RECOMMENDED READING: “Egypt Vote Results Shows Islamists’ Rising Sway”By
The Wall Street Journal has published an articled titled “Egypt Vote Results Shows Islamists’ Rising Sway” which looks at the growing role played by the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the Egyptian revolution. The article begins:
CAIRO—Egyptians’ embrace of a set of proposed constitutional amendments in this weekend’s referendum is the clearest sign yet that leadership of the country’s revolution may be passing from youthful activists to Islamist religious leaders, according to analysts. More than 70 percent of Egyptians vote yes to constitutional reforms in first free referendum in 30 years. Video and image courtesy of Reuters. Electoral officials said 77% of Egyptians voted to accept a set of proposed amendments to Egypt’s constitution that will, among other changes, limit the presidency to two four-year terms and ease restrictions on independent political participation, according to results announced Sunday.The proposed changes were opposed by protest leaders and by presidential front-runners Mohammed El Baradei and Amr Moussa. Both men urged Egyptians to reject the amendments, written by lawyers and judges nominated by Egypt’s military. Protest leaders and opposition politicians instead pushed for an entirely new constitution that would limit expansive presidential powers. The results from Saturday’s referendum signal a shift in Egypt’s continuing revolution: The protest leaders, once celebrated as heroes and martyrs, are no longer the leading voice in Egypt’s transition to democracy. In their place are popular religious leaders, whose strong backing of the amendments held sway. These leaders see approval of the amendments as an avenue to political power and a means of preserving the country’s Islamic identity. With their influence in what appeared to be Egypt’s first free and fair election, these political playmakers show how they are positioned to help define Egypt’s democratic future. The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, a once-illegal Islamist political group, was joined in supporting the amendments by leaders of the Salafi Islamist movement—which follows the ultra-conservative brand of Islam widely practiced in Saudi Arabia—and residual elements of the former ruling National Democratic Party, or NDP. Opponents of the amendments, which included many in the youth movement, said the Muslim Brotherhood allied with the NDP as part of a cynical power grab: The approval of the amendments has set the stage for parliamentary elections this summer, for which only the Brotherhood and the NDP have the organizational structures to compete.
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It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood today has become a global network and that the Egyptian mother branch is not necessarily the most important part of the movement. Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, is often referred to by the GMBDW as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide.