Saturday, December 03, 2011

Elections in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood has long been a debated part of Egyptian society. Formed in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organization that has involved itself socially, politically, and religiously in Egypt. Since its founding, the Muslim Brotherhood has strove for the adoption of Islamic law in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood was forbidden as early as 1948 under the rule of Prime Minister Nokrashi. They were subject to crackdowns by the government and regarded as a terrorist organization multiple times throughout their history. Chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood have also begun in many different countries. There are also off-shots of the Brotherhood which are regarded as terrorist groups today including HAMAS, al-Jihad, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). However, after the ousting of Mubarak in 2011 the Muslim Brotherhood became legal and formed the Freedom and Justice political party to run for elections.

The rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood has been much less fundamentalist than in the past. Instead of calling for a strict adherence to Islamic law, they have encouraged utilizing the overall principles. However, in reality, the Muslim Brotherhood has been quite evasive in discussions of the degree to which Islamic law should be a part of the new Egyptian political system. There has been skepticism to how much the underlying goals of the Muslim Brotherhood have moderated. Some who are apprehensive about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to political leadership in Egypt question the sincerity of the Brotherhood’s claims.

Criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood has also come from other Islamist parties. The Salafis is a group of political parties running against the Muslim Brotherhood. Known for their strong, strict Islamist ideology, the Salafis have come out against the Muslim Brotherhood. They have stated that using the main principles of Islamic law is not acceptable. They believe that Egypt should be run according to their strict interpretation of Islamic law. Although many Egyptian citizens view their ideology as extreme, in the first round of elections they have been able to get approximately 25% of the vote. This is alleged to be due to the fact that not only do the Salafis have some people who support their ideas, but also the Salafis candidates are seen as being authentic and having integrity.

The first round of elections leads to an important question for the future of the Egypt. Although the Muslim Brotherhood has had a past of strict Islamic rhetoric, in political campaigns they have depicted a more moderate position. While the devotion of the Muslim Brotherhood to their new position, the rising popularity of the Salafis poses an even greater threat. The election of strictly Islamist political leadership could lead to problems geopolitically. This is likely to cause concern for relations with Israel, the United States, and Europe.

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