Over a year ago, when the Arab Spring in Egypt was in full swing, many Pakistanis wondered why we couldn’t have such revolutionary fervour in our own country. Now it seems that Egypt may be becoming more like Pakistan, with the country being dominated by religious groups as well as the military. The victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, in the presidential elections, marks the first time that an overt Islamist has become the head of state in an Arab country. The true levers of power are still being controlled by the military, which has usurped parliament and all but declared martial law. All new democracies go through teething pains but Egypt’s seem to be especially severe.
The biggest challenge Morsi faces is that of uniting the disparate political forces in Egypt to keep the military at bay. His rhetoric so far has been mixed. During the campaign, Morsi insisted that only a male Muslim could be president, a statement that sparked alarm among the Coptic Christian community. Secular activists in Egypt have good reason to be wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamist organisation in the world.
Just because Morsi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, however, does not mean he will turn Egypt into an Islamist state. In his victory speech, he vowed to live up to Egypt’s treaty obligations, an apparent reference to its peace deals with Israel. He also said that he would look outside the Muslim Brotherhood to recruit a new prime minister and cabinet members. This can go a long way in providing a united civilian front in the inevitable struggle against the military. The Muslim Brotherhood may be the most popular political group in the country, but the revolution was only made possible thanks to the unprecedented unity of diverse groups against Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. To jettison them now would ensure further turmoil and divisions in the troubled country.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.
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