Those people who hope for an Islamic democracy should remember the words of the Tunisian intellectual Raja Benslama, who in 2007 wrote: "We can not consider these muftis, those activists, those Islamic intellectuals democratic unless we think of a special type of democracy [...] a democracy without democracy, something perverse and hateful as the Muslim propaganda about human rights. "

The biggest danger is that the West, which has whitewashed the Muslim Brotherhood as a model of "moderate" Islam, might, comparing it to the Salafis, become more and more convinced that the Brotherhood actually is "moderate." As seen in their alliance in the recent Egyptian elections, however, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are just two sides of the same coin, two different ways of introducing themselves and Sharia law into society before gaining power. Their aim is the same: The Islamic State.

Even though people assumed that democratic elections in Egypt would result in a landslide victory for the Muslim Brotherhood, no one could have imagined that the Muslim Brotherhood, which earned approximately 40% of vote, would be closely followed by Salafis, the hard core of Islamic extremism, with an unthinkable 20%. In other words the winner is the Muslim Brotherhood's Party Freedom and Justice (Hizb al-hurriyya wa-al-'adala), within a coalition called the National Democratic Alliance for Egypt (al-Tahaluf al-dimuqrati min ajl al-masr), followed by Salafi al-Nur Party, which left the Democratic Alliance to join the Islamic Alliance.

It is true that this result is just the first step in the very complicated machine of the Egyptian electoral system, and that the final results will come only next January 13th, but a change is something we can no longer even dream of. The first round of elections last November 28 and 29, took place in Cairo, Alexandria and seven other districts. This means that the first results are those from the main urban areas: the richest, most educated, and presumably closer to secular values. So the next rounds can only make the situation worse.

A contest between the two Islamic parties is not likely. Emad 'Abd al-Ghafur, the leader of the Salafi al-Nur Party, declared that the success of his party and that of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, indicates "the failure of the policy of terror against the Islamic currents, exerted by the previous regime and other political trends in the last ten months." He added that his departure from the Democratic Alliance had been caused by disagreements with the liberal elements, not with the Brotherhood, and that his party "is going to cooperate with the Muslim Brotherhood."

The Muslim Brotherhood, for their part, have posted a statement on their website, Ikhwan Online, saying that the elections have shown that "the Egyptian people are able to protect and build their own state in a legal way; that the wind has begun to blow in a new direction; that the revolution is achieving its objectives; and that Egyptians are mature and can kick out the political agony that remains of the old regime." The Egyptian people may have chased out a dictator, but they have not gotten rid of their past. In the 2005 elections, the Muslim Brotherhood -- at that time officially banned – put up "independent" candidates and were still able to obtain 88, or 20%, of the seats in Parliament.

Al-Gharur, the leader of the Salafi al-Nur party, is right when he says that Mubarak failed, but not because he created the ghost of an Islamist party in order to stay in power. One of Mubarak's mistakes was tolerating any presence of the banned Muslim Brotherhood to enable their participation "incognito" in the 2005 elections. It was also a mistake to ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters was just a few steps from al-Tahrir Square, and to allow the pro-government publishing house, Dar al-Shoruk, to distribute all the works of the main theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf Qaradawi, even though he was not allowed to set foot in Egypt.

Mubarak's biggest mistake, howeverm consisted of neglecting the education of the new generation. He did nothing to avoid the overcrowded classrooms in the public schools that, especially in rural areas, led the young people to be taught in the shadow of mosques run by Islamic extremists. It would be foolish to forget that one of the fundamental pillars of the Muslim Brotherhood's strategy since 1928, the year of its founding by Hasan al-Banna, has been education.

Also contributing to the election results was the disorganization of the liberal and secular elements of Egyptian society compared to the Brotherhood's perfect machine, strength and solidarity

The real surprise were the Salafis. They are the result of what the Egyptian intellectual Tarek Heggy likes to call "the sandy wind that blows on Egypt from the Saudi desert." Although the Salafi al-Nur Party, for instance, reluctantly agreed to have women candidates, not only were they never portrayed in campaign posters, but their pictures were replaced by those of their husbands. Ahmad 'Umran, a Salafi candidate, declared that, "The Copts should not forget that we were the ones who freed them from the hands of the Romans, and that jizya [a tax imposed on all non-Muslims, who are considered second-class citizens] is only half a dinar, which is taken from the rich and given to their poor." This came during the Friday sermon at the Mosque of the Court in the city center of Abnub.

Father Rafiq Greiche, a spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, seems confident that in the next round, the Islamic advance could be curbed. "The radical Islamists have not won at all," he said. "This is only the first stage of the elections. We must wait for the results of the other two phases, which will take place in December and January. It is not true that from tomorrow all Egypt will become radical Muslim." He believes that in the meantime, Liberals can create organizations that are more effective, and that next January the victory of the Islamic parties will not be overwhelming. But to the writer Gamal al-Ghitani, this is just a wishful thinking. "Egypt will enter its darkest period if the Muslim Brotherhood conquers the Parliament," he said. "As long as they are the majority, it will be the worst time ever."

© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Related Topics:  Egypt
Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.


Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.