Freedom and Justice Party

Muslim Brotherhood shocks Egypt with presidential run

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 The Muslim Brotherhood‘s presidential nominee Khairat el-Shater is seen here in a Jan. 24, 2012 file photo. By Ayman Mohyeldin
NEWS ANALYSIS– CAIRO Few events have captured the attention of the global media like Egypt’s revolution. Culminating, like an earthquake, with the departure of Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011, the world was transfixed.

Since then, Egypt has gone through a series of political aftershocks. From the rise of Islam-centered ultra-conservative political parties to deadly street riots and the missteps of the country’s ruling generals, Egypt’s transition (or intransigence) has been the subject of intense speculation and analysis.Nothing, though, has piqued interest as much as the move by the Muslim Brotherhood to nominate a candidate for the country’s presidency.

Political U-turn

Things have come to full boil in the past few days. And what has emerged, according to analysts and commentators, is a rupture in trust between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian people. To say the Brotherhood has lost its base of support is inaccurate, but Egyptians across the political spectrum feel a sense of disappointment to come face to face with the duplicity of politics – common the world over and now seen and practiced openly in Egypt.

The culmination of this mood came on Saturday, when the Brotherhood, long a socio-charitable and religious organization, announced that it was nominating one of its own for Egypt’s top job, a move that sent shock waves through the nascent political establishment.

Why the shock? Well, for the past year, the Muslim Brotherhood has categorically denied it would field a presidential candidate and repeatedly has tried to assuage fears that it was seeking control of Egyptian political life.The signs, though, were there. Shortly after Mubarak’s ouster, the Brotherhood embarked on a process of “translating” its popular social support into mainstream politics. To do so, it launched a political party, called the Freedom and Justice Party, ostensibly aimed at putting a political face on a traditional image.

At the time,the Brotherhood was, at least in public, keen on showing that it was just a part of the quilt that makes up the Egyptian political fabric; it did not want to be too much in the background while at the same time it did not want to appear to be the quilt-maker.That image was crushed on Saturday, according to analysts and commentators, who say the move has exposed the movement’s true aspirations.

Notably, the decision to nominate a president didn’t happen at the Freedom and Justice Party’s headquarters – it took place at the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters. In addition, the announcement that Khairat el Shater was their presidential candidate was not made by the head of the political party (although he was present) but by the Brotherhood’s leader, Dr. Mohammed el Badie.Fueling fears

The decision by the Muslim Brotherhood to seek control of the executive branch highlights a potentially dangerous political reality that has many worried in Egypt.Already with control of the parliament and as the majority in the constitutional convention tasked with writing a new constitution, the Brotherhood is ubiquitous in Egypt’s political life. Add the presidency and they would control virtually the whole political system.

Critics say such a move would allow the Brotherhood to steamroll its conservative agenda across Egypt. They compare the monopolization of power by a single party to the Mubarak-era rule of the National Democratic Party, which also controlled all three branches of government and thousands of local councils.Proponents say the democratic consolidation of power will allow the Brotherhood to implement change at a time when political fragmentation threatens to paralyze a country in transition. They say that with a single cohesive voice in control, Egypt could take the hard decisions needed to bring about speedy reform. Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt – A Voter’s Lament

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Egypt‘s ruling generals may claim the ballot has been a success, but the revolutionaries of Tahrir Square know different.

BY MOHAMED EL DAHSHAN NOVEMBER 29, 2011

Egypt’s elections weren’t supposed to be this way.

Our first “post-revolution” (sigh…) elections were supposed to be free. The overwhelmingly young people who led the January and February uprising would lead the nation into a future of freedom and justice, a nation for all its citizens, equal before the law. People would work together to eradicate corruption, poverty, sexual harassment, discrimination, petty crime — traffic, even. The sky seemed to be the limit. Today is the Icarian crash landing.

I wasn’t supposed to hear a candidate talk about “courting the Christian lobby’s vote” or some acquaintances talk about voting for the Muslim Brotherhood because they want someone “who can stand up to the Christians who want to take over the country.”

These elections weren’t supposed to occur as we suffer under the military boot — one that even the most committed revolutionaries among us have no clear idea how to remove. One that has handpicked a 78-year old former Mubarak-era prime minister who, as I write, is reported to be mulling the re-appointment of a number of ministers who were in office when the January 25th revolution began.

They shouldn’t be taking place as families bury children who died over the course of the past week, when clashes with the army-backed police forces killed over 40 and injured more than 1,000 protesters who have demanded the end of the military rule and an immediate transfer of power to a civilian government. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sisters of the Brotherhood – An FP Slideshow

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Portraits of the women inside Egypt‘s most powerful political movement.

CAPTIONS BY MATILDE GATTONI | NOVEMBER 17, 2011

Amr (center), 28, plays with the youngest of her three siblings in a friend’s house in New Cairo. A graduate from the School of Law in Cairo, she doesn’t work in order to spend time with her children, because, she explains, “I believe my role as a mother is much more important than my job.”  Amr joined the Muslim Brotherhood eight years ago, after getting married. She is adamant in saying that — contrary to the beliefs of outsiders — the organization is extremely democratic. “We are consulted for every big decision,” she says. “Evan if I’m at home, there will be always someone from the organization coming to ask my point of view on the main topics.”

The Brotherhood, which was founded by the Egyptian schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928, is perhaps the most prominent Islamic revival movement in the world today. In Egypt, the movement was violently suppressed under President Gamal Abdel Nasser and banned but tolerated under President Hosni Mubarak, who used fear of an Islamic bogeyman to ensure Western support for his regime. Read the rest of this entry »