News

    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Reverses Political Tactics

    In this January 24, 2012 photo, Muslim Brotherhood nominated deputy leader and presidential candidate Khayrat el-Shater speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt.
    In this January 24, 2012 photo, Muslim Brotherhood nominated deputy leader and presidential candidate Khayrat el-Shater speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt.
    Elizabeth Arrott

    The decision by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to field a presidential candidate marks the latest reversal in the group's tactics during the nation's political transition.  Political analysts are split over whether this will help or hurt the Islamist cause.  

    Secular, Christian, and even other Muslim groups have been quick to denounce the candidacy of the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat el-Shater.

    Brotherhood politicians already dominate both houses of parliament, after initially pledging to contest a minority of seats.  The prospect of an executive branch under the group's control raises fears the country ousted an authoritarian government only to replace it with something equally monolithic.

    Political sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo says it is no surprise the Brotherhood went back on its promise to stay out of the race.  

    "The Muslim Brotherhood is like any totalitarian, ideological movement," Sadek said.  "They have objectives.  They have an ideology and tactics, and the tactics are very flexible to changing circumstances."  

    Similarly, the Brotherhood went back on its word on writing a new constitution.  After promising to include a wide array of voices, the drafting committee is dominated by Islamists, with liberal and Christian groups as well as Islamic scholars withdrawing from the very limited role they were offered.

    Al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies scholar Yousry el Ezbawy says the Islamists are likely to do well pushing through their constitutional agenda.

    El Ezbawy says if the Islamists can frame the referendum on the constitution as they did on a similar vote last year, using "Islam is the Solution," sheer numbers in this Muslim majority nation will likely approve it.

    But there are reasons to believe that not everything points to a strict Islamist future.    

    AUC's Sadek argues el Shater is not in the race to win.

    "Those who believe that Khairat el Shater will topple anything, no.  What he will do is to break and fragment the Islamic presidential candidates list.  He will fragment it," said Sadek.

    Sadek points out the Brotherhood is still stinging from the defection of moderate Islamist and former member Abdel Moneim Abou el Fotouh to run in the presidential race.

    It also faces internal rebellion from younger members of the group, and tensions between fundamentalist Salafi politicians and Muslim Brothers run high.

    Having a candidate of their own in the race guarantees Brotherhood members at least some influence in what is shaping up to be a wide-open election and its likely run-off, more than 400 candidates have registered.

    Even if the Islamists were unified, there are other powerful forces at play, most notably the nation's interim military leaders.

    The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is working hard to keep the military's protected status in the next constitution.  It cleared the legal barrier to el Shater's candidacy, his past prison record, another sign that both sides feel confident they can co-exist.

    Even el Shater himself presents a paradox.  Oppressed for his political beliefs by the former government, he was still able to become one of the elite by amassing a fortune in business enterprises.

    According to Sadek, Egyptian voters have become more savvy during the past year, and aware of such nuances.   

    "Many simple-minded people were addicted with catchy slogans: 'Islam is the solution.'  Fine.  Everyone wants a solution to their chronic problems, inflation, unemployment, traffic problems.  So they also wanted to get rid of the secular, the traditional corrupt politician and they wanted those people they believed are the men of God.  Now, they are becoming disillusioned.  They just feel that those people who make such lofty promises of a better world, of an ideal utopia are not that idealistic," Sadek explained.  

    Stories of corrupt Islamists are fodder for the media, with one Salafi member of parliament resigning after lying about his cosmetic surgery.

    Sadek says he believes the various competing forces in Egyptian politics are being seen as just "normal politicians" with their own agendas and calculations, willing to be opportunistic and "speak with two tongues."

    While the future of democracy in Egypt remains unclear, Sadek argues the chance of any one interest group dominating now is slim.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rebecca
    April 07, 2012 3:21 PM
    Glad they used the word 'utopia' - what they call secular - we would call theocracy - you can't leave your Islamic religion - extreme restrictions on Christian, Baha'i worship..

    That's not secular. So with the promise of this Islamic utopia - they are willing to give up even more of their rights - to put their faith in these men of god - to rule their perfect Islamic state without accountability - freedom + individual rights would allow - will end up in dictatorship & counter revolution.

    by: National Service for Egyptian youth is part of the solution
    April 04, 2012 8:03 AM
    The way Egyptian economy is today, its best to give them the seat to Islamic Brotherhood, and see them fail. Once they prove to the world and their supporters they are not the solution. The solution to Egyptian problem is concentration of people in one area, along the river Nile. They need to spread throughout the country, make technology work for them through solar power generation in the desert. Through National Service to tap on the available manpower is the solution for Egypt's economy.

    by: Maye
    April 03, 2012 11:45 PM
    I blieve that Egypt will benefet more , if the the islamic Brotherhood win the comimg election , Becouse they have new ideas which is defrrent from old western democratic sytem which Egyptions already pracices and experianced its result of Economical development , integrity and even thier role of wold power compitition , there fore, I can say let us see Islamic Brotherhoods rule.

    by: nabal el fahid
    April 03, 2012 10:53 PM
    Egypt should be secular gov. religion should not be a part of political activity. Mislim brotherhood is a dictatorship organization which is well known to suppert terrorisim and prosecute christain in the name of allah. Their existing in the gov will have negative impact and the country collapse
    the country which is known egypt is dead

    by: Artan
    April 03, 2012 10:39 PM
    it is very good Deicision the Muslin brotherhoods for their selection of presidentail candidate , Becouse Egypt has experianced the practice of western democratic system , so, let us see Islamic democratic Shura system .

    by: Robert Makoi
    April 03, 2012 8:50 PM
    Muslim brotherhood are part of the broader islam project to prepare for the coming of the ..th imam. Poverty and ignorance are the fertile soil for sowing their agenda.

    by: sania el alma
    April 03, 2012 4:00 PM
    egypt in the verge of economic collapse because muslim brotherhood. They do not believe in democracy and want dominate all poltical to impose their agand.ant western,ant christion ,terrorist sypter.Mr. shater can be another Hitler

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora