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When it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, even the irreligious evince a sudden interest in what lies within the inner reaches of the Islamists' souls. Are they really democrats? What do they really believe? It is time for analysts to leave those questions to a higher authority. For now, it is much more important to ask what they intend to do and what they could do in office.

If balloting is free in the run-off in mid-June, Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi is the favourite to beat Ahmed Shafiq, President Mubarak's last prime minister. If that happens, Egypt's major democratic institutions, the parliament and the presidency, will be in Islamist hands.…  Seguir leyendo »

The apartment blocks on my street in downtown Cairo have accommodated many cycles of Egypt's political tumult in the past 18 months. A stone's throw from Tahrir Square, they have been enveloped in teargas, pockmarked by Molotov cocktails, pressed into use as urban barricades by both revolutionaries and pro-Mubarak militias, and provided the backdrop for some of the post-Mubarak military generals' most violent assaults on the citizens they swore to protect. They gaze over the gardens of the Egyptian Museum – a regular home for one of the army's pop-up torture and detention centres where those still daring to rally for meaningful change have been brutally acquainted with the realities of a junta-curated "transition" to democratic rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Egyptians prepare for their milestone presidential election this week, thousands of activist youths who spearheaded the revolution -- the very ones who made the election possible -- will not be casting a vote. Instead, they are in prison, facing military trials.

On May 4, more than 350 protesters, including 16 women and 10 children, were arrested near Defense Ministry in the Abbaseya neighborhood of Cairo, adding to the approximately 12,000 political prisoners detained since the Revolution.

The Abbaseya protesters fortunate enough to be released from detention have revealed horrific stories of torture and abuse at the hands of military officers.…  Seguir leyendo »

A few days ago, I watched a debate between Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, two of the leading candidates among the 13 running for president of Egypt. This stunning debate went on for more than four hours and was watched by millions of Egyptians and other Arabs. Contrary to the perception around the world that Egypt is inexorably sinking into chaos and intolerance, this debate in many ways reflects the hope for a new Egypt following last year’s revolution.

From the time of Ramses II, the strong pharaoh who ruled Egypt thousands of years ago, until last year when Hosni Mubarak’s reign ended, Egyptians were never able to witness a debate over who should take over the democratic reins in the highest office of the land.…  Seguir leyendo »

The circus otherwise known as the presidential elections in Egypt is making an anarchist of me. There isn't a single candidate I find either qualified or deserving to lead revolutionary Egypt, and I don't believe the elections will be free or fair – how can they be, under a military junta that has run Egypt since 18 days of revolution forced Hosni Mubarak to step down on 11 February 2011?

Concerned with guaranteeing itself immunity from trial for crimes against the people and protecting its legendary budget from civilian oversight when it hands over power after next month's presidential elections, the junta – according to which conspiracy you believe – is machiavellian in its evil-genius ability to manipulate the public into voting for its preferred candidate, or as confused as everyone else.…  Seguir leyendo »

Like savvy boxers with knockout punches, Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, and the Muslim Brotherhood have circled each other warily since the Arab Spring toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. But after the SCAF-appointed election commission's banning last week of 10 candidates for the May presidential elections, including the Brotherhood's nominee, Khairat Shater, the phase of circumspection may be ending. Egyptians could be in for rougher times.

The SCAF abandoned Mubarak only after it realized that Egyptian protesters would not succumb to intimidation and force. But it feared the popular uprising and believes that its main consequence has been to empower the Brotherhood.…  Seguir leyendo »

"Queremos democracia, pero limitada por las leyes de Dios. Gobernar sin las leyes de Dios es infidelidad", declaró hace poco Yasser Burhami, segunda figura principal de la Sociedad del Llamado Salafista (SLS) y su líder más carismático. El inesperado aumento del voto salafista en las elecciones parlamentarias de Egipto ha generado inquietud de que el país árabe sunita más populoso pueda estar en camino de convertirse en una teocracia fundamentalista similar al Irán chií.

Conocida por su ultraconservadurismo social, su interpretación literal y estricta del Islam, y la potencial exclusión del "otro" ideológico y religioso, la salafista "Coalición por Egipto", también conocida como la Coalición Islámica, ganó un total de 34 escaños en el parlamento elegido para redactar la nueva constitución del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

La celebración de la primera fase de las elecciones legislativas egipcias ha deparado no pocas sorpresas. Aunque se daba por descontado el triunfo del islamista Partido Libertad y Justicia, la irrupción del salafista Al Nur ha generado inquietud no solo entre los sectores liberales y la minoría copta, sino también entre los propios Hermanos Musulmanes que hasta ahora venían detentado en solitario el monopolio del islam político.

Pese a haber mantenido una actitud ambigua en las movilizaciones que propiciaron la caída de Mubarak, las formaciones islamistas han sido las principales beneficiarias como demuestra el hecho de que hayan obtenido dos de cada tres de los votos depositados en las urnas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egyptians are going to the polls to elect a democratic parliament, an experience they have not had for over half a century. This is an extraordinary and exhilarating event.

What's remarkable about it, among other things, is that only a week before the plebiscite began, an on-schedule election was thought to be impossible. The media were predicting that a fair election could not be pulled off and that, if voting did occur, it would be bloody and violent. But Egyptians weren't daunted. They remembered how, 10 months ago when the uprising began, many pundits predicted that Hosni Mubarak's regime was too strong for the revolution to succeed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egyptians lined up this week to vote in the first Parliamentary elections since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. The high turnout in a peaceful, orderly election contrasted sharply with the violence and chaos of the previous week, when hundreds of thousands returned to Tahrir Square after security forces killed at least 42 people and left 3,000 injured. But Washington should not be fooled by the peace that has returned to Egyptian streets. Even successful elections can not erase months of political mismanagement by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (S.C.A.F.) or the bloodshed committed under its auspices.

