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Muslim Brotherhood's Goals Questioned as Candidate Runs for Egyptian Presidency

Khayrat el-Shater (file photo
Khayrat el-Shater (file photo

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate, Khairat el-Shater, submitted his candidacy forms on Thursday, just days after Egyptian clerics said el-Shater pledged to them that he would introduce Sharia, or Islamic law, if he is elected in May.

El-Shater's supporters chanted and cheered as he submitted his formal candidacy documents in Cairo.

But some minority party members in Egypt as well as some outside observers are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood is a step closer to holding a monopoly on power in that country.

Marina Ottaway, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, says the Brotherhood did nothing illegal when it opted to field a candidate, even after it had pledged to not do so.  Still, Ottaway says, it was not the Brotherhood's best move.

"I think it was a very unwise decision because it increased the level of anxiety that exists in Egypt about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood," Ottaway said.  

The Muslim Brotherhood is proving to be a dominant force in Egyptian politics, and it holds almost half the seats in parliament.  It is well-organized, given that the opposition party was banned until after the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year.

Ottaway says she does not see anything sinister in the Brotherhood's decision to put forth a presidential candidate, noting that politicians often change their minds, particularly as political campaigns progress.

"[Hazem] Abu Ismail, who is a Salafi that had presented himself as a candidate, appeared to be getting a lot of support ahead of the election, so that there was some concern that a radical Islamist might end up getting, you know, winning the election," Ottaway said.

As el-Shater submitted his candidacy papers, Islamist political party representatives spoke with researchers, reporters and government officials in Washington.  Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood have held several closed-door meetings with U.S. officials this week and appeared at public events, describing their party as moderate and committed to a multiparty system.

Yet, the Brotherhood reversed its pledge to include a variety of voices in the creation of a new constitution.  Liberal and Christian groups as well as Islamic scholars are withdrawing from the limited  role Islamists offered them.

At a Carnegie Endowment conference, the foreign relations coordinator of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Khaled al-Qazzaz, sought to dispel an audience member's suggestion that Islamists preach democracy until they are in power.  

Qazzaz said the Brotherhood is actively working to ensure that Egypt's political system has all of the checks and balances to prevent tyranny.

"So we're actually trying to do so, and this is the number one reason of why we pushed our presidential candidate -- so that this is our guarantee," Qazzaz said.

Qazzaz said el-Shater strongly supports a parliamentary system.  He said the same could not be said for all of Egypt's other presidential candidates.  

According to Egyptian clerics, el-Shater also supports the quick implementation of Sharia, if elected in May.

The Brotherhood's Qazzaz says people often misunderstand the principles of Islamic law.

"These are not contradictory to universally accepted values like freedom, justice and democracy, rule of law, et cetera.  These are in conformity with Sharia.  They are not against Sharia."

Qazzaz added that Islamic values shape Egypt's identity, just as other religious values shape political and cultural identities in Europe and the United States.

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by: GAALI RASHAEED
April 09, 2012 12:18 AM
Muslim brotherhood iis trying all dirty tricks to seize the power. they are liar,fanatic,. they are keep telling liar tand spread rumers to sieze the power and impose islamic law .as the result the country will be in isolution which cause Egyptian starve to Death

by: Mike
April 08, 2012 8:39 AM
One form of dictatorship is simply replacing another. Voting is not itself democracy, and the Muslim Brotherhood will eventually impose sharia and other expressions of repression. What did you think? The tiger would change its stripes?? Poor Egyptions don't even understand what they are doing.

by: yadid
April 07, 2012 12:02 AM
Hey NY loner:
Is the ongoing butchering in Syria, Sudan, Yemen etc., also a scheming of the zionists and there world domination conspiracies? hmmm....

by: Behrouz
April 06, 2012 9:19 PM
Happy for Egypt. Egyptians can now make their own choices no matter what israel forces America to impose on them.

by: Kool Hand Luke
April 06, 2012 8:20 PM
Unbelievable. We're about to land a rover on Mars in August and they are getting ready for mass executions of artists, iron fist behaviour policing and looking at that mug. C'mon Egyptian people, don't do this to yourselves!!!

by: Brett Gasper
April 06, 2012 7:22 PM
Hopefully, the Muslim Brotherhood will realize their mistakes with HAMAS in Gaza and wont repeat them in Egypt - that means actually governing and ensuring basic rights for all Egyptians... Unfortunately, Shari'a doesn't provide for those rights and Egypt will become another failed state. The US, Israel, the Christians or the Jews (anyone but the Muslim Brotherhood themselves) will be the scapegoat.

by: Jeames Lee Yaw
April 06, 2012 6:55 PM
YES MY BROTHER, GO LET EGYPT BE KNOWN , AS THE LAND OF THE BRAVE AND THE FREE.FREE IN FAITHFUL TO OUR LORD,LORD OF ALL MANKIND.FOR WE ARE MUSLIM,FOR THOSE WHO IS AFRAID OF US.IS AFRAID OF THE LORD AN DO NOT BELIEVE. IN THE PRINCIPLE OF FREEDOM .EGYPT IS MUSLIM

by: meir
April 06, 2012 6:12 PM
the brotherhood if elected will be a dictatorship style organization who will support terrorism. everyone knows that yet the liberal professors in nyc and the students tend to deny it because they believe in "freedom". We cant give freedom to savages, remember the end result will hurt.

by: del
April 06, 2012 6:11 PM
Why is any body surprised this was all predictable from day one , Egypt will now go to a historical abyss like Iran, so really the worst is yes to come!!! Oh yeh!! we also have to be thankful for the naive leadership in this country for encouraging this abysmal disaster. Remember Obama keeping the heat on Mubarak!!!!

by: Jahbulon
April 06, 2012 6:08 PM
Is there a difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and Christian zionists who have turned the US into a de facto theocracy? I haven't heard of holy wars from Turkey since their Muslim Brotherhood came to power. But GWB has waged "crusades" around the world under the cover of democracy for a decade!!! Shipping weapons to Afghanistan with his religious symbols to slaughter innocent "infidels".
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