The Brotherhood in Egypt is the root of Al Qaeda. Their rise in Egyptian politics is very troubling for Egyptian Christians as well as Christians throughout the Middle East .
Although secular parties forced opening of Egyptian system, Gains go to Muslim Brotherhood in elections
By Daniel Williams
CAIRO On traffic-jammed
A few blocks away at a television studio, Essam Erian, a top official of the Muslim Brotherhood who himself has been imprisoned several times, smiled broadly as he held a series of interviews about the electoral success of his movement.
The contrast underscored a stunning shift in Egyptian politics. The Tomorrow Party and other legal, secular opposition groups were all but wiped out in the electiontogether, they won no more than 10 seats. Candidates running as independents but representing the Muslim Brotherhood, which is formally banned from politics, won 88 seats and became the leading voice of dissent against President Hosni Mubaraks quarter-century rule.
Still-partial results show that Mubaraks National Democratic Party scooped up 314 seats in the 454-seat assembly, 90 fewer than in elections five years ago but still more than the two-thirds majority needed to pass constitutional changes. Throughout the three rounds of the election, police and mobs organized by the ruling party tried to scare voters away from the polls, and human rights groups complained of vote-buying and ballot box-stuffing.
For all that, analysts and politicians say, the vote exposed the weakness of secular parties that had hoped to benefit from the limited opening of Egypt s politics during the past year. Most of the most democratic forces lost with only a handful of votes. They became yesterdays people. They fought to open the system, but it was the Muslim Brotherhood that benefited, said Mohammed Sayed Said, an analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. The old, official party system is dead, Erian said. The failure of secular parties and the success of the Brotherhood present a dilemma for the Bush administration, which has pressed Mubarak to grant rights of free speech and association and to stop arresting opposition activists.
The secular oppositions political stands covered a spectrum from rabidly anti-American Trotskyites to free-market liberals like Nour, but all favored reforms in keeping with Washington s desire for Western-style democracy to take hold in Egypt .
Democracy activists in a group called Kifaya, which means enough in Arabic, campaigned for free speech in the streets of Cairo . In the end, the benefits were harvested by the well-organized Brotherhood, which has long espoused the pre-eminence of Islamic law in public life and whose history is linked with opposition for regimes across the Middle East . In the end, only the Brotherhood had national reach. Only it could cash in on the new openness, Said said.
The case of Nour reveals the obstacles that opposition parties faced on the road to the ballot box. The government wants to eliminate people like Ayman so they can offer Egyptians only two choices: the NDP or the Brotherhood, said Gamila Ismael, Nours wife. It is the choice of extremes.
Members of the ruling party put a positive spin on the outcome. Mohammed Kamal, a reformer in the party, said the Brotherhood must now show its true face. They are integrated into the system, and this is a positive step in dealing with political Islam, he said. Is it scary? Although secular parties forced opening of Egyptian system, Gains go to Muslim Brotherhood in elections