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Islamic Movement: Politische Freiheit & Demokratie

Dr.Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Es ist die Pflicht des (Islamisch) Bewegung in der kommenden Phase tostand Unternehmen gegen totalitäre und diktatorische Herrschaft, politische Willkür und Anmaßung der Rechte der Menschen. The Movement should always stand by political freedom, as represented by true,not false, democracy. It should flatly declare it refusal of tyrantsand steer clear of all dictators, even if some tyrant appears to havegood intentions towards it for some gain and for a time that is usually short, as has been shown by experience.The Prophet (SAWS) said, “ When you see my Nation fall victim to fear and does not say to a wrong –doer, “You are wrong”, thenyou may lose hope in them.” So how about a regime that forces people to say to a conceited wrongdoer, “How just, how great you are. O our hero, our savior and our liberator!”The Quran denounces tyrants such as Numrudh, Pharaoh, Haman and others, but it also dispraises those who follow tyrants andobey their orders. This is why Allah dispraises the people of Noahby saying, “ But they follow (m en) whose wealth and childrengive them no increase but only loss.” [Surat Nuh; 21]Allah also says of Ad, people of Hud, “ And followed thecommand of every powerful, obstinate transgressor”. [Surat Hud:59]See also what the Quran says about the people of Pharaoh, “ Butthey followed the command of Pharaoh, and the command ofPharaoh was not rightly guided.[Surat Hud: 97] “Thus he made fools of his people, and they obeyed him: truly they were a people rebellious (against Allah)." [Surat Az-Zukhruf: 54]A closer look at the history of the Muslim Nation and the IslamicMovement in modern times should show clearly that the Islamicidea, the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening have never flourished or borne fruit unless in an atmosphere ofdemocracy and freedom, and have withered and become barren only at the times of oppression and tyranny that trod over the willof the peoples which clung to Islam. Such oppressive regimesimposed their secularism, socialism or communism on their peoples by force and coercion, using covert torture and publicexecutions, and employing those devilish tools that tore flesh,shed blood, crushed bone and destroyed the soul.We saw these practices in many Muslim countries, including Turkey, Ägypten, Syrien, Irak, (the former) South Yemen, Somaliaand northern African States for varying periods of time, depending on the age or reign of the dictator in each country.On the other hand, we saw the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening bear fruit and flourish at the times of freedom and democracy, and in the wake of the collapse of imperial regimes that ruled peoples with fear and oppression.Therefore, I would not imagine that the Islamic Movement could support anything other than political freedom and democracy.The tyrants allowed every voice to be raised, except the voice ofIslam, and let every trend express itself in the form of a politicalparty or body of some sort, except the Islamic current which is theonly trend that actually speaks for this Nation and expresses it screed, values, essence and very existence.

Living with Democracy in Egypt

Daniel Tröster

Hosni Mubarek was almost elected president of Egypt in September 2005. Not that the seventy-seven-year-old secular autocrat who has ruled that nationfor the past twenty-four years lost the election; by the official count, he took nearly 85 percent of the vote.His nearest competitor, Ayman Nour, the upstart headof the fledgling opposition party al-Ghad (“Tomorrow”),managed less than 8 percent. The only other candidate to take any significant tally was the aged NomanGamaa of the venerable al-Wafd (“Delegation”)party, who managed less than 3 percent. The Ikhwanal-Muslimeen (“Muslim Brotherhood”), feared by somany Westerners for its purist Islamic social and politicalagenda, didn’t even field a candidate.Mubarek’s decisive victory would seem to be reassuringto most people—particularly secular Americans—worried for the future of the few Westernfriendly,moderate Arab regimes, threatened as theyare by the Islamicization of politics in the region. The Bush administration would also seem to have reasonto be pleased, given its recent change of heart aboutArab democracy. The missing chemical weapons in Iraq and subsequent justification of the war thereas precedent for democratization have inspired theWhite House to push for as many elections as possible in the region. Tatsächlich, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the American University inCairo in June, she announced to some surprise that“for sixty years” the United States had been mistakenin “pursu[ing] stability at the expense of democracy”in the Middle East. For generations, US-. pundits weresure that the “Arab street” couldn’t be trusted with the vote, as they might hand over power to communistsor fundamentalist Islamists. Realpolitik dictated that autocrats and dictators, like Mubarek and Saddam Hussein, had to be coddled in order to maintain “stability”in the region. If they would then stage election sor dispense with them altogether, deny free speech,and let loose secret police to terrorize the population,the White House would likely turn a blind eye. But ifMubarek could now claim a true democratic mandate,that would be the best of all worlds.

