Muslim Brotherhood Rising in Egypt
I thought that Egypt's well-organized Islamists might try to take over the January 25 Revolution, though I expected them to do so more violently if Egypt's government fell and chaos ensued:
If the protests bring down the Egyptian government, the Islamists will almost certainly take control.The government didn't entirely fall since the military took control and promised democracy, but I then noted that Charles Kupchan was warning Westerners not to expect Western democracy to result from the Arab revolutions sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. Now, Michael Slackman reports from Cairo for the New York Times that an "Islamist Group Is [the] Rising Force in a New Egypt" (March 24, 2011). He means the Muslim Brotherhood, of course:
In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.What happened to the secular youth with their laptops, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts who were pushing for freedom and democracy?
It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force -- at least not at the moment.As one might have expected, those secular leaders were a minority:
"We are all worried," said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. "The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone."The International Crisis Group thinks that the military struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood to control the direction of the revolutionary movement because the Brotherhood is so well-organized and can easily order 100,000 people off the streets. Be that as it may, the Brotherhood is certainly aiming for power:
The question at the time [of the January 25 Revolution] was whether the Brotherhood would move to take charge with its superior organizational structure. It now appears that it has . . . . When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.The Christian minority is naturally worried, especially over the recent referendum, which called for speeding up the election process:
"Freedom is nice; so is democracy," said Rifaat Abdul Massih, 39, a construction worker. "But I'm a Christian, and we are a bit worried about the future. I voted 'no' to give more time to the secular parties. I don't want to have the Muslim Brotherhood here right away."And the Christians -- whether Coptic or other denominations -- probably don't want the Brotherhood there after a while, either.