Egypt runoffs expose Islamist tensions

2011-12-06 10:13

Cairo - The runoff for Egypt's first-round parliamentary elections has heated up tensions between competing Islamist groups that have so far dominated the vote.

The strife shows the challenges facing the front-runner, the Muslim Brotherhood, after hard-line Islamist parties made a surprisingly strong showing.

The more moderate Brotherhood is now under pressure to reassure both Egyptians and foreign allies that the country is not going down an extremist path and remains committed to democratic transition.

The Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best organised political group, is in the lead so far, with about 37% of the vote, according to partial results released on Sunday.

But the hard-line al-Nour bloc grabbed nearly a quarter of the vote for the ultra-conservative Salafis, who seek to impose strict Islamic law in Egypt.

‘Fierce ideological battle’

The strong Islamist showing came at the expense of liberal activist groups that led the uprising against Hosni Mubarak, toppling a regime long seen as a secular bulwark in the Middle East.

Nabil Abdel-Fattah, a senior researcher at al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, said on Monday that the Islamists are in a "fierce" battle over the same ideological base".

"They both have high financial resources. The Brotherhood have experience and social networks," he said.

The Salafis "have no (political) experience, but are relying on a long history ... of concessions" by the Mubarak regime, which "left them to expand as a way to counter the power of the Muslim Brotherhood".

"This is going to be a very conservative Islamic parliament," he said. "The conflicts will be between that trend and the democratic forces."

Strict Islamic laws

The Salafis espouse a strict interpretation of Islam similar to that of Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are segregated and women must be veiled and are barred from driving.

They speak openly about their aim of turning Egypt into a state where personal freedoms, including freedom of speech, women's dress and art, are constrained by Islamic law.

Reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei warned that the strident positions of some ultra-conservative leaders have sent "shock waves" both inside and outside Egypt.

"I think the Brotherhood in particular, and some of the Salafis, should send quickly messages of assurance both inside the country and outside the country to make sure that society continues to be cohesive, to make sure that investment will come in," ElBaradei said.

Tensions between the Brotherhood and Salafis were simmering on Monday in some runoff districts.

In southern Assiut province, there were scuffles and even allegations of death threats against Brotherhood candidates by supporters of Gamaa Islamiya, a former militant group that is part of the al-Nour bloc.

‘Take your eyes off women’

The province is a stronghold of the group, which fought the Mubarak regime in a bloody insurgency in the 1990s.

Since Mubarak's ouster, hard-line Islamists, many of whom were released from prison, exploited a growing security vacuum in the country and grew increasingly assertive in a push for power.

In Assiut, they wrested control of mosques from government-appointed preachers and installed their own prayer leaders. The city is filled with signs exhorting residents to follow Islamic teachings and women to wear the hijab, or Muslim headscarf.

"The hijab is obligatory," one sign read. "Take your eyes off women," another warned.

Voter Ali Serour, 49, said he voted Monday for the Brotherhood party candidate and a veteran Mubarak official "to balance things out a bit".

He said the Brotherhood "will be much more civil than religious. I think they will work with other parties to get things done".

But the Salafis, he said: "Want to apply every letter of Islamic law. People won't accept that and they'll push them out in a revolution like they did Mubarak."

  • Kobus - 2011-12-06 10:28

    This comes as no suprise at all and we can expect the entire Arab World still to become more extreme.

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 11:00

      @ kobus, MAJORITY LEADS/ RULES MINORITY, from this basic principle of democracy as western countries repeat everyday , why dont you let the muslim and arab people choose their future leaders ,regardless their ideologies , or may be what worries you is that israili terrorists in TEL VIV are under threat....

      Garth - 2011-12-06 11:12

      Pity poor Israel, whom are now left in an extremely tenuous position. Is it not amazing that all islamists see the Israelis as terrorists. Name one incident of Israeli terrorism - not war, not stand up and fight battles where they kick the arabs a$$es, not Mossad counter-intelligence or revenge hits, but cowardly, islamic-like terrorism. Produce a list of Israeli suicide bombers. Methinks the islamists are jealous that Judaism is a true, ancient religion and theirs is a new, contrived one, much like scientology.

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 11:22

      @garth, dont you know that MOSAD is the worst and bloodshed terrorist group in the world ,more than ten times than al qaida, and let me give you lists of their worst assassinations in middle east @

      Kobus - 2011-12-06 11:59

      Caaqil Mahadale, I am not at all concerned about Israel. I know the end :)

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 12:39

      Truth is that end is coming to israil , and their followers wherever they are in the world !?! So be ready for it and save that money that you sending . Bcos god told us what you are ..

      VOVO247 - 2011-12-06 13:23

      @Caaqil Mahadale, you waste your time here. this site is festering with supporters of the west, even though most of them know nothing of the culture they support. It is the west that has brought us greed, murder, molestation, homo's, etc. The reality is that its all brilliant.. for them lol. They live awesome lives.. at the expense of others, & all their supporters here dont even realist that they are just pawns in a far bigger picture...

