Friday, December 02, 2005

More on the Election

After a day of violence in which one activist was killed after police fired on voters, and police blocked voters from polling places where the Muslim Brothers had strong support, it appears that as many as 35 independent candidates moved on to a run-off election against NDP candidates. No Muslim Brotherhood candidates moved on to the run-off round.

The Freedom for Egyptian blog picks up on two important points about the election that are being ignored in most reports. One is the degree to which the Old Guard of the NDP, led by the security side of the government, is turning not just on reformers, but the New Guard of the party, led by Gamal Mubarak.

While the candidates supported by the Old Guard swept to its usual victory, aided by the full resources of the government and the government-controlled media in Egypt, all of Gamal Mubarak's candidates in the NDP. It even seems that the Muslim Brotherhood's gains came completely at the expense of the "reform" wing of the NDP, although reform has to be taken with caution in this sense.

"The fight is ongoing between the old guard, led by the Speaker of the Shura Council and former minister of information, Safwat Al-Sharif, and the new guard. Apparently, Al-Sharif alliance won the battle. The new guard led by Gamal Mubarak is seeking to form a new party to overcome their defeat," Freedom for Egyptians wrote.

The blog also noted that it's to the government's benefit to make the world believe the options in Egypt are limited to the NDP vs Muslim Brotherhood. The belief is it will silence calls for reform, particularly for America, if those reforms are seen as bringing undemocratic Islamists to power. But of course the reality is far more complicated. One is the MB's have the right to full and free access to the political system. The limitation on political liberty and political associations is one of the greatest abuses Amnesty has identified in Egypt. These rights flow to Islamists as well as others.

However, the more important point is that the opposition movement in Egypt is in fact a varied one. It includes women's groups, secularists, academics, lawyers, health professionals, middle class and technology leaders, socialists, communists, liberals, intellectuals, rural leaders and urban social groups. I've always contended that American support for the Egyptian opposition has to include non-violent Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brothers -- they are too powerful to ignore. But the opposite is also true: It makes no sense to think that they constitute the entirety of the groups advocating political freedom. Egyptian society is far too rich and diverse to allow that.

5 Comments:

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Congratulations on your new blog. I saw you were among links linking to one of my posts.

 
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