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ISLAMISTIČKI POKRETI I DEMOKRATSKI PROCES U ARAPSKOM SVIJETU: Istraživanje sivih zona

Nathan J. Smeđa, Amr Hamzawy,

Marina Ottaway

Tijekom posljednjeg desetljeća, Islamistički pokreti etablirali su se kao glavni politički igrači na Bliskom istoku. Zajedno s vladama, islamistički pokreti, umjereni kao i radikalni, odredit će kako će se odvijati politika u regiji u doglednoj budućnosti. Th ey have shown the ability not only to craft messages with widespread popular appeal but also, and most importantly, to create organizations with genuine social bases and develop coherent political strategies. Other parties,
by and large, have failed on all accounts.
Th e public in the West and, in particular, the United States, has only become aware of the importance of Islamist movements after dramatic events, such as the revolution in Iran and the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in Egypt. Attention has been far more sustained since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As a result, Islamist movements are widely regarded as dangerous and hostile. While such a characterization is accurate regarding organizations at the radical end of the Islamist spectrum, which are dangerous because of their willingness to resort to indiscriminate violence in pursuing their goals, it is not an accurate characterization of the many groups that have renounced or avoided violence. Because terrorist organizations pose an immediate
threat, međutim, policy makers in all countries have paid disproportionate attention to the violent organizations.
It is the mainstream Islamist organizations, not the radical ones, that will have the greatest impact on the future political evolution of the Middle East. Th e radicals’ grandiose goals of re-establishing a caliphate uniting the entire Arab world, or even of imposing on individual Arab countries laws and social customs inspired by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are simply too far removed from today’s reality to be realized. Th is does not mean that terrorist groups are not dangerous—they could cause great loss of life even in the pursuit of impossible goals—but that they are unlikely to change the face of the Middle East. Mainstream Islamist organizations are generally a diff erent matter. Th ey already have had a powerful impact on social customs in many countries, halting and reversing secularist trends and changing the way many Arabs dress and behave. And their immediate political goal, to become a powerful force by participating in the normal politics of their country, is not an impossible one. It is already being realized in countries such as Morocco, Jordan, and even Egypt, which still bans all Islamist political organizations but now has eighty-eight Muslim Brothers in the Parliament. Politika, not violence, is what gives mainstream Islamists their infl uence.

Arab Reform Bulletin

group of researchers


Egipat: Regression in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Party Platform?

Amr hamzawy


The Muslim Brotherhood’s draft party platform sends mixed signals about the movement’s political views

and positions. Although it has already been widely circulated, the document does not yet have final
approval from the movement’s guidance bureau.
The platform’s detailed treatment of political, social, and economic issues marks a significant departure
from previously less developed positions, articulated inter alia in a 2004 reform initiative and the 2005
electoral platform for Brotherhood parliamentary candidates. This shift addresses one of the most
important criticisms of the Brotherhood, namely its championing of vague ideological and religious

slogans and inability to come up with specific policy prescriptions.
The document raises troubling questions, međutim, regarding the identity of a future Brotherhood

political party as well as the group’s position on several political and social issues. Released in the
context of an ongoing stand-off between the Egyptian regime and the Brotherhood, it reveals significant
ambiguities and perhaps regression in the movement’s thinking.
First, the drafters chose not to address the future relationship between the party and the movement. In

doing so, they have deliberately ignored important ideas recently discussed within the movement,
especially among members of the parliamentary bloc. Inspired by the experiences of Islamist parties in
Maroko, Jordan, and Yemen, these members advocate a functional separation between a party and
the movement, with the former focused mainly on political participation and the latter on religious
activism. In addition to its superficial treatment of the nature of the party and its internal organization, the
platform includes no clear statement on opening party membership to all Egyptians regardless of their
religion, one of the requirements for establishing a political party according to the Egyptian constitution.
Second, the draft Brotherhood platform identifies implementation of sharia as one of the party’s main

goals. Although this is consistent with the group’s interpretation of Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution
(“Islam is the religion of the state, and Islamic law is the main source of legislation”), it departs from the
pragmatic spirit of various Brotherhood statements and initiatives since 2004 in which less emphasis
was given to the sharia issue. The return to a focus on sharia in the platform has led to positions
fundamentally at odds with the civil nature of the state and full citizenship rights regardless of religious
affiliation.

Egypt’s Local Elections Farce Causes and Consequences

Mohammed Herzallah

Amr Hamzawy

Egypt’s local elections of April 8, 2008 were a confirmation of a backwardslide in Egyptian politics. They were plagued by social unrest and politicaldiscord. In the weeks prior to the elections, labor protests escalated,precipitating a harsh crackdown that resulted in at least two fatalities and many injuries.The country’s largest opposition force, the Muslim Brotherhood, decided at the last minute to boycott the elections. Voter turn out did not exceed 5 percent and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP),facing virtually no competition, landed a sweeping victory—winning roughly95 percent of the seats at stake.These developments bring to light a broader deterioration in Egyptian politics.Three elements of this process stand out and deserve careful attention:

First, the burgeoning social crisis caused by out of control inflation, acrippled welfare system, and persistent unemployment;

• Second, a return to the old authoritarian practices of the rulingestablishment; i

• Third, worrying signs that call into question the very existence of aviable opposition capable of advancing reform through the political process.

The Draft Party Platform of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Nathan J. Smeđa
Amr Hamzawy

In the late summer 2007, amid great anticipation from Egypt’s ruling elite and opposition movements, the Muslim Brotherhood distributed the first draft of a party platform to a group of intellectuals and analysts. The platform was not to serve as a document for an existing political party or even one about to be founded: the Brotherhood remains without legal recognition in Egypt and Egypt’s rulers and the laws they have enacted make the prospect of legal recognition for a Brotherhood-founded party seem distant. But the Brotherhood’s leadership clearly wished to signal what sort of party they would found if allowed to do so.

With the circulation of the draft document, the movement opened its doors to discussion and even contentious debate about the main ideas of the platform, the likely course of the Brotherhood’s political role, and the future of its relationship with other political forces in the country.1 In this paper, we seek to answer four questions concerning the Brotherhood’s

party platform:

1. What are the specific controversies and divisions generated by the platform?


2. Why and how has the platform proved so divisive?


3. Given the divisions it caused as well as the inauspicious political environment,

why was a platform drafted at this time?


4. How will these controversies likely be resolved?


We also offer some observations about the Brotherhood’s experience with

drafting a party platform and demonstrate how its goals have only been partly

met. Ultimately, the integration of the Muslim Brotherhood as a normal political

actor will depend not only on the movement’s words but also on the deeds

of a regime that seems increasingly hostile to the Brotherhood’s political role.