News / Middle East

Egypt's Brotherhood Looks Back, Islamist Rivals Look Ahead

FILE - A woman walks past a campaign banner for the Nour party ahead of parliamentary elections, in Cairo,  November 27, 2011.FILE - A woman walks past a campaign banner for the Nour party ahead of parliamentary elections, in Cairo, November 27, 2011.
x
FILE - A woman walks past a campaign banner for the Nour party ahead of parliamentary elections, in Cairo,  November 27, 2011.
FILE - A woman walks past a campaign banner for the Nour party ahead of parliamentary elections, in Cairo, November 27, 2011.
Reuters
While Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood looks back in anger at its military removal from power, an ultra-orthodox Islamist party is looking forward in hope to replacing it in voters' favor.

Yet far from celebrating the downfall of its larger rival, the Nour Party, which sits on the religious right of the political spectrum, is weighing the cost of Brotherhood mistakes it says have weakened the entire Islamist movement.

Courted by the army that toppled president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's second biggest Islamic force has wielded decisive influence over the choice of a new premier, vetoing the first two liberal candidates.

But Nour's leader is surprisingly downbeat for a politician whose main rival has just been dealt such a major blow robbing it of a string of 2012 election victories.

“There is no doubt that the Islamist current in general has lost a lot because of the Brotherhood's failure in managing the past period,” Younes Makhyoun said in an interview.

“I do not think the Islamist movement will achieve what it achieved before because of these erroneous practices,” he told Reuters by telephone.

Islamist groups expect to secure nothing like the 65 percent of the vote they won in parliamentary elections 18 months ago. Under the army's transition plan, new parliamentary polls will be held in about six months' time.

“The Islamists will be reduced to their natural size - no more than 25 to 30 percent,” said Kamal Habib, a former member of a Muslim militant group.

Nour believes the Islamists' popularity, in retreat even before Morsi was elected, has been further dented by the failures of Morsi's one year in office and the bloodshed resulting from its unceremonious termination.

Makhyoun was also sharply critical of the Brotherhood for pushing to the fore hardliners who had used violent rhetoric in recent weeks, saying that had further sapped the appeal of Islamists in Egyptian society.
 
Political newcomer
 
Established after the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, Nour is 84 years the Brotherhood's junior.

It emerged from the Dawa Salafia, a quietist religious movement based in Alexandria - a party stronghold today - that believed in saving souls rather than seeking power. Nour claims 800,000 members, nearly as many as the Brotherhood's membership.

Advocating a puritanical vision of Islam, it used its foothold in officialdom to press for Islamist-inspired changes to the constitution last year. It then lobbied for their application, demanding, for example, that a law allowing Egypt to issue Islamic bonds be sent to Muslim clerics for approval.

Having aligned itself with the Brotherhood at key moments in 2012, it distanced itself from the movement this year, echoing opposition accusations that Morsi was staging a power grab.

As the political crisis deepened this year, Nour positioned itself as a would-be mediator. Its more nimble approach has given it huge leverage over the army-mapped transition that the Brotherhood has vowed to boycott.

Hazem el-Beblawi, the economist named interim prime minister on Tuesday, owes his job to Nour's rejection of other liberal politicians initially suggested for the position.

The army is going out of its way to satisfy Nour as the only Islamist party that signed up to its roadmap, isolating the Brotherhood and giving the new authorities Islamist credentials.

A decree setting the rules for the period of interim rule includes Islamist-tinged language sought by Nour and opposed by liberals.

“We value the Nour party position very much and we see a future for this party in Egypt,” said a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with army rules.

Yet Nour's approach also brings risks. Other Islamist allies say it has sold out - an accusation that may damage its standing, particularly after more than 55 people were shot dead when the army opened fire on pro-Morsi protesters.

The army says it was firing back at terrorists who attacked its troops. The Brotherhood says those killed were praying peacefully.

Responding to rage in Islamist circles over Monday's killings, Nour announced it would withdraw from the army's roadmap. But it still kept one foot in the process. Though Nour says it does not seek any posts in cabinet, spokesman Nader Bakkar said it would offer the cabinet advice.

Assem Abdel Maged, one of the Brotherhood's hardline allies, told a crowd of Morsi supporters that Nour's leaders must seek repentance from God for what he called their betrayal.

Necessity versus choice

Makhyoun described the Nour's decision to cooperate with the army's plans as stemming from necessity rather than choice.

By taking part in the process the Brotherhood is shunning, Nour says it is giving voice to Islamist concerns and has been able to resist a wide expansion of liberal influence in the new, unelected administration.

Nour is trying to revive its mediation effort, though Makhyoun said communicating with the Brotherhood right now was “difficult.” The party has proposed a committee of “wise men” to promote reconciliation and agree on a new transition plan acceptable to all.

But it may struggle to convince its base of the merits of the approach. “The passions are running high in the Islamist movement - the sense that this was a coup against the Islamists - puts the Nour's base under pressure,” said Habib, the analyst.

“They are in a delicate position,” he added.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid