News / Middle East

Analysis: Egypt's Brotherhood Needs Allies

Egyptian woman casts her vote during the second round of parliamentary run-off elections, Cairo, Dec. 2011.
Egyptian woman casts her vote during the second round of parliamentary run-off elections, Cairo, Dec. 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

A leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says the group's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is committed to working with others across the political spectrum, even as it appears poised to assume an outright majority in parliament. But some question whether the pledge of pluralism is sincere or simply an attempt to spread responsibility for leading Egypt through troubled times.

There are two consistent and seemingly contradictory arguments made by the front-running party in Egypt's elections. First, that the Muslim Brotherhood will embrace everyone as it seeks to solve the nation's problems. And second, that the answer to those problems can be found in their slogan: "Islam is the solution."

The group's ideology is based on the premise that Islam is central to everything from family life to national government. But the group is trying its best to remedy concerns that premise might carry for Egypt's Christians, secularists, and others should the Brotherhood win an outright majority after this week's third phase of voting.

Essam el Erian, deputy head of FJP, says the party won't deviate from the its stated commitment to democracy, even at the expense of other Islamists, including the ultra-conservative Salafis.

"We are not in a confrontation with any group, but still we stick to our democratic alliance with more than 10 parties representing all political factions in the country," he says. "The Salafists are respected because they have about 80 seats until now and they can have more in the third phase. So we respect the choice of the people, but we are not going to change our alliance."

It's an uneasy alliance at best, given that FJP leaders, despite talk of inclusiveness, reject the idea of a woman or a Coptic Christian as president.

But the Brotherhood has a long history of being practical: They built a massive following doing good works while being officially banned by the old government. And while they were not the driving force behind last year's uprising, they have embraced its results.  

More than anything, says Erian, the FJP's agenda is now based on national unity, not ideology.

"We are keen that the national solidarity which appeared on the revolution continues to build the country," he says. "So we are eager that all political blocs in the parliament work together according to a special agenda which puts the utmost priority on the people of Egypt prior to any political agenda."

Some observers believe that position speaks to another aspect of pragmatism. Egyptians have seen few concrete benefits since the revolution, and expectations are high that the new parliament can bring real change.

Fahmy Howeidi, a columnist with the Shorouk newspaper, believes FJP may be trying to provide itself cover if progress is slow.

"They think that they cannot carry this responsibility alone, and without the assistance of the other groups, which are either liberals or secularists, they cannot move," says Howeidi. "So all of them, they can carry the responsibility. And they used to say there is no group. A single group can carry the responsibility in the coming future."

Perhaps the biggest challenge in the near term will be just how much authority any of the parties will be able to exert. For the most part, the Brotherhood has stood by Egypt's interim military leaders even as other elements have taken to the streets to call for them to step down.

But cracks began to appear in recent months, especially over the writing of the new constitution. The military council had promised to leave that to a parliamentary committee but is now advocating a special advisory group that would let the generals have more say.

It's a fight that is expected to come to a head in the next few weeks, as the newly elected lower house of parliament convenes January 23.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid