Egypt´s Muslim Brotherhood chooses presidential candidate (LA TIMES) By Jeffrey Fleishman CAIRO, EGYPT 04/01/12)
LOS ANGELES TIMES
LOS ANGELES TIMES Articles-Index-Top
The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls the parliament, picks Khairat
Shater, who was jailed for years under former President Hosni Mubarak.
CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood chose a religiously conservative
businessman as its presidential candidate Saturday, a provocative
move expected to upset liberals and deepen the ruling military´s
suspicion over the growing political power of Islamists in Egypt.
Khairat Shater, who was jailed for years under former President Hosni
Mubarak, was selected after weeks of debate over whether the
organization should field a candidate in the May election. The
Brotherhood, which controls the parliament, had long promised not to
run a contender to allay public fear that Islamists would dominate
But sensing a chance to consolidate its power after 84 years as the
country´s most oppressed opposition group, the Brotherhood reversed
course and put forward Shater, the group´s deputy leader. Because of
the Brotherhood´s grass-roots popularity, the decision may well mean
that in less than two months he could replace the man who tormented
The decision came amid a widening internal rift and the concern of
many members, especially the young, that the Brotherhood was
jeopardizing its credibility by breaking its promise at the risk of
alienating non-Muslims and liberals.
The organization´s leaders met last week with the nation´s ruling
military council, but it was uncertain whether the generals approved
of Shater. The two sides had been cooperating, but tension between
them has deepened as the Brotherhood´s Freedom and Justice Party has
become more adamant against an army maneuvering to protect its
authority before the election.
Shater´s nomination symbolizes the change in political fortunes that
have defined the nation since the fall of Mubarak. A husky man with a
graying beard, Shater, a multimillionaire, helped finance the
Brotherhood by running his businesses from a prison cell. He has
emerged as the group´s most solid, if uncharismatic, personality.
The rise of the Islamists — led by the Brotherhood and including
ultraconservative Salafis — has alarmed liberals and Christians. The
Brotherhood controls the panel drafting Egypt´s new constitution,
which secularists and human rights groups fear will be more firmly
rooted in sharia, or Islamic law. Liberal members of parliament have
boycotted the panel.
The question is, how will the military, which has promised to hand
power to a civilian government in June, regard Shater?
"The Brotherhood has a long history of striking deals with government
authorities," said Ammar Ali Hassan, director of the Middle East
Center for Strategic Studies. "A deal with the military is now
likely. The Brotherhood and the military have differences in long-
term strategy, but on current tactics both sides are using the other.
There could be an agreement on Shater.
"If there is no deal, however, this means the Brotherhood is throwing
down its last card and launching an open conflict with the army."
Shater´s nomination reflects the growing fissures within the
Brotherhood. The group has long had ideological divisions over mixing
its religious and political ambitions but it appears much less
cohesive under its newfound power. Many members complain that the
group´s old guard is too restrictive on its members even as it
promises to lead the country toward democracy
The Brotherhood´s leadership is worried that its disgruntled ranks
may support other top Islamic candidates, including Abdel Moneim
Aboul Fotouh, a former Brotherhood member, and Hazem Salah abu
Ismail, an ultraconservative with a populist flair. Amro Hassan of
The Times´ Cairo bureau contributed to this report. (Copyright © 2012
Los Angeles Times 04/01/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY