Thursday, January 26, 2012

In the Spirit of Brotherhood

Check out this article on the West's need to calm down about the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian elections.

Indeed, fear of the aftereffects of the victory of the Muslim Brothers in the Egyptian elections is shortsighted and a tad naive. To begin with, there wasn't a real "opposition" during Mubarak's reign-- except for the well organized, popular, and not-quite-underground Muslim Brotherhood. Considering their organizational skills, it should come as no surprise that once elections were held, the MB did very well as they were one of the few groups that could actually "get out the vote".

I'll allow myself the vanity of making a few predictions:
1. The MB will not Islamize Egypt. They will be moderated (not that they are extreme in any respect) by working with other organizations in parliament. In fact, I have high hopes for their ability to help the Egyptian populace. The following is from the Gallup website:
"The same Gallup surveys that showed Egyptians shifting toward the parties found their opinions largely unchanged in terms of their views on key issues. Egyptians most often mentioned inflation/lack or shortage of money, lack of jobs/unemployment, and safety issues as the most important problem facing their families in multiple surveys through 2011, including in December. Few -- 1% or less -- mentioned moral decay. Further, despite the increase in support for the Salafi party, 95% of Egyptians in the December survey said they have confidence in al-Azhar University, an institution that is openly and historically hostile toward the Salafi movement."

Egyptians are not looking to Islamize Egypt. They want jobs, money, and safety for their families-- just like Americans.

2. Should the MB not deliver results, they will not stay in power. With time, other parties will become more organized, more vocal, and more popular. The MB's victory was a foregone conclusion; the next round of elections will show the true feelings and aspirations of Egyptians.
3. Don't expect a sudden change of policies regarding Israel. Keeping the Sinai demilitarized is in everybody's interest. To suddenly ratchet up the anti-Israeli propaganda wouldn't be a wise move. Expect that to come from the Salafist camp, which gives vent to popular frustration, but is distant enough from the MB to keep their hands relatively clean.

The Muslim Brotherhood is presented with a wonderful opportunity: They can dispel the fears that many in the West have of Islamic organizations and the popularity of Islamists in elections. They have responsibly attained power and they will hopefully responsibly use that power for the good of Egypt and the Middle East and the world.

The ability to define the Arab Spring rests upon their shoulders.

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