THE ISLAMISTS IN EGYPT ARE EGYPT’S TROJAN VIRUS AND THE BALLOT BOX IS ONLY THEIR TROJAN HORSE INTO TROY
Warning: No one should conclude from this article that the Islamists of Egypt are as glamorous and great as the Greeks.It will be a fatal mistake to make that link.
YOU MOST PROBABLY know what the Islamists are – those sons of vipers and wolves in sheep clothing who constitute a real threat to Egypt’s nascent democracy, progress and human rights. Not only that – they cannot be trustworthy of preserving peace and security in the Middle East region. Their history and literature, which are based on a suspect political ideology, only betray their nature.
The problem is that they are on a deception mission – this is not a new invention by them. It has always been part of their political creed to get to power through deception if they can’t through violence. So they apply what is called taqiyya التقيّة, which is the Arabic word for subterfuge – a stratagem used by the Islamists to deceive others and trick them into thinking they are peaceful democrats. The Oxford Dictionary defines subterfuge as: “deceit used in order to achieve one’s goal”. The Cambridge Dictionary: “a trick or a dishonest way of achieving something”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary repeats the same meaning: “a. deception by artifice or stratagem in order to conceal, escape, or evade; b. a deceptive device or stratagem.”
This is exactly what the Islamists in Egypt, and in the whole of the Middle East, are trying to do right now. They have learned that they cannot seize power through a coup d’état or violent revolution – Egypt is simply too important for the world to allow them to do so, particularly as they stick to their true nature. They understood their relative weakness; and, therefore, they resorted to deception and surf-riding the wave of the Arab-Spring. So we now hear them talking about democracy, human rights, women rights and the rights of the 17 million strong Coptic Christian minority.
There can be no question, judged from what their political ideology which is preserved in their voluminous writings and confirmed by their actions since the Muslim Brotherhood had been formed by Hassan al-Banna in 1928, that they are anti-democracy, anti-human rights, anti-women and anti-Copts. This is not the occasion to go through that in detail. The intention of the author here is simply to show how their deceptive nature could be likened to the Trojan-horse trick and stratagem.
A Trojan horse حصان طروادة is a term used in the English language, and other languages, to denote “a person or thing that joins and deceives a group or organization in order to attack it from the inside – e.g.; older supporters have accused the new leadership of being a Trojan horse that will try to destroy the party from the inside.”[i] “Someone or something intended to defeat or subvert from within usually by deceptive means.”[ii] Many of you, who are computer literate, will know Trojan horse in its other often used electronic form, “Trojan virus الفيروس الطروادي”: a software that disguises itself as a valuable and useful computer programme (offered freely to download on the internet). Some people are fooled by the ploy and, by downloading the programme, allow this virus to get into their computer system, resulting in harming it or stealing valuable information. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a seemingly useful computer program that contains concealed instructions which when activated perform an illicit or malicious action (as destroying data files)” It is this masquerading as a benign application which defines the tricky and destructive nature of the programme.
THE TROJAN HORSE AND TROJAN VIRUS are terms that find their origin in Greek mythology. The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War, which is thought to have happened towards the end of the heroic Bronze Age (3300-1200 BC). The legend tells us about the stratagem that the Greeks used in their war with Troy, and allowed them eventually to enter the city by deception and inflict defeat on the Trojans. War was trickery, they believed, and deceit was the alternative if a city could not be taken by force. The war continued for a long time, and even after 10-year siege the Greeks could not conquer Troy, which was protected by very high, impregnable walls. But eventually, a Greek general, Ulysses, who was the hero of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, thought of a trick: his men built a huge wooden horse and hid some of their fighting men inside, and then the rest pretended to sail away and abandon their siege and attack on Troy. A Greek worrier, Sinon, was left behind; and he, pretending to have deserted the Greeks, told the Trojans that the wooden horse was intended by the retreating Greek army as a gift to the gods to ensure their safe return home. Deceived, the Trojans wheeled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That proved the end of Troy, as the Greek force inside the horse – once it found itself in Troy – got out of the horse by stealth at night and opened the gates of Troy. The Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night, thus entered the city of Troy, captured and destroyed it.
Not everyone in Troy, however, believed Sinon, and a few Trojans suspected the wooden horse and the ‘gift’. They had known their enemy for a long time, and knew that they could not be trusted. They believed that the horse was only a trick, guessed the plot and strongly warned their fellow citizens against admitting the wooden horse into their city. Two women particularly tried to avert the catastrophe, Helen of Troy[iii] and King Priam’s daughter Cassandra[iv]. The latter, who was also the soothsayer of Troy, warned in vain that the horse would signal the downfall of the city and its royal family. Laocoön, the Trojan priest of Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes, also advised his fellow Trojans against accepting the Trojan horse from the Greeks. “A deadly fraud is this,” he said, “devised by the Achaean[v] chiefs!” “Do not trust the Horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts.” Virgil, in his Aeneid,[vi] describes the desperation of Laocoön in trying to avert the awaiting disaster:
Laocoön, follow’d by a num’rous crowd,
Ran from the fort, and cried, from far, aloud:
‘O wretched countrymen! What fury reigns?
What more than madness has possess’d your brains?
Think you the Grecians from your coasts are gone?
And are Ulysses’ arts no better known?
This hollow fabric either must inclose,
Within its blind recess, our secret foes;
Or ‘t is an engine rais’d above the town,
T’ o’erlook the walls, and then to batter down.
Somewhat is sure design’ d, by fraud or force:
Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse.’
But all to no avail – the Greek enemy was let in hiding in the wooden horse, and that was the means by which the great city of the Troy met its demise. But it wasn’t the wooden horse or the Greek enemy alone that ended Troy – one cannot but blame the foolishness of the Trojans that allowed the enemy in despite the warnings and predictions of their wise men and women.
IN THE LAST FEW YEARS we have heard the statement that the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) of Egypt have reformed; that they have accepted democracy; that they are moderate Islamists. This is all based on cosmetic changes designed only to hide their true nature, and to deceive us into thinking that they are now a benign, pro-democracy force. We say no – the Muslim Brotherhood are Egypt’s Trojan virus: the elections and the ballot box, to them, is just a ploy, a Trojan horse that will allow them into power. Once they are there, Egypt may face the same fate of Troy, and any hope of a real civilian, secular democracy will instantly vanish. No one should trust an Islamist who poses as a democrat unless he or she entirely renounces the ideology of political Islam and stop talking to us about democracy, human rights and secularism with an “Islamic reference”. The Islamist political thought – as one finds from its original sources – does not support a liberal, pluralistic democracy; human rights as the world knows them in the UN Universal Declaration; or a secular, tolerant society.
It is important for all pro-democracy forces in Egypt to keep in mind the story of the sack of Troy through trickery – the Islamists’ intention for the Egypt of our dreams, one that is secular and really democratic, is not dissimilar from what the Greeks designed for Troy.
[i] Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
[ii] Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
[iii] Helen of Troy, or Helen of Sparta, was not actually Trojan. She was daughter of Zeus and Leda (or Nemesis). Her abduction by Paris (son of Priam, the King of Troy) brought about the Trojan War. Nonetheless, the legend in one account tells us that she sided with the Trojans, and tried to expose the Trojan horse trick.
[iv] Cassandra was also the soothsayer of Troy. King Priam was king of Troy during the Trojan wars.
[v] Achaean is one of the collective names used for the Greeks in Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey.
[vi] Aeneid by Virgil, translated by John Dryden (London; 1797; printed for J. And R. Tonson and S. Draper); Book 2.