What's it mean that an Islamist rules Egypt?
Egypt's President Morsi moved to consolidate his power this weekend. Here's what Morsi and the new Islamist politicians in Tunisia and Libya want to do.
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Some Salafi legislators called for lowering the marriage age and repealing a law making it easier for women to divorce.Skip to next paragraph
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The Muslim Brotherhood, the 84-year-old force behind Egypt's leading political party, has not said whether it will support Nour's proposal. With the FJP winning nearly half the seats in parliament and a Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi winning the presidency by a thin margin, it holds much sway over Egypt's direction.
Brotherhood leaders say they prefer a gradual, bottom-up approach to increasing the role of Islam. But during the presidential campaign, Mr. Morsi repeatedly vowed to implement sharia. And back when it was just an opposition group, the Brotherhood said women and Christians should not be able to be president, and called for a council of clerics to decide whether legislation conforms to sharia – similar to Nour's proposal.
FJP leaders have repeatedly denied that they would ban alcohol or bikinis, which could harm Egypt's tourism industry, or take other drastic actions. But over time, they hope to bring laws and regulations more in line with their views.
Morsi has not pushed any religious agenda in his first month in office. Locked in a power struggle with the military and facing political polarization and a struggling economy, he has more pressing matters at hand.
Still, secular-minded Egyptians worry he will eventually turn back to the Brotherhood's interpretation of sharia.
Despite Libya's conservative Muslim leanings, voters handed victory in July's elections to the National Forces Coalition, which stressed problem-solving over ideology and rejected both secular and Islamist labels. Its Islamist rivals trailed in second place.
That doesn't mean Libyans want Western-style secularism. Most consider it natural that religion inform lawmaking. The question is not whether to apply Islam in governance, but how.
Marwa Hegaggi, a young doctor who ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for a Tripoli suburb, wants Islam to have a role in government but distrusts Islamists. "We're talking about tolerant sharia," she says. "They're talking about sharia, but coming from a radical angle."
Last year, Ms. Hegaggi worked in clandestine field clinics treating injured protesters. This year, she joined the centrist Accord Party to push for youth involvement in politics. She wants laws and a new constitution based solely on Islamic principles, but adapted to the modern state. "Courts wouldn't be religious," she says. "A judge wouldn't have the Quran on his desk."
The Islamists may have lost voters by seeming to harp on piety, which many Libyans saw as an attempt to lecture them on their own faith, says Salah Ngab, a medical student in Tripoli and writer on Islam and Libyan society.
Polemics of any kind carry a whiff of former leader Muammar Qaddafi, Mr. Ngab says. "[The Islamists'] discourse was ideological, and Libyans are sick and tired of ideology," he says.
He is part of what he says is a small minority in Libya who, although sincere Muslims, want religion kept out of politics.
"When you say, 'Islam,' you have to ask which Islam," he says. "The state would have to choose one interpretation over others. It's another form of dictatorship."