Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Hard to Beat

Islamists in Egypt Seek Change Through Politics -- Jeffrey Fleishman

The secular reformers and twenty-something urbanites at the vanguard of Egypt's Jan. 25 revolution have found themselves eclipsed. They lack experience and grass-roots networks to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious groups that have quietly stoked their passions for this moment. In a sense, Mubarak's obsession with both co-opting and crushing Islamists instilled in them the discipline and organization that now propels their political agendas.
The military council ruling the country has astounded many by permitting Islam a wider role. The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition party, expects a strong showing in September's parliamentary elections. In Egypt's first taste of true democracy, the Brotherhood and more fundamentalist Salafist organizations told followers that it was their religious duty to vote to approve a referendum on constitutional amendments that benefited Islamists by speeding up elections. One of Egypt's leading ultraconservative sheiks, Mohamed Hussein Yacoub, influenced by Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi strain of Islam, was quoted as saying after the referendum had passed: "That's it. The country is ours." (Los Angeles Times)

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