RECOMMENDED READING: “In Egypt, Morsi Escalates Battle Over Islam’s Role”


The New York Times has published a revealing portrait of Mohamed Morsi, the new Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood  candidate for Egyptian President. The article begins:

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK Published: April 23, 2012 CAIRO — He has argued for barring women and non-Muslims from Egypt’s presidency on the basis of Islamic law, or Shariah. He has called for a council of Muslim scholars to advise Parliament. He has a track record of inflammatory statements about Israel, including repeatedly calling its citizens ‘killers and vampires.’ Mr. Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist group, declared last week that his party platform amounted to a distillation of Islam itself. ‘This is the old ‘Islam is the solution’ platform,’ he said, recalling the group’s traditional slogan in his first television interview as a candidate. ‘It has been developed and crystallized so that God could bless society with it.’ At his first rally, he led supporters in a chant: ‘The Koran is our constitution, and Shariah is our guide!’ One month before Egyptians begin voting for their first president after Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Morsi’s record is escalating a campaign battle here over the place of Islam in the new democracies promised by the Arab Spring revolts. Mr. Morsi, who claims to be the only true Islamist in the race, faces his fiercest competition from a more liberal Islamist, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a pioneering leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was expelled from the group in June for arguing for a more pluralistic approach to both Islam and Egypt. He is campaigning now as the leading champion of liberal values in the race. Both face a third front-runner, the former foreign minister Amr Moussa, who argued this week that Egypt cannot afford an ‘experiment’ in Islamic democracy. The winner could set the course for Egypt’s future, overseeing the drafting of a new constitution, settling the status of its current military rulers, and shaping its relations with the West, Israel and its own Christian minority. But as the Islamists step toward power across the region, the most important debate may be the one occurring within their own ranks over the proper agenda and goals. Mr. Morsi’s conservative record and early campaign statements have sharpened the contrast between competing Islamist visions. The Brotherhood, the 84-year-old religious revival group known here for its preaching and charity as well as for its moderate Islamist politics, took a much softer approach in the official platform it released last year. It dropped the ‘Islam is the solution’ slogan, omitted controversial proposals about a religious council or a Muslim president and promised to respect the Camp David accords with Israel. Its parliamentary leaders distanced themselves from the Salafis, ultraconservative Islamists who won a quarter of the seats in Parliament. The Brotherhood’s original nominee was its leading strategist, Khairat el-Shater, a businessman known for his pragmatism. He had close personal ties to Salafi leaders, but he did not leave much of a paper trail besides an opinion column in a Western newspaper stressing the Brotherhood’s commitment to tolerance and democracy. Mr. Shater was disqualified last week because of a past conviction at a Mubarak-era political trial. In his short-lived campaign he stressed the Brotherhood’s plans for economic development and rarely, if ever, brought up Islamic law. By contrast, Mr. Morsi, 60, is campaigning explicitly both as a more conservative Islamist and as a loyal executor of Mr. Shater’s plans. He campaigns with Mr. Shater under a banner with both their faces, fueling critics’ charges that he would be a mere servant of Mr. Shater and the Brotherhood’s executive board.

Read the rest here.

The Egyptian Brotherhood has published a statement attempting to clarify Dr. Morsi’s statements on the “Islam is the Solution” slogan statement that the the official slogan of the campaign is “Rennaissance, the Will of the People” based on the Renaissance Program:

April 23,2012 14:48 IkhwanWeb Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Ati, General Coordinator of the campaign to support Dr. Mohamed Morsi for the presidency, said that the official slogan of the campaign is ‘Renaissance, the Will of the People’, and that the project and the platform presented by Dr. Morsi is the ‘Renaissance Program’. He assured that reports on the use of the slogan ‘Islam is the solution’ are totally unfounded. At the first public rally and press conference, Saturday, officially launching Dr. Morsi’s presidential campaign, he said: ‘When we raised the slogan ‘Islam is the solution’, some used to say it was only a generic slogan with no practical program of action. But today we offer the Renaissance Project as a practical application of the slogan we raised before’.  

A post from April 12 discussed a 2011 lecture given by Khairat Al-Shater, the former Brotherhood Presidential candidate, which reveals the true aim of the Nahda (Renaissance) project to be the full “Islamization” of Egypt as part of a step towards the eventual realization of the Islamic Caliphate.


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