The U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Egyptian elections have begun despite the many attempts to abort, obstruct or derail them. Millions of voters are electing a parliament to express their will and authority. We are about to accomplish the most important aims of the revolution: the building of a real democratic system, after getting rid of – or almost – the repressive dictatorship.

The military council has so far honoured its pledge to hold elections and protect them. It should continue the process to the end and accept the results, and the rights and powers of parliament. It is impossible for millions of Egyptians to go to the polls and vote for a parliament without authority.…  Seguir leyendo »

Almost a year after the Arab rebellion was set in motion, the curtain is rising on Act Two of the drama that is transforming the region.

In Tunisia, a big step was taken by holding credible elections. In Egypt, elections should start on Monday, but the country lacks the consensus to follow Tunisia in moving smoothly to the next stage.

While Western audiences are gripped by the performance of Islamic parties, in Egypt it is the technical details of constitutional and electoral arrangements that hold the key to how the drama unfolds.

The script of Tunisia’s transition was crafted back in spring when the country’s interim authorities adopted an electoral system.…  Seguir leyendo »

With only days left before Egyptians are to vote in their first elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, thousands of protesters spanning every political ideology, from secular to Islamist, have taken to the streets to pressure the military into relaxing its grip on power.

On Tuesday, the caretaker prime minister and cabinet stepped down, and the military council pledged to transfer power to a civilian government by July 1, 2012, a year earlier than expected. The head of the council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, also said the military would step aside if a national referendum called on it to do so.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al paso que aumenta la preocupación por la agenda que puedan impulsar los Hermanos Musulmanes en Egipto, los dos máximos dirigentes del Partido Libertad y Justicia, Mursi y El Arian, han recalcado que si ganan formarán un gobierno de unidad nacional con otros partidos. Insisten en que el partido "entregaría el poder si perdemos", ya que la opinión pública no tolerará más la dictadura. El Arian prometió que el partido no incorporaría cierta terminología la Constitución para demandar explícitamente que toda la legislación cumpla con la ley islámica, la charia. El artículo 2 de la Constitución ya establece que la "principal fuente de legislación es la jurisprudencia islámica".…  Seguir leyendo »

Egypt, the largest and most important country to overthrow its government during the Arab Spring, is careening toward a disastrous parliamentary election that begins on Nov. 28 and could bring the country to the brink of civil war.

As protesters fill Tahrir Square once again and violence spreads throughout Cairo, the military government’s legitimacy is becoming even more tenuous. The announcement Tuesday of a “National Salvation Government” may stem the violence for now, but the coming vote will not lead to a stable democracy.

The election is likely to fail, not because of vote-stealing or violence, but because the rules cobbled together by Egypt’s military leaders virtually guarantee that the Parliament elected will not reflect the votes of the Egyptian people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egypt, the largest and most important country to overthrow its government during the Arab Spring, is careening toward a disastrous parliamentary election that begins on Nov. 28 and could bring the country to the brink of civil war.

As protesters fill Tahrir Square once again and violence spreads throughout Cairo, the military government’s legitimacy is becoming even more tenuous. The announcement Tuesday of a “National Salvation Government” may stem the violence for now, but the coming vote will not lead to a stable democracy.

The election is likely to fail, not because of vote-stealing or violence, but because the rules cobbled together by Egypt’s military leaders virtually guarantee that the Parliament elected will not reflect the votes of the Egyptian people.…  Seguir leyendo »

In January this year time caught up with Hosni Mubarak. For decades, all visible opposition in Egypt had been blocked. The country's political parties' activities had been curtailed. Professional federations had been disbanded. Labour unions were controlled by regime lackeys. Government departments and universities had their political security controlled by the police. As a result Mubarak's regime was incapable of addressing the challenges faced by the community. Perhaps inevitably, renewed popular forces emerged that swept him away.

However, every regime has a legitimacy. An assault against the regime means an assault against the legitimacy on which it is based. This creates a need for a new legitimacy, responsive to the demands of the new system and its political and social relations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egypt has recently held yet another fraudulent and farcical election. Ballot boxes were stuffed. Votes were bought. People who considered voting for the opposition were subjected to violence by professional thugs. And these transgressions have been well documented by human rights groups.

Democracy must mean more than merely going through the motions.

In theory, Egypt has a constitution and laws that reflect the will of its people. But in reality, the provisions are a hodgepodge that perpetuates the iron grip of the ruling regime. President Hosni Mubarak enjoys imperial powers. There is no legislative oversight of the military budget. No more than five people are permitted to assemble without permission to stage a peaceful demonstration.…  Seguir leyendo »

El compromiso del Gobierno egipcio de ampliar el círculo de la participación política, garantizar la celebración de elecciones libres y transparentes, que los resultados expresen la voluntad de los votantes y, en particular, facilitar la labor de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil para supervisarlas no se ha cumplido. En realidad, se han confirmado las dudas de las fuerzas de la oposición y de las organizaciones de derechos humanos sobre la imparcialidad de las elecciones legislativas celebradas el día 5, lo que genera las dudas lógicas sobre los resultados y su legitimidad: caldo de cultivo para futuras crisis. Así, el Partido Nacional Democrático se medirá en la calle con los grupos radicales al haber vaciado de oposición el nuevo Parlamento.…  Seguir leyendo »