Muslim Brotherhood Shifts Egyptian Politics
Although the numbers aren’t yet final, it is clear that the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (mb) has made significant inroads in Egyptian politics. So far the Brotherhood has captured at least 75 seats in parliament, a more than five-fold increase over its previous position. An additional 30 seats are up for grabs in a run-off election later this week.
There are two ways to view the success of the Brotherhood.
Egypt’s parliament is comprised of 454 seats, of which the Brotherhood will only have somewhere between 72 and 102. Despite the impressive gains, the Islamic party will be outnumbered by the very definite majority of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party. Some could argue that as long as Mubarak controls the nation, the mb will never play a significant role in Egyptian politics.
On the other hand, the political success of this long-established Islamic group can be perceived as a sign of a fundamental shift in Egyptian politics. The Brotherhood’s rising popularity indicates many things—among them, a growing affinity for Islamic leadership and law in Egypt, and mounting disdain for the government of President Mubarak.
Banned from government in 1954, the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization of staunch Islamic conservatives, with a strong desire to see Islamic law become the foundation of the Egyptian government. “The Muslim Brotherhood’s platform is based on a vague call for the implementation of Islamic law in the Arab world’s largest nation. It advocates the veil for women and campaigns against perceived immorality in the media …” (Boston Globe, November 27). In the run-up to the elections, the Brotherhood’s campaign motto was “Islam is the solution.”
Thus the Brotherhood’s rising popularity unmistakably signals the growing desire for an Islamic government in Egypt—especially when one factors in the widespread reports of governmental strong-arm tactics to enfeeble the group’s showing in the vote.
Seen from this standpoint, the success of the Muslim Brotherhood is profound. “Considering that the mb won almost half of the seats it is contesting, despite reportedly widespread voting irregularities, indicates the group is emerging as the single largest grassroots movement in the country” (Stratfor, November 22). From this point forward, the mb will be at the vanguard of opposition to the current National Democratic Party.
There’s little doubt that President Mubarak is aware that the rise of the mb could be the catalyst for his descent. Last week, in the days before the third round of the elections, hundreds of supporters, campaign organizers and candidates of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested and jailed. On the day of the elections, riot police were deployed at some polling stations and were instructed to restrict the number of mb supporters who were allowed to vote. Reuters reported that “The Brotherhood said the authorities had robbed them of 13 or 14 wins by denying their supporters access to the polls on Thursday” ( December 4).
As support for the mb in Egypt grows, President Mubarak isn’t the only one concerned. The United States is also in a quandary. America, for some time now, has been imploring President Mubarak’s government to weaken its grip on the electoral process and foster more democratic elections. Mubarak listened and reduced his control over the Egyptian electoral process.
The results of that move are clear. Democracy has facilitated the rise of the outlawed Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood to become the largest and most powerful opposition party in Egypt. The Egyptian people are speaking, and Islamic law and leadership appears to be what many increasingly desire.
As America struggles to curb the rise of fundamentalist Islamic powers throughout the Middle East, the rising popularity of the conservative Islamic party in Egypt will become one more thorn in its side. The mb has already made it clear it will gladly align with Islamic governments in the region against U.S. influence.
The Washington Times recently wrote that the Muslim Brotherhood “has affiliates in many Arab states. The Islamic state that the Egyptian Brotherhood would like to establish would be significantly more hostile to Washington than the current Egyptian government. …
“The Brotherhood also represents an anti-American political stance which is particularly popular in Egypt right now. Egyptians are overwhelmingly opposed to the war in Iraq and have long been angered by what they perceive as unqualified U.S. support for Israel” (December 3).
It’s ironic that it is the flowering of democracy enabling the rise of a conservative and anti-American political movement in Egypt.
The time is coming when the mb could gain control of Egypt. This is apparently what a growing number of Egyptians want. President Mubarak is growing older (he’s in his 70s), and his health is ailing.
In fact, the cards are falling in favor of militant Islamic forces throughout the Middle East. The Palestinians have Gaza. The U.S. is losing its battle for Iraq to Tehran; Iranian influence over Iraq grows by the day. Iranian influence is stretching across the Middle East. Al Qaeda has it sights set on removing the pro-Western governments in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Can we not see that Islam is rising in the Middle East?
In this context, the mb’s political success should alarm America and the West. The “moderate” Mubarak government is one of the last American-friendly regimes in the Middle East, and now it is on the rocks.
As the mb grows more popular, it will strengthen its ties with Islamic powers throughout the region—especially Iran. Egypt is one of the largest and most influential nations in the Middle East. As Mubarak’s health weakens and the Egyptian populace increasingly votes in favor of the mb, watch for Cairo to disassociate itself from America. Should the mb ever take control, there is no doubt that a strong alliance between Iran and Egypt will be built.
Such an alliance would prove deadly for American ambitions in the region. Together, Iran and Egypt would establish Islamic control over the whole of the region.
Certainly, as discontent with the political system in Egypt increases, we can expect to see the Islamists grow in popularity. A change of leadership will occur—and probably sooner rather than later.
The Trumpet’s editor in chief has been predicting for almost a decade that Egypt will fall under the influence of Islamists. In his booklet The King of the South, Gerald Flurry stated, “Daniel 11:42 implies that Egypt will be allied with the king of the south, or Iran. This prophecy indicates that there would be a far-reaching change in Egyptian politics!”
This change is probably closer than most people realize.