Islamist Shakeup in Egyptian Presidential Election

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The Salafists, while still allied with the FJP, find themselves in disarray as a result of their charismatic leader’s ousting from the presidential race. Many members of the Nour party plan to stay at home on election day, while others complain that they are being marginalized by the Muslim Brotherhood. Still others want the movement to give up on politics and concentrate on reforming society so that it reflects fundamentalist Muslim tenets. There have been several resignations from the Nour party in recent months reflecting these feelings.

That’s why the Nour party backing of Fotouh is more a tactical move than related to any particular stand on the issues by the former Brotherhood member. Nour, as any political party, wants to back a winner and Fotouh is emerging as one of  the favorites among the 13 remaining candidates for the presidency. While the FJP candidate, Mohammed Mursi, won the endorsement of the ultra-conservative clerical association, the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reforms, the Nour party leadership went with Fotouh as a hedge against what they see as the growing dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood — an organization they see as too eager to acquire political power.

Fotouh is being described as a “progressive,” or a “liberal” by most news organizations. And in Egyptian society, one might say that this was accurate, although he would be an ultra-conservative candidate — even in some Arab countries. His claim to “moderation” arises partly from the fact that he was kicked out of the Muslim Brotherhood for announcing his intention to run for the presidency of Egypt. At the time, the Brotherhood had forsworn fielding a candidate for that office, a decision that was reversed only recently.

But Fotouh has some other moderate credentials that appeal to liberals and secularists. His main disagreement with the Muslim Brotherhood centers on his belief that the Brotherhood should not have entered the political fray. Fotouh told al-Jazeera that he was “against the Muslim Brotherhood’s participation in party politics.” Further,

The Brotherhood should not become a political party nor should it have a political party. Because its founder, Hassan al-Banna, founded the Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamic social welfare movement which raises awareness of Islam without competing for government…. It is wrong to mix this missionary and awareness-raising work with party politics[.]

In addition to this, Fotouh has appealed to the liberal parties with his talk of a pluralistic, diverse approach to government. “His vision for Egypt is a civic state on an Islamic basis,” reports al-Jazeera:

A civilian state according to Islamic thought must have a constitution written by the people which defines the roles and responsibilities of all authoritative bodies. You can call this a modern state, a civilian state, a democratic state…. Islam does not discriminate based on gender, religion, color and the new constitution must not either. The appointment of people to office or other government jobs must be based on merit and capability and not gender or religion or even political inclination.

To Western ears, Fotouh’s words are incomprehensible. Islam does not discriminate based on gender? Or religion? This would come as news to the hundreds of millions of Muslim women denied even basic protections under Islamic law, as well as Coptic Christians in Egypt who have seen their churches burned, their clergy murdered, and their religious practices legally barred by Islamic clerics.

Perhaps that’s how the liberals and more secular elements of Egyptian politics see Islam. But even many of the moderate parties don’t entirely trust Fotouh which is why some of them are backing the candidacy of former Mubarak foreign minister and head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.

Fotouh’s path to “moderation” is a strange one. In the 1970s, he was a revolutionary Islamist who believed that violence was permissible in order to establish an Islamic state. He was a member of a violent cell, al-Gamaat al-Islamiyah, but has since renounced his participation in that group and condemned its members for their intolerance and “intellectual terrorism.”

According to a BBC profile, he claims that contact with the Muslim Brotherhood “moderated his views.”

His campaign program is moderate in tone. According to the BBC:

His plans include establishing a minimum standard income, restoring security within 100 days of taking office, re-equipping the Egyptian military from sources not funded by the United States and appointing a young vice-president, aged under 45.

He also wants to establish an anti-discrimination body that would represent religious and ethnic minorities in employment and education. Despite writing in the Washington Post the West should not fear the rise of Islamism in Egypt, he has brushed aside questions about the peace treaty with Israel, saying, “It was being given excessive attention and that the future of Egypt did not depend on it.”

The military would probably accept Fotouh if he were elected, given his standing  as someone independent of the Muslim Brotherhood. But that doesn’t mean he would be any more “moderate” than any other Islamist whose stated goal of destroying Israel remains unchanged.

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  • truebearing

    Not to worry….it's spring for the Egyptians, where a young man's thoughts go to killing the infidel or having sex with a corpse.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      I wonder, all those mummies, it will be quite a spectacle, all graveyards must be on the lookout.
      I wonder if this gives new meaning to the phrase "go pound sand"…………….William

  • Anamah

    This is the freedom the Google's guy was trying to reach in Egypt as he was talking of democratic revolution when the W.H., all the revolutionaries, and the Socialist where pushing to make "The Arab Spring" in Egypt? Women and democratic people in Egypt are now satisfied with the dark night they are calling over them and their children future? That young man who was crying so emotionally then …is happy now?

  • dougjmiller

    No matter how complicated the dance and no matter how many different songs are played, when the music stops the radical Islamics will control the dance floor. And our master of ceremonies, Barrack Obama, will have assisted the Muslim Brotherhood take over of Egypt. Obama is helping those Islamic extremists seize power in Egypt. It isn't just America that Obama is ruining. He is a clear and present danger to civilization.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    If this writer readily admitted the truth instead of kowtowing to the tyranny of the Left, that Islam is the problem and not alleged Muslim extremists, i.e., Islamists or radical Muslims, then we wouldn't have to suffer through ridiculous brain damage every time we read one his articles.

    However, because he continues to kowtow to the tyranny of the Left by adhering to the Left's false PC multicultural paradigm that says Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists, i.e., radical Muslims or Islamists, he continues to pretend instead that Islam isn't the problem and that the extent of the problem is due to alleged Muslim extremists, i.e., Islamists or radical Muslims.

    Nonetheless, these alleged Muslim extremists that he misportrays as Islamists or radical Muslims are in reality mainstream orthodox Muslims. Not to mention that his alleged moderates are absent and missing in action and to the extent that they do exists, they are not really Muslims at all, but instead blasphemous apostates that per the dictates of mainstream orthodox Islam must be executed, which is why they remain silenced.

    Of course, if this writer readily admitted the truth in his writings as opposed to the fiction that the extent of the problem is caused by Muslim extremists, i.e., Islamists or radical Muslims, because Islam is really a Religion of Peace™, he'd also have to acknowledge the reality that mass Muslim immigration to the West under the idiotic and extremely naïve assumption that Islam is a peaceful religion and that the preponderance of Muslims in the world are so-called moderates as opposed to extremists, is actually extremely suicidal, and he can't do that because such an admission at least publicly would probably destroy his writing career, as he would be labeled a right wing extremists.

    Hence, we are all doomed to endure his brain damage forever because this writer obviously doesn't possess the cojones to stand up to the tyranny of the Left. Moreover, if the case is he really does believe that the extent of the problem is due to Muslim extremists, i.e., Islamists or radical Muslims, as opposed to Islam, then it means that this writer is mentally incompetent and totally unqualified to report on the Islamic world.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      He should also know that if it is true they are extremist and not mainstream it begs the
      question why does the mainstream not go after them with a vengance, disgracing their
      religion and all of Islam that detests and condemns terrorists. As they do not take offense
      and remain silent except for the occasional parade and candy festival spontaneous to some
      extremely viscious atroscity we can deduce they, all Muslims/Islamists are in on the war
      against every non-Muslim/Islamist.

  • Youssef

    Members of the Egyptian parliament responded to the uproar caused by Egyptian and Arab media reports about a new law that would allow a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours after her death and denied existence of any such draft.

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