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View Full Version : Democracy in Egypt - Islam is the Solution?



sufi
24-11-2005, 11:40 AM
the first multi-party elections in the most populous arab state are slowly working themselves out... it's a multi stage process, & notably the first time that different parties have been allowed to contest the election, rather than a referendum on the ruling party. Hopefully this does represent positive progress in the middle east (cf plus ca change (http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?t=2682) thread)?
There has been a certain amount of trouble, as far as i could tell that's from ruling party supporters trying to sabotage other candidates. the level of apathy among Egyptians is awesome, absolutely no faith or interest in the process - some areas have 10% turnout - people assume rightly or not, that the whole deal is flawed as the US/Israel run things anyway

i read this article in yesterdays' Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1648455,00.html) by the VP of the muslim brotherhood, (motto - islam is the solution) laying out their position which seems to me to be a remarkably genuine and responsible platform in the face of overwhelmingly tricky situation where they are illegal and hated and feared by the state due to their enormous popular support.
It seems that the brotherhood are trying to avoid causing a situation like Algeria in the early 90s where islamists won a big democratic majority then were banned and went back to the bush in a miserable and brutal civil war.


No need to be afraid of us - The Muslim Brotherhood believes that democratic reforms could trigger a renaissance in Egypt

The violence that has erupted across Egypt in recent days is the result of government panic at the success of the Muslim Brotherhood - even in the rigged polls that pass for elections in the Arab world's most populous country. As the second round of voting opened on Sunday in Egypt's tightly restricted parliamentary contest, around 500 of our members were arrested at dawn and machete-wielding thugs attacked our supporters at polling stations. But the provocations of a corrupt, oppressive government - backed by the most powerful countries in the world - will not intimidate either our organisation, which has survived for 77 years, or the Egyptian people, who have increasingly come to trust us.

Despite the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood - or rather because of it - the organisation continues to be banned in Egypt. Nevertheless, by standing as independents whose affiliation is widely known, 17 of our members managed to be elected as the largest opposition group in the last parliament.

Given the pressure for change, we mobilised to win more seats in the hope that these new elections would be more honest and free. We are committed to democracy and to respect fair election results, whatever the outcome. But we have contested only 120 of the 444 parliamentary seats, knowing that standing for more might provoke the regime into fixing the results. The first round of parliamentary elections, in which the Muslim Brotherhood won more than 65% of seats it contested despite large-scale rigging and intimidation, confirm that our movement is seen by the public as a viable political alternative. But in spite of the confidence the Egyptian people have in us, we are not seeking more than a small piece of the parliamentary cake. This decision is dictated by political realities, both locally and internationally: in other words, the possible reaction of a repressive government backed to the hilt by the US and other western governments.

What we want to do instead is trigger a renaissance in Egypt, rooted in the religious values upon which Egyptian culture and society is built; for we believe these values can effectively deal with the obstacles that have hindered reform and development. At present, political life in Egypt is plagued by apathy; only a few parties with puny followings are officially allowed to join the political process. The priority is therefore to revitalise political life so that citizens can join a real debate about the solutions to Egypt's chronic problems and the sort of future we want for our country. We believe that the domination of political life by a single political party or group, whether the ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other, is not desirable: the only result of such a monopoly is the alienation of the majority of the people.

Our aim in seeking to win a limited number of seats in parliament is to create an effective parliamentary bloc that, in conjunction with others, can energise an inclusive debate about the priorities of reform and development. Not a single political, religious, social or cultural group should be excluded from Egypt's political life. The objective must be to end the monopoly of government by a single party and boost popular engagement in political activity.

Second, we would hope to contribute to achieving significant political and constitutional reforms: in particular, to remove restrictions imposed by the regime on political activity and give the parliament a much bigger say than it has now. Without real powers to question the executive, parliament will remain a mere facade. Third, we would hope to contribute to greatly needed social, cultural and economic reforms. Such reforms can take place only once the grip of the state executive is regulated by an independent legislature and independent judiciary.

The success of the Muslim Brotherhood should not frighten anybody: we respect the rights of all religious and political groups. So much damage has been inflicted on the country over the past century because of despotism and corruption that it would be impossible to embark on wider political reform and economic development without first repairing the damage to our basic institutions. Free and fair democratic elections are the first step along the path of reform toward a better future for Egypt and the entire region. We simply have no choice today but to reform.

Khairat el-Shatir, vice-president of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, m.khairat@gmail.com

borderpolice
24-11-2005, 11:55 AM
Our aim in seeking to win a limited number of seats in parliament is to create an effective parliamentary bloc that, in conjunction with others, can energise an inclusive debate about the priorities of reform and development. Not a single political, religious, social or cultural group should be excluded from Egypt's political life. The objective must be to end the monopoly of government by a single party and boost popular engagement in political activity.

I'd be interested to hear how the brotherhood plans to include homosexuals, prostitutes, the transgendered and openly promiscous people. I'd also like to know the organsiation's stance on religeous tolerance.

sufi
24-11-2005, 02:24 PM
I'd be interested to hear how the brotherhood plans to include homosexuals, prostitutes, the transgendered and openly promiscous people. I'd also like to know the organsiation's stance on religeous tolerance.mmm, well he say:
"we respect the rights of all religious and political groups"
& er, women's access to rights and to political representation should also be a major issue given that the party is a brotherhood. currently the groups you mention have zero formal rights or tolerance in Egypt, and are generally exist almost totally underground, as far as i know - however Egyptian society is way different from, say, Saudi society, has more in common with a more modern (tho not arab) country like say Iran, the brotherhood are not wahabists, & are historically closer to more tolerant strains of islam.

politically the current junta has no real opposition apart from the ikhwan, so in some ways their main agenda, as the man says, is change & the choice is whether to support them or accept stasis, which is maybe a factor in the low turnout. whether this moderate attitude would persist if the ikhwan actually got into power is another question, but as they are only contesting a small proportion of seats in order to open up the poitical process it is not particularly relevant at this stage.

another modernised arab state with a long history of secular leadership is of course Iraq, where the process of democratisation is taking place following an altogether different route...