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22. The reality behind the Brotherhood

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Article title: 
22. The reality behind the brotherhood
Publishers: 
Year: 
2011
Week: 
11
Article number: 
22
Article pages: 
6
Date of source: 
March 15, 2011
Author: 
'Īhāb Sha'rāwī
Reviewer: 
Toon Bijnens
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Article summary: 

The recent revolution has led to many new parties being formed and established parties being reorganized, including several Islamist groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the group expected to dominate future Egyptian politics. They are now trying to cast off their image of being radicals.

Other moderate parties have been formed as well, such as Hizb al-Wasat al-Jadīd (New Center Party) and al-Karāmah (Dignity Party). However, the future role of all these parties remains unclear.

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Many experts see that the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate the new Egyptian political landscape. As the largest, most popular and most effective opposition group in Egypt, they will undoubtedly seek a role in creating a new government, but the consequences of this are uncertain.

In the meantime, the Brotherhood leaders keep on denying they have any intention to seize power, arguing that they only will be part of the scene, not all of it. Different Brotherhood spokesmen stress that they will not be running a candidate in the presidential elections, while 'Īslām al-Shātir, a Brotherhood leader recently released from prison, says that the group will not seek more than one-third of the seats in Parliament.

The Brotherhood are now trying to cast off the image that was given them by the ex-regime of being a radical Islamic movement, with many Western and other foreign powers now seeking immediate interaction with them for the first time. Among those who put the Brotherhood on their agenda during recent visits to Egypt were the Turkish President and the Norwegian Foreign Minister. According to the latter, Jonas Gahr Store, the West has made a mistake in avoiding opening dialogue with all parties and using a double standards policy when talking about democracy.

Egypt also has other opposition groups which are not starting from scratch, but after decades of repression under Mubarāk, the country does not have much of a foundation to build on, according to US officials. “There is a civil society in Egypt,” says State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, “but it has suffered from decades of restrictions. They do have an opposition, but it's not yet organized”.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first suggested the US might give aid tot he Egyptian opposition groups.

The January 25 revolution has led many political activists and interested parties in Egypt to believe that greater political participation is required and will be possible. An unprecedented desire to form political parties has been building on that perspective. Many are in the process of being formed or registered, with a few already declared.
Weeks after the toppling of Mubarak, the Brotherhood announced the formation of their first public political party. Another Islamist group, but one that defines itself as more moderate, is Ḥizb al-Wasaṭ al-Jadīd (The New Centre) that has been attempting for the past 15 years to register itself as a party. A few days after the revolution, el-Wasat had been granted a license by a Cairo court, giving hope to other consistently rejected parties, such as the pan-Arabist al-Karāmah (Dignity) Party. Ḥizb al-Wasaṭ al-Jadīd was founded in 1996 by Abul Ella Maadi, who played a significant role in forming its chief ideology. El-Wasat stands out from other Islamist groups for its views, such as its not opposing the idea of having a Christian head of state in a predominantly Muslim society.

Some other well-established parties are now trying to reorganize and make a comeback in the Egyptian street. There have also been several attempts by the young revolutionaries to establish their own party. But such things will take time, which makes it necessary to postpone the parliamentary elections, according to those opposition leaders who see that a fast election may bring back the same faces from the old system.

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