Jun 29 2011
Egypt’s pro-democracy activists feel their grip slipping. Don’t say we didn’t warn you this would happen.
LA TIMES – The pressing concern among independents and secularists is that the Brotherhood, the nation’s largest and best-organized party, may win about 25% of the seats in parliament and control even more through a coalition. This could give the organization the power to infuse the new constitution with conservative Islamic ideals to limit rights for women and non-Muslims.
Sensing the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak is slipping from their grasp, activists and opposition groups are pressuring the ruling military council to postpone Egypt’s elections in September amid fears that Islamists and members of the former regime will gain too much power.
The attempt by fledgling political parties to win more time to organize coincides with a renewed push to draft a new constitution before the parliamentary elections so that no political bloc, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, will have unchecked influence to set the laws of the land.
“The Brotherhood is tyrannical in its opinions and views, and I think they will take the side of the Islamist businessmen who fund it and have strict Islamic ideologies,” said Khalid Sayed, a member of the Jan. 25 Youth Coalition. “Whatever constitution they might form would not fulfill the demands of Egyptians for civil rights and democracy.”
The revolution that toppled Mubarak in February is an unfinished battle among secularists, clerics, the old political guard and emerging players with pretty phrases and little experience. The country that inspired the Arab world with a whirlwind 18-day revolt is in the midst of a messy drama to reinvent itself after nearly 30 years of repressive rule.
Activists and liberals argue on talk shows for keeping the revolution vigorous and pure. But the sound of unity that once echoed through Tahrir Square has splintered into a discordant mix of power plays and self-interests. With its chances of winning a large swath of parliament, the once-banned Brotherhood quickly attacked proposals to set new parameters for elections and the constitution.
“Egyptians sympathize with the Brotherhood not only because of the group’s use of religious slogans, but also because it’s a self-financed organization whose members stand in contrast to their competitors,” political analyst Amr Chobaki wrote in the newspaper Al Masry al Youm. “Unless Egypt can produce a civilian political current born out of domestic political, economic and cultural concerns, the Brotherhood will continue to be the chief political power in Egypt.”