The Muslim Brotherhood… should we fear them?
The question in itself may reflect some sort of danger of the Muslim Brotherhood, but we need to step back and analyze effectively. The recent parliamentary elections have been different this time with a clear attendance by all parties. All candidates present their programs without fearing a potential victory and imprisonment. They proudly march in their demonstrations and openly fill their newspapers with accusations and defiance.
It is for these reasons that we question this new transition, and whether people actually fear the possibility of Muslim Brotherhood rule.
It is evident that there have been great changes to elections over the past four years. The sudden change was not consequent to a sudden consciousness of Arab governments. It came as a result of pressure from Washington on governments in the region as Washington had associated the September 11 attacks to the deteriorating political status of the Arab world. The Washington government stated that the participation of extremists in the political arena would diminish violence and limit the number of covert operations. From my perspective, political participation is a prerequisite to decrease congestion within many spectrums of society by distributing the responsibilities of society effectively; however, political participation is not a definite solution for the violence represented by Jihadist movements.
Today, the Muslim Brotherhood is demonstrating its power and realizing that the world is watching as the government cannot persecute them nor completely rig the elections. The movement is seeking to surpass the ruling government in endorsing democracy and tolerance by presenting a Christian and a woman in its list of candidates. This is despite the fact that the Brotherhood activists clearly declare their disbelief in the tutelage of non-Muslims over Muslims and women’’s rights. However, such actions maybe understood considering an unsuccessful seventy years of trying to gain power. The Muslim Brotherhood used violence, made compromises, had limited participation in public life and established incompatible coalitions, all to no avail.
Presently, the Muslim Brotherhood is telling the Americans (the new sponsors of democracy) that their organization deserves power because they have incorporated Christians and women into their association. However, on the streets of Egypt, their message is quite different as their demonstrations portray. They tell people, but not Washington, "Islam is the only solution," portraying the Muslim candidates in a similar light to the ruling party as ousted infidels.
The future will show us which parliament members will endorse modern Egyptian democracy. The members of the Muslim Brotherhood say that they will gain triple the amount of votes that they had won in the previous elections as this time there are twice as many candidates from their organization than in the elections of 2000.
Back to the question at hand, is an electoral success of fundamentalists something to fear? We must remember, however, that we do not hold complete historical knowledge of this movement’’s participation in public life except throughout short periods.
The Iranian experience should scare any democrat, because fundamentalists of Iran had gained power and deprived their revolutionary colleagues of liberal and socialist thinking of any role in government. Nevertheless, in Turkey, fundamentalists had expressed a good level of pragmatism that transformed them into a civil party that could be dealt with easily. One cannot forget that the fundamentalist party of Turkey was that which insisted upon the reestablishment of political ties with Israel and stressed the importance of cooperation and association with Europe.
Now is the time for the Muslim Brotherhood to refute all claims that it is not capable to govern the state of Egypt.