February 8, 2011
What’s at stake in Egypt
Egyptians would oppose Muslim Brotherhood rule
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“The Brotherhood believes in citizenship rights,” Aboul Fotouh said. “This means that men, women, Muslims and Christians are all equal,” he added.
But the organization’s political manifesto, which does not mention the word equality, sends fear down the spines of Egyptians even more as they see the Brotherhood gaining recognition within the faltering regime of Hosni Mubarak and his newly formed government.
Newly named Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman met with the Brotherhood on Sunday to discuss a way out of the current political stalemate, which has cost Egypt billions of dollars in losses to date.
This despite the fact that diplomatic cables leaked over the weekend reveal Suleiman has long demonized the Brotherhood, according to media reports.
Those who have seen the confident discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood over the past few days predict that a scenario like the Islamic revolution that took over Iran might grip Egypt if Mubarak leaves. They see the Brotherhood as a strong force able to turn the situation in their favor. In a recent interview on ABC, Mubarak himself said that he does not want to resign, out of fear that Egypt should fall in the hands of the Islamists.
In 2005, the Brotherhood won one-fifth of the seats of the Egyptian parliament. However, in the last parliamentary elections, held in Egypt late last year, the group won only one seat, casting doubts about its popularity on Egypt’s streets. Election monitoring groups, however, said the vote had been rigged among almost all constituencies by the National Democratic Party, leaving questions as to the extent of the group’s standing.
Nevertheless, some observers see the Brotherhood as close to reaping the fruits of the current Egyptian revolution. They see the Brotherhood’s ability to offer a political message and lead the action against Mubarak, and expect it will take a strong role in Egypt’s future.
“There’s no reason why the Brotherhood shouldn’t fight to reach power in Mubarak’s absence,” the analyst Hamouda said. “The only solution is for Egyptians to join the demonstrations in large numbers, so that the Brotherhood will be a minority,” he added.
To Abdullah, this is a practical solution. He recalls a Brotherhood legislator who was selective in whom he would help, once elected.
“He didn’t offer any help to other constituents who were not members of the Brotherhood,” he said. “They are a mere group of discriminative beings,” he added.
Abdullah is not a Mubarak admirer. But like millions in this country, he still thinks the octogenarian president’s biggest achievement has been his ability to preserve the peace with Israel over his 30 years of rule.
Egypt has fought four wars against Israel — in 1948, ’56, ’67 and ’73 — and many fear that peace might end if Mubarak is ousted.
In an interview with a foreign journalist a few years ago, former Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef said that if the Brotherhood were to come to power in Egypt, it would put the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979 to a public referendum.
“If the people say ‘yes’ to the treaty, we will abide by it,” Akef said. “If they say ‘no,’ we will have no obligation to abide by it,” he said.
Aboul Fotouh himself says he believes most of Egypt’s political powers oppose the peace with Israel. Despite this, he said the Brotherhood, which has links with the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, will respect international treaties.
“International treaties must be respected,” he said. “They are agreements among countries, not among governments or regimes, and this is why everybody must be committed to them,” he said.
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