes, he is bound to be removed from his post and put behind bars. Space doesn’t allow me to mention the list of all cases in which officials accused of receiving foreign funds for political purposes were under investigation in democratic countries. We consider it a serious political and criminal crime that all democratic countries are aware of, and we cannot let it be committed in Egypt at any coast, if we want to make it a healthy democracy.
2. The flow of funds coming from unknown sources to the Brotherhood and the Salafists undermines an important principle of democracy: equality of opportunities. Fair elections cannot be held merely by ensuring absence of fraud. They can only be achieved when all candidates are given equal opportunities to present their programs and ideas. They are achieved when voters choose their candidates freely, away from electoral bribes. They are achieved when voters know the source of funds of each candidate and that how they got them. We cannot accept the results of any election if the Brotherhood and Salafists continue to spend millions coming from unknown sources in order to exploit the poor of Egypt and buy their votes. If the situation remains so, elections can by no means be considered democratic, even if there is no fraud, for these elections will not represent the true will of the people. Rather, they would be nothing but a demonstration of how the Brotherhood and Salafists exploit people’s needs to obtain power in any way and at any cost.
3. The use of unknown sources of funds by political Islam groups poses serious threat to the state’s sovereignty and dignity, because it allows foreign parties to control the course of events in Egypt.
In this context, we should learn a lesson from Lebanon and remember what has happened to this great country ever since the seventies. This was when funding flowed from foreign parties to remodel Lebanon, to meet the desires of those supplying funds, and as a result, the country ended up in a civil war. We do not accuse the Brotherhood and Salafists of treason, God forbid, but, with all due respect for them, we ask: If they have legitimate sources of funds, why don't they disclose them and what makes them refuse to reveal their budget to the public and subject it to government control? If we suppose that the Brotherhood and Salafists receive their funds from groups or governments in the Gulf, are we so naive as to believe that these funding sources are charitable associations? There's an American proverb that goes: “If I pay, I say.”
It is logical that groups funding the Brotherhood and Salafists harbour some political motives that they are keen to achieve in Egypt? If we assume that these funds flow to Islamist groups from Gulf countries, we must be aware that some ruling families in the Gulf have taken a hostile position towards the Egyptian revolution, since it broke out through to the present time.
According to these Gulf regimes, Egyptian revolution poses a serious threat to their survival. They believe that if the revolution achieves success in Egypt and establishes a sound democratic state, the Egyptian model will lead to the fall of many of the Gulf regimes. Do you think, for example, that these Gulf regimes fund Islamist groups to support the revolution, or rather they pay millions so that Islamists can hold an acute grip on power, eliminating the threats that the revolution poses to them?
It is an inherent obligation and right of the Egyptian state as well as citizens to disclose the Brotherhood and Salafists’ funding sources. If the revolution is to mature and learn from its mistakes, we can’t allow the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held unless we get to know who spends on whom. Otherwise, the same thing will again happen in the elections and we will see the Brotherhood and Salafists buying the votes of the poor with money received from unknown sources.
Before the Brotherhood and Salafists get angry with us, they should set an example of integrity and honesty and disclose their sources of funding to the public. Before the national forces participate in any future elections, they must seek an answer to this question: What are the Islamists’ funding sources in Egypt? Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, what are the sources of your funds?
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