Challenging Egypt´s Muslim Brotherhood from the inside (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Zvi Bar´el 04/06/12)
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One cannot help but be impressed by the buildup to the election in
Egypt, which for the first time in 60 years is experiencing
uncertainty. Suddenly, the stability which determined who the next
president of Egypt will be left the Egyptian citizen with one of two
possibilities: vote for the incumbent or stay at home in protest.
No more. Now Egypt is awash with candidates, posters on walls and
polls, pictures of would-be presidents filling the city plazas, and
most of all, the absence of the feeling that there is only one
leading and familiar candidate, freeing the voter from the burden of
making a choice.
Every week has its rising star. In the early days of the revolution
it was Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei who grabbed headlines as a possible
Mubarak replacement. After him came Amr Mussa, the former Secretary
General of the Arab League, who tried to promote himself with a
program to advance Egyptian technological and academic learning. A
long list of names followed.
Omar Suliman, who headed Egypt´s intelligence service, flip-flopped
between announcing his candidacy, retracting it, and announcing it
again. A process that came to an end on Wednesday, when he announced
that he wouldn’t be able to overcome the difficulties he is facing
and therefore he will not be throwing his hat into the race.
These difficulties are mostly related to the fact that being
associated with the Mubarak regime, the supporters of the revolution
that ousted Mubarak cannot support his head security of security.
Suliman was also offended by Mussa’s statement that it was the
Egyptian military that was pushing for Suliman’s presidential drive
as a counterbalance to Khairat al-Shate, the Muslim Brotherhood´s
nominee. Mussa’s opponents take care to remind him that he was
appointed foreign minister by Mubarak, who also pushed for his
election as Secretary General of the Arab League.
Mussa prefers to present himself as an independent liberal,
unsupported by the military and in opposition to the Muslim
Brotherhood, who “everyone knows” made a deal with army.
But the Muslim Brotherhood candidate al-Shate has his work cut out
for him. He is opposed from the religious camp by Hazem Salah Abu
Ismail, a religious leader, senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood,
lawyer and former Member of Parliament, who in the past few months
has been promoting a radical religious agenda, which includes the
strict implementation of Islamic law, the banning of “promiscuous
beach tourism,” the banning of alcohol and the rehabilitation of the
religious school system.
Abu Ismail is no small challenge for the Muslim Brotherhood, who are
running a public relations campaign in the United States, meeting
with senior officials in the administration and with members of the
American business community, and whose leaders are releasing
statements assuring the world that they intend to keep to the Camp
David agreements and to their supporters presenting a strong
opposition to the military council.
On the other hand, they must appeal to their public and explain where
exactly their religious agenda is hiding. The result is that al-Shate
announced this week that he intendeds to establish an organization
dedicated to the supervision of morality, not a morality police per
se, rather an administration dedicated supervising the implementation
of Islamic Sharia law.
But it seems that the Muslim Brotherhoods heavy ammunition against
Abu Ismail lay elsewhere. “Somebody” posted rumors on the web that
his mother holds a American passport and that his sister lives in the
Suddenly, the anti-American crusading religious leader is exposed as
a son of an American. The hit to his prestige is significant but more
so is the Egyptian law stating that an Egyptian president must be a
son of two Egyptians, which means his mother’s passport bars him from
running. Abu Ismail is waging a battle for his political life and the
court, which is still waiting on his mother’s documentation, will
have to rule on whether he can run or whether he must leave the stage
clear for the Muslim Brotherhood.
But in the meanwhile, he is everyone’s hero: causing both the Muslim
Brotherhood and the liberals to shudder as they sit on the sidelines,
watching as a scandal that was supposed to discredit him simply
making him more popular.
And if that is not enough, reports have surfaced this week about the
vast sums of money his election campaign has amassed. “Where did he
get 11 million Egyptian Liras to run his campaign,” Egyptians asked
on Facebook. One could also wonder who is behind the campaign to
It is doubtful whether Abu Ismail will become Egypt’s next president,
even if his mother is found sufficiently Egyptian. But uncertainty is
a central aspect of these elections making them for the first time
real elections. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/06/12)
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