Global media is reporting on what appears to be a narrow victory by the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egyptian president. According to reports, Dr. Mohamed Morsi will face Mubarak’s final prime minister in the runoff election:
After a wild and fluid two-month campaign by more than a dozen candidates, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general who served as President Hosni Mubarak’s final prime minister, emerged with the most votes on Friday, according to independent tallies and the official state news media. Mr. Morsi won about a quarter of the vote and Mr. Shafik slightly less, effectively reprising the power struggle decades old between a military-backed, secular strongman and Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood. At least for the moment, the results appeared to dim the hope that last year’s popular uprising would open a middle path, transcending divisions that kept Egypt paralyzed between fear of religious radicalism and fear of the secular police state. The outcome provoked frantic warnings on Friday of either a counterrevolution should Mr. Shafik win, or an Islamist takeover, should Mr. Morsi emerge as the next president. The candidates who tried to offer a more unifying vision — and were critical of both the Mubarak era and the Brotherhood — failed to overcome the deep divisions in Egyptian society. The result will be a runoff that offers a wrenching choice for the majority of voters who cast their ballots for one of the other candidates. ‘It is a shock,’ said Ahmed Kabany, 38, an engineer, after the voting. ‘I don’t want either one, so I am not going to vote.’ Although Mr. Shafik never explicitly promised to resurrect the old order, he campaigned as a strongman who would crack down on street protests, restore law and order and check the power of the Islamists. He surged in popularity toward the end of the campaign, by playing to voters’ fears of crime and lawlessness, and to the worries of Egypt’s Christian minority about the growing power of the Islamists, who already control Parliament. And he never backed away from comments he made during the uprising against Mr. Mubarak comparing the insurrection to a disrespectful child who slaps his father. Mr. Morsi, facing a serious challenge from an Islamist rival during the campaign, reverted to a conservative and expressly religious appeal, portraying his platform as a distillation of Islam itself while promising to carry out Islamic law. Although both candidates have pledged to support the peace treaty with Israel, the runoff set up a stark choice between the Brotherhood’s vows to unite Palestinian factions in order to increase pressure on Israel to recognize a Palestinian state and Mr. Shafik’s pledges of continuity with positions of the former government. Though official final results are to be released in a few days, early returns show that about 20 percent voted for Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Brotherhood leader campaigning as both an Islamist and as a liberal in an effort to break out of Egypt’s culture war. And another roughly 20 percent voted for Hamdeen Sabahi, a secular populist with a record of fighting the Mubarak government on behalf of the poor. (Fifth place went to Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister who presented a softer and more conciliatory version of Mr. Shafik’s secular law-and-order appeal.)
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The New York time had earlier had earlier published a revealing portrait of Dr. Morsi which begins:
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.
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Earlier posts discussed a recent campaign rally of Dr. Morsi that featured calls for an Islamic Caliphate with its capital in Jerusalem.