Egypt elections: After court ruling, the real concern is not the Muslim Brotherhood
Having upended the democratic transition with a ruling to dissolve parliament, the high court underscores the real concern in Egypt elections for president. Voters should not fear Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, but Ahmed Shafiq, a throwback to the past.
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To put it bluntly, though, no one knows how the Muslim Brotherhood would rule because it has long been bottled-up by the former regime of Hosni Mubarak. And so, critics suppose and ponder and predict and imagine the worst without any evidence of what will actually occur.Skip to next paragraph
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The current Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is far removed from politico-religious groups that support violent jihad. Despite the fact that they believe in the fusion of religion and state and interpret their faith doctrines with more conservatism than Western onlookers may prefer, the Brotherhood has campaigned on bread and butter issues: education, poverty, corruption, economic growth, and jobs.
Their messages have resonated and their campaigns have been far-reaching and effective. At this late moment, they have been the more democratic of the two parties competing for the presidency.
The Brotherhood says it recognizes the need to alternate power and the importance and necessity of popular sovereignty and of judicial independence. They vow not to impose bans on alcohol or bikinis, knowing that the economy of their beloved country depends on tourists who value such things. They also know, as any political group must, that in order to win and remain in power, some of their ideals and preferences will have to be sacrificed.
The Muslim Brotherhood wants – and needs – to gain international legitimacy, particularly from the West, which views the group with great concern. And to make that happen, they’ll have to work hard to avoid the hot-button issues that are likely to agitate already existing tensions at home and abroad. Zealous impulses will likely be subsumed in overwhelming calls for peace,freedom, and democracy – platitudes of the revolution that birthed this historic presidential election.
Shafiq, on the other hand, refuses to accept responsibility for the abuses of the former government. He emphasizes the restoration of law and order but has run a campaign that operates on fear. He warns that the Muslim Brotherhood will bring about an Iranian-style revolutionary guard, and as a result, says Islamists should be shut out of power. He defends the Egyptian military despite the fact that it has continued to abuse its position since Mubarak’s fall.
It is little surprise, then, that his military colleagues would seek to tip the election in his favor just days before Egyptians head to the polls.
Egypt’s attempt at transition to democracy has been messy for sure. It has even been downright loathsome at times. But Egyptians must not be cowed into voting for Shafiq.
While a future under the Brotherhood is filled with uncertainty, that is what democratic elections are all about. Better, then, to vote for Morsi and have uncertainty about the future, than for Shafiq and to know what severe system of governance lies in wait.
Nathan Lean is the editor-in-chief of AslanMedia.com and a contributing writer on national politics and global affairs at PolicyMic. He is the co-author of “Iran, Israel, and the United States” and the author of "The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims." Follow him on Twitter.