Friday, December 2, 2011

Islamist Parties Make Strong Showing in First Egyptian Balloting of Post-Mubarak Era

Free Elections Egypt by Tom Janssen of Holland
In what could be described as the least-surprising development since the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, candidates affiliated with the formerly outlawed Muslim Brotherhood have fared well in the first round of balloting since 83 year old Hosni Mubarak stepped down after protracted protests and demonstrators clashing with riot police in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt earlier this year.

The exact margin of victory wasn't made clear because of a higher-than-expected turnout which some estimates put at 62%.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party was projected to have won at least 40% of the vote, according to unofficial results leaked by election judges. That number indicates that the group, whose religious rigor and social programs bolstered it for decades against a repressive police state, is emerging as Egypt's most potent political force.

The unofficial results were from nine of the nation's 27 governorates, including Cairo and Alexandria, the two most populous cities.
The strong showing by both the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice party and the ultra-orthodox salafist Al Nour party are of concern to moderates, Coptic Christians and secularists who want Islam's role in the soon-to-be-revised Egyptian constitution limited.

Members of the secular and pro-democracy Egyptian Bloc had in fact urged the interim ruling military junta to postpone elections because their campaigns weren't as well organized as the Muslim Brotherhood's. Salafist figures such as parliamentary candidate Abdel Monem Shahat have made it clear that they think very little of civil liberties, saying that Democracy is not permitted in Islam.

Egypt's Coptic Christian community- about 10% of the Egyptian population- would have the most to lose under an Islamist government in Cairo. Even before Mubarak stepped down, there was a deadly bombing attack on a Coptic Church in Alexandria to start off the year 2011. Over the past several decades, Copts have been subjected to sparodic attacks by Islamists.

Although outlawed as a political party under Hosni Mubarak's 30 year reign, candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood often ran for office as independents, winning as much as 20% of the seats in parliment as recently as 2005.

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