Here’s a scary quote in today’s New York Times from Mehdi Akef, a former top official of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, one of that group’s more conservative leaders, on the political strategy of the Brotherhood-founded Freedom and Justice Party:
“Our preliminary platform will be shown through the Freedom and Justice Party. But our full platform will not be disclosed until we are in complete control and take the presidency as well.”
There are lots of Pollyanna when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, those who believe that the organization is a benign, pro-democratic group that wants to model Egypt on the Turkey of Prime Minister Erdogan, whose Islamist AKP runs that country. Leave aside, for a moment, whether Erdogan’s reactionary, populist yet pro-business AKP, which has gone a long way toward destroying Turkey’s secular, nationalist tradition, is a good model for Egypt. In Egypt itself, the Brotherhood is a reactionary force and dangerously so—not for the United States, and not because it is anti-Israel, but because it embodies the worst, religious fundamentalist tendencies of the Egyptian people.
That’s not to say that the Brotherhood isn’t reflecting a true, mass-based popularity among many Egyptians. Whether that support is 10 percent, 20 percent or 50 percent won’t be known until elections are held, though it’s looking more and more like the upcoming parliamentary elections will be unfairly tilted toward the Brothers simply because they’re better organized. But just as Hamas won elections in Palestine, the Brotherhood may be able to cash in on anti-US, anti-Israel, and Islamist sentiment to make a good showing in the election in Egypt. It might be democracy, but it’s a bad omen for Egypt.
In late May, when those who organized the revolt in Tahrir Square came out once again to demonstrate against the military’s heavy hand, the Brotherhood not only failed to take part, but they denounced the protesters. Concerning that rally, as I wrote at the time: “Noticeably absent was the Brotherhood, which denounced the rally. In a statement today, the Muslim Brotherhood asked: “Who are the people angry with now?” In the square itself, one the slogans chanted was: “Where is the Muslim Brotherhood?”