From the Atlantic:
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s decision not to attend this coming Sunday’s Coptic Easter mass was entirely predictable. Morsi, after all, declined to attend Pope Tawadros II’s November investiture and, during his previous stint as chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, Morsi visited a church on Christmas but made a point of emphasizing that he exited before services started. Yet because Morsi’s decision comes on the heels of a Brotherhood fatwa prohibiting Muslims from wishing Christians a “Happy Easter,” Morsi’s coldness towards Christians reflects a central paradox of the Brotherhood’s Islamism: despite its longtime promise to “implement the sharia” upon achieving power, the Brotherhood only offers specific interpretations of Islamic legal principles when it needs to justify its most intolerant impulses.
The author, Eric Trager, argues further:
So while the Brotherhood is certainly an Islamist organization, the vagueness of its Islamism reveals its most salient characteristic: namely, its totalitarianism, which deploys Islam primarily as a rhetorical device for maintaining internal unity and distinguishing itself from its potential enemies. It interprets sharia coherently (even if offensively) only when it can emphasize its differences with these enemies, such as through its current argument that Muslims’ theological differences with Christians should trump the harmless pleasantry of wishing someone a Happy Easter. This is why Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s president, won’t be a president for all Egyptians. Totalitarianism has no room for tolerance.
Overall, a pretty insightful analysis of the Brotherhood’s interesting brand of political Islam.
The sectarian intolerance, in line with the increased curtailing of press freedoms, is just another example of Morsi’s attempts to consolidate power and establish a stronger political base. What Morsi should be doing is placing a requisite focus on the economy and bringing about the reforms necessary to stem inequality, skewed wealth distributions (partial results of corruption and nepotism under Mubarak) and rising unemployment. Unfortunately, Morsi has focused more on identifying and alienating political rivals.