  • Andre - 2011-12-06 10:39

    From one oppression/depression to another! How dumb can you be?

  • Swapie - 2011-12-06 11:00

    All in the name of religion. How ridiculous.

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 11:12

      What the hell youre talking about ! ,the ridiculous thing is that you jewish and zionist supporters sending billions of rands to that extremist and terrorist occupiers in jerosalam....

      Fred - 2011-12-06 11:56

      @Caaqil Mahadale I assume you are a follower of one of the psychotic death cults that is constantly at war with each other. What is happening in Egypt is symptomatic of the arguments between factions riddled with insane beliefs that turn the stomach of normal people.

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 12:14

      @fred , what i assume is that most jewish and their supporters are notorinus killer, bcos when you send billions of dollars, from all jewish communities around the world ,to that crapy killers im telviv , it means your money kills 10 women and 20 children in palastine !!! So simply, you are killer and thd hell is waiting you -,

      Swapie - 2011-12-06 13:48

      @ Caaqil Mahadale: I said "religion". I did not specify more. As far as I am concerned innocent people die daily because of religion. So live with it.

  • Dawood - 2011-12-06 11:36

    how amazing. the western world is crapping that true democracy,which they advocate(when it suites them),takes hold in the arab world. all their puppets and stooges fall,and they care a damn what happens to these dictators. its only countries who intend creating wars,usurping(stealing)natural resources,gaining power that spend the biggest parts of their budgets on defence. now that their ppl(OWS) start to see the truth,u see that these so called democratic countries do not allow the first amendment of the charter to be exercised. this freedom is more important than the tents they claim to be taking down due to unsatisfactory hygiene to those 99% - cos finally ur eyes have opened. NOTICE TO THE WEST _ U REAP WHAT U SOW. whats funny is that we still have blindfolded ppl in this country that support the adventures and corruption of the west, but are first in line to condemn the ANC in this country - condemn corruption and war wherever it is rife - the caucasian doesnt have rights to these evils. VIVA OWS

      Dawood - 2011-12-06 11:44

      how unfortunate for a racist,apartheid state like israel that is fully and unconditionally supported by the west----they steal land which has no oil under,yet all around the region the lands are flooded with this black gold. this is a divine gift to the original ppl of the lands, and the divine intervener has plans for this evil murdering regime and its supporters(foreign govt.s and the minority of its population).the majority of the jewish ppl seem to be peace loving citizens.war and murder are committed in their name

      Fred - 2011-12-06 11:57

      Geez - your thoughts are so confused you forgot to punctuate. And using FULL CAPS does not make it true.

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 11:58

      Dawood, you are 2oo% right, it will takes a short period to unite and chasing away those mass killers in holy land ,bcos they are afraid now from this upcoming lions..

  • Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 11:42

    Its time of unity and cooperation for all islamists to face their chalenges ahead , bcos people got tired of their traitor and corrupt leaders in islamic world,. Furthermore hamas must be epuiped with atleast 10 nuclear missiles from iran ,so jewish land grapers go back to eorope or to germany..

      Fred - 2011-12-06 12:00

      Wow - the members of the psychotic death cult are revealing their true colours today. Religion of peace is it. Ja, right!

      Kobus - 2011-12-06 12:01

      Please put on your vail and leave the room. Or maybe lift it a change and see the light. Viva Israel!!!!

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-06 12:29

      @kobus ,dont tell me what to do, it seems truth simply hurts you , i am free south african citizen whom his grandparents fought for our freedom of today, while you are jewish settler here in our grandparents land that graped ,so its best for to shut up and enjoy that freedom we consilidated you..!?

      Kobus - 2011-12-06 12:54

      Zec 14:12 And this shall be the plague with which Jehovah will strike all the peoples who have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh shall rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes shall rot in their sockets. And their tongue shall rot in their mouth. Zec 14:13 And it shall be in that day a great panic of Jehovah shall be among them And they shall each one lay hold of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor. Zec 14:14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the nations all around shall be gathered, gold, and silver, and clothing in great abundance. Zec 14:15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, the mule, the camel, and the ass, and of all the beasts which shall be in these tents, like this plague. Zec 14:16 And it shall be, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

      Garth - 2011-12-06 12:59

      Get out from under your Amir's skirts, out of the mosque and into the real world. Read something other than that sheep-herder's delusions and wake up to reality. Oh, by the way, only the perceived to be anti-islamic press use the word islamist (rhymes with alarmist), or so I have heard.

      Swapie - 2011-12-06 13:52

      Oh and by the way, you are not a South African but from Somalia. Got no more ships to capture, Pirate???

  • Dawood - 2011-12-06 12:10

    fred & kobus sense arguing with illiterate fools like u. i dont think u can comprehend what we are saying. as the saying goes-- dom afrikaner & fred flintstone--jokes

      Kobus - 2011-12-06 12:55

      These fools knows more than what you do deadwood. Suggest you get yourself a bible and do some studying. The end is already written thousands of years ago and there are no supprises for us. Only those who will rot in their own flesh whilst standing.

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