The Egyptian revolution is in gridlock. As elections loom ahead, the ruling military council is concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood will easily win more parliament seats than the secular candidates threatening the secular nature of Egypt.
This weekend Islamic holiday, which centers on sacrifice and feeding the poor, offered the Muslim Brotherhood a golden opportunity. Putting to use its vast charity network, the Brotherhood sold discounted vegetables and meat to the poor that were unable to celebrate the holiday otherwise.
Understanding that the road to democracy may turn Egypt into an Islamic state, the secular Military Council tried to propose a new constitution which would have given the ruling military council exclusive authority to approve any legislation on the army’s internal affairs.
While public outcry led to the dismissal of this proposal, the problem remains how to ensure the Muslim Brotherhood which are likely to dominate the new government, will not be able to dismantle the secular body of the army.
Meanwhile, in a poor district of eastern Cairo on Friday, families crowded outside the neighborhood mosque as volunteers for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party yelled out prices on discounted potatoes, lemons, green beans and other vegetables. Many of those that bought the discounted goods said they will vote for the Brotherhood as they “help with the expensive items“.
Tunisia’s elections in which the Islamic party won 41% of the votes highlighted the Egyptian upcoming elections. As we saw in Tunisia, in such founding elections with new parties, organization and network is crucial for high approval rates. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood excels on both counts, while the secular candidates and parties are starting from scratch.
In the western world, democracy is sacred. But history tells us that democracy was used to bring about terrible dictators such as Hitler, which led the world to a global war. In a more recent event, we saw Hamas rise to power in Democratic elections leading Gaza to years of misery. We are now witnessing the same process in Egypt.
As the Muslim Brotherhood is putting their network to use it’s not a question of who will win these elections but rather how much votes they’ll get.