As Egypt approaches its first post-revolution elections on November 28th, Tahrir Square is on fire again.
Violent clashes erupted as protesters demand the Military Council step down and hand over authority to a civilian body. Feeling the revolution has gone sour, protestors want to see some change.
Arab Spring revolutions have already granted power to Islamists across the Middle East. It made the Muslim Brotherhood the main political force in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Syria. After years of focusing on charity and social work, the Muslim Brotherhood senses that it is the right time to go into politics and is acting accordingly.
Years of experience give the radical Muslim Brotherhood an edge. Access to devoted religious crowds is yet another advantage. But as these are the first free elections in Egypt, no one knows how the Egyptians will behave.
The people's frustration from the slow pace of change in Egypt is the burning fuel, and the Brotherhood only had to light one match to blow everything up. The Brotherhood has been busy overseeing one last effort to convince people to go out and vote. The campaign includes evening prayers, a ready crowd, religious fanatics' chants and marches.
With the military council controlling Egypt, little reform was achieved after the removal of Mubarak. The evident rift between the Military Council and the people of Tahrir Square cannot be ignored. Religious tensions and clashes add to the feeling that the revolution has gone off track.
As protesters clash with the army representing the Military Council, Tahrir Square returns to revolutionary chaos again. In an effort to restore calm before the elections, the cabinet offered its resignation on Monday to Egypt’s transitional military rulers.
Realizing the riots endanger the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood has pulled out of planned demonstrations, saying in a statement that it did not want to be involved in a protest that might delay the elections and thus the transition to democracy. But this may be too little and too late.
The US policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood is highly forgiving. It has recently changed its attitude toward the Islamic group and is also expecting a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood in the upcoming elections. The United States gives $2 billion annually to Egypt in military and economic aid in exchange for its peace treaty with Israel. Will this peace treaty hold once the Muslim Brotherhood is in control?
Free elections require stability and calm. Free elections cannot be held with millions protesting and clashing with military forces.
Egypt needs to rebuild, and to do that it needs a strong secular governing body. Involving religious and political inspirations will only drive Egypt towards Sharia law and chaos.
Sadly, in the first battle between the Military Council and the Islamists, it seems that the army has lost. Egyptians may have free democratic elections. But if they choose the Muslim Brotherhood they will not live in a free democratic state afterward.
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