Be careful what you wish for. Things can always get worse.
The worst fear of some of us is coming true. The formerly banned radical Islamic group, Muslim Brotherhood, has risen to the forefront of post-uprising Egypt and is forging a partnership with the military.
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is not just an Egyptian group, but a pan or transnational Islamic movement. It is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states, as well as the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political group. Described as the “world’s most influential Islamist movement,” the Brotherhood’s slogan is the theocratic “Islam is the solution”
So much for those starry-eyed expectations of post-Mubarak Egypt becoming a democratic and secular republic.
H/t Fellowship co-founder Steve.
An excerpt from Michael Slackman’s report in the New York Times, “Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt,” March 24, 2011:
CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes. It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it. “There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”
There is a battle consuming Egypt about the direction of its revolution, and the military council that is now running the country is sending contradictory signals. On Wednesday, the council endorsed a plan to outlaw demonstrations and sit-ins. Then, a few hours later, the public prosecutor announced that the former interior minister and other security officials would be charged in the killings of hundreds during the protests.
Egyptians are searching for signs of clarity in such declarations, hoping to discern the direction of a state led by a secretive military council brought to power by a revolution based on demands for democracy, rule of law and an end to corruption. “We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is also regarded warily by some religious Egyptians, who see it as an elitist, secret society. These suspicions have created potential opportunities for other parties. About six groups from the ultraconservative Salafist school of Islam have also emerged in the era after President Hosni Mubarak’s removal, as well as a party called Al Wassat, intended as a more liberal alternative to the Brotherhood….
But in these early stages, there is growing evidence of the Brotherhood’s rise and the overpowering force of Islam. When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.
But the most obvious and consequential example was the recent referendum on the amendments, in the nation’s first post-Mubarak balloting. The amendments essentially call for speeding up the election process so that parliamentary contests can be held before September, followed soon after by a presidential race. That expedited calendar is seen as giving an advantage to the Brotherhood and to the remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which have established national networks. The next Parliament will oversee drafting a new constitution.
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