Muslim Brotherhood domination of parliament would not have been anticipated by anyone in the first days of the Egyptian Revolution – including the members of the guidance council themselves. The zeal with which they operated their electoral campaigns has been slowly
degenerating from positive mass campaigning to negative campaigns. This said, “negative campaign” was evident in the religious bullying of society alongside Salafi groups (who have a love-hate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood). These campaigns have been going on for a long time and to be fair they should have been anticipated by all.
The fate of this new Muslim Brotherhood dominated parliament is very unclear. The Brotherhood is weighing all its potential battles and trying to preemptively strike the movements that pose the biggest threat to their legitimacy. From the period after the constitutional referendum and before the elections, they diverted from its very
moderate political stances and took a more religiously conservative and dogmatic tone. This was more of a tactical than an ideological move. With the emergence of the Salafis on the political stage and the political organization of Revolutionary Islamist Youth (most of which were Ex-Muslim Brothers), they needed to assert themselves as the
mainstream religious group once and for all. The Salafis, in their attempt to break into politics, also made their voices more moderate and so the Muslim Brotherhood dragged them into a competition of dogmas. This meant that the new Salafi parties would have to take the exact same stances as the Muslim Brotherhood on every issue except compete with them. This meant two things for the Muslim Brotherhood: firstly, they are the Islamic mainstream and secondly, the Salafis can be bullied into being the Ikhwan echo. Said echo is very beneficial since they control almost all the religious TV channels – which are
generously subsidized by Saudi Arabia- and they have the scholars ready to make any political policy into a fatwa. This also reinforces all the policies that are outlined by the Muslim Brotherhood since it’s seen as a consensus of more than one political faction.
The second threat to the Muslim Brotherhood is the Islamist Revolutionary Youth entering politics. They are generally more of a threat to the Muslim Brotherhood in the long run than the Salafis (or any secular faction) for a variety of reasons:
Firstly, they have a large support base within the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Secondly, they are a conscious alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood and they don’t rely on Machiavellian techniques. Thirdly, the manner in which they operate and rally people is textbook Ikhwan. This is where the old tactics seem to manifest themselves. The Freedom
and Justice Party attempted to make an alliance with liberal and left wing forces within the Coalition of Youth Revolutions by which they’d run in their coalition and would have ‘guaranteed victory’ in exchange of breaking the alliance with the Islamist Youth. The leftists were boycotting the elections to begin with and the liberals refused. The
attempt to isolate the Islamist Youth from the other Revolutionary youth forces failed and so the next step was to run a smear campaign against individual members in the media. The traditional elite secular forces were helpful with this, especially in the smear campaign
against Islam Lotfy.
The elections came at a very traumatic time for the Egyptians. With images that seriously put the Brotherhood’s realpolitik into public scrutiny. The army’s very violent crackdown split Egyptian society radically into two camps; either in complete and almost surreal denial of what the army’s actions or saying the protesters had it coming or society losing all faith in the military institution as a whole. The Muslim Brotherhood lies in between those two camps, seemingly unsure of their stance at first. The complete silence of the Brotherhood about the famous girl in the abaya was criticized by people as an overt acceptance and agreement to this. So Salafis in politics also felt the need to compete with the Brotherhood to assert themselves and so unfortunately a lot of prominent Salafi sheikhs and politicians (with the exception of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail as always) even
insinuated that the girl was somehow impure and so she deserved it. The poor tortured Ikhwan image had been transformed in the eyes public as a very realist void of any morals movement. The Friday of the 23/12 the brotherhood called to join the pro military protests officially. This was a shock to all.
Finally, the latest method of playing old politics is their legal targeting of the Revolutionary Socialists. I don’t believe that the Muslim Brotherhood understands the difference between the contemporary Revolutionary Socialists and the Left Wing elements they interacted with in the past. A prominent member is suing the Revolutionary Socialists for inciting violence via twitter. This is scandalous in activist circles since this covertly means that the Muslim Brotherhood – the new parliament – is calling on the SCAF to arrest all the socialists under this pretext. This move was taken as a battle on two
fronts; firstly, to get back in favor with the SCAF by letting them get rid of the loudest and most Revolutionary faction. Lastly, to give a cliché image to Revolutionaries as godless left-wingers (people will fall for it) and this will breakdown the structure of the inter-ideology Revolutionary coordinating and also take a little of the heat off them for being silent during a massacre. They believe that by targeting the left they would react with very strong anti Islamist sentiments which will be used later in the smear campaign.
What they fail to understand is that (even within their own ranks) the Islamist Leftist coordination is quite strong and that encouraging inter-ideology fighting won’t be that easy.
The Muslim Brotherhood may have gained a large majority in the parliament, but when even the upper circles of leadership are starting to fight publicly, will the Brotherhood or the Parliament even survive?
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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