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DURING the honeymoon period of the Muslim Brotherhood Group and the Free Officers Movement, the spiritual guide of the group Hassan Al-Hudaybi asked Jamal Abdul Nasser in 1954, weeks before the so-called Mansheya Incident, to issue a law imposing Egyptian women to wear veil.
Abdul Nasser replied, “You have two girls who study at the university, and you were unable to make them wear a veil. So how do you ask me to veil ten million Egyptian women?”
This question was the beginning of the tense relationship between the two sides.
Abdul Nasser did not make a concession of this kind to a group that was seeking, through its interference in laws, to impose its policy on society and the people. It is the denunciation of the Muslim Brotherhood Group and the Islamic currents throughout their history, as they try to seize control of the government by putting pressure on the constitutional institutions in the state.
This happened in Kuwait in 1995 when MPs of Islamist movements imposed the law to ban coeducation. This cost the state, and still does, hundreds of millions of dinars, even though such a ban is against the Kuwaiti culture, customs and traditions.
Therefore, we see today that this ban, or rather separation, is in classes and halls only, as male and female students meet in the corridors and courtyards of universities. Later, laws and decisions were issued that limited the freedoms of individuals.
One of the backwardness imposed by these groups was to ban alcohol. This led to a high rate of drug smuggling and cases of addiction both in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It has even spread this scourge among teenagers.
There are experiences in the world about the negative impact of banning alcohol-based drinks on the economy and society. This includes the Volstead Act of 1920, which was approved by the US Congress. Alcohol was banned and those who dealt with it were punished. For a period of 13 years, the American states lived at the mercy of the alcohol mafia, and that cost them hundreds of deaths in gang wars. Eventually, the government realized in 1933 that the alcohol ban law was propagated by liquor merchants, and some MPs and sympathetic clerics. The congress rescinded it.
In the Islamic world, only four countries out of a total of 57 prohibit alcoholic drinks. They are Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In terms of drug abuse, these four countries have a higher rate compared to the remaining 53 countries that allow alcohol.
In Afghanistan, about 15 percent of Afghans are addicts. About 4.4 million Iranians, which is equivalent to five percent of the population, use drugs. According to Saudi statistics, there are more than two hundred thousand drug users. In Kuwait, the number of addicts is about 40 thousand, according to official statistics.
In the Islamic countries that allow alcoholic drinks, 99 percent of its residents do not drink. They are the most keen to uphold the teachings of Islam and avoid the harmful effects of the alcohol. This has led to a decrease in the number of drug addicts.
This is an open country with millions of expatriates who cannot be forced to change their customs and traditions.
There is no doubt that all this is causing harm to the country, which prompted these laws and decisions imposed on the executive authority to close Kuwait.
If the ban on an innocent activity such as yoga was imposed by one MP on the government, then it was basically acquiescent to this kind of pressure. Therefore the situation will not change as long as we do not have a decision-making government.
On this occasion, I remember a statement made by the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in the 1970s. When he was asked, “How do you allow alcohol in Dubai when we are an Islamic country?”, he replied, “We have built mosques, and our religious awareness is active. So whoever wants to go to the mosque, it is open to him. And whoever wants a drink, it is available to him”.
Is there someone today who can read the wisdom of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times