Politische Transitions in der arabischen Welt

Dina Shehata

Das Jahr 2007 markierte das Ende einer kurzen Pause der politischen Liberalisierung in der arabischen Welt, die kurz nach der Besetzung des Irak und die resultierten vor allem aus externen Druck auf die arabischen Regime zu reformieren und zu demokratisieren begannen. External pressures during the 2003-2006 period created a political opening which activists across the region used to press for longstanding demands for political and constitutional reform.Faced with a combination of growing external and internal pressures to reform, Arab regimes were forced to make some concessions to their challengers.In Egypt, upon the request of the President, Parliament passed a constitutional amendment to allowfor direct competitive presidential elections. In September2005, Egypt witnessed its first competitive presidential election ever and as expected Mubarak was elected for a fifth term with 87%of the vote. Außerdem,during the November 2005 parliamentary elections,which were freer than previous elections, die Muslimbruderschaft, the largest opposition movement in Egypt, won 88 seats. This was the largest number of seats won by an opposition group in Egypt since the 1952 revolution.Similarly, in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a majority of the seats.Hamas was thereby able to establish control over the Palestinian Legislative Council which had been dominated by Fatah since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. In Lebanon, in the wake of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri on 14th February2005, a coalition of pro-Hariri political forces was ablet hrough broad-based mass mobilization and external support to force Syrian troops to pull out from Lebanon and the pro-Syrian Government to resign. Elections were held, and the 14th February coalition was able to win a plurality of the votes and to form a new government.In Morocco, King Mohamed VI oversaw the establishment of a truth and reconciliation committee which sought to address the grievances of those who had been abused under the reign of his father.The Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) also under took some important reforms during the 2003-2006 period. In 2003 Qatar promulgated a written constitution for the first time in its history. In 2005,Saudi Arabia convened municipal elections for the firsttime in five decades. And in 2006, Bahrain held parliamentaryelections in which the Shiite society of AlWefaqwon 40%of the seats. Subsequently, the first Shiitedeputy prime minister in Bahrain was appointed.Theses events, which came to be known as ‘the Arab Spring,’ led some optimists to believe that the Arabworld was on the brink of a democratic transformation similar to those experienced in Latin American and Eastern and Central Europe during the 1980s and1990s. Aber, in 2007, as political liberalization gave way to heightened polarization and to renewed repression,these hopes were dispelled. The failure ofthe openings of the 2003-2006 period to create a sustained momentum towards democratization can beat tributed to a number of factors. The deteriorating security situation in Iraq and the failure of the United States to create a stable and democratic regime dampened support for democracy promotion efforts within the American administration and reinforced the views ofthose who held that security and stability must come before democracy. Außerdem, the electoral successes of Islamists in Egypt and in Palestine further dampened Western support for democracy promotion efforts in the region since the principals of thesemovements were perceived to be at odds with the interestsof theWest.

Der W&M Progressive

Julian Carr
Richael Faithful
Ethan Forrest

Accepting the Responsibility of Electoral Choice

The development of democratic institutions comes with negative externalities. As a political progressive, I believe that the big picture – establishing a solid democratic foundation – outweighs the possible emergence of political parties that may advocate religious or gender intolerance. I am a firm believer in the workings of the democratic process. While I have been studying in Egypt for the semester, I am reminded that despite the imperfections of the United States democratic system, it is still many times better than living under any authoritarian regime that outlaws political parties and posts military police at a variety of locations in an effort to exert control and maintain power.

In Egypt, the electoral process is not democratic. The National Political Party – the party of President Mubarak – exerts tremendous influence in the country. Its main opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood, which was created in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. The Muslim Brotherhood is based on very strict interpretations of the Koran and the idea that secular governments are a direct violation of the teaching of the Koran. The party has a very violent past; it has been directly responsible for several assassination attempts and the assassination of the Egyptian leader Anwar-as-Sadat in 1981.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an illegal political party. Because the political party is religious, it is not allowed to participate in the public sphere under Egyptian law. Despite this technicality, the party has members in the Egyptian Parliament. Aber, the parliamentarians cannot officially declare their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood but instead identify as Independents. Though the party remains illegal, it remains the most powerful opposition to the ruling National Democratic Party.

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, die Muslimbruderschaft, 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; und

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

Demokratisierung und islamische Politik:

YOKOTA Takayuki�

The aim of this article is to explore the often contradictory correlation between democratizationand Islamic politics in Egypt, focusing on a new Islamic political party, the Wasat Party (Ḥizbal-Wasaṭ).Theoretically, democratization and Islamic politics are not incompatible if Islamic politicalorganizations can and do operate within a legal and democratic framework. On the other hand,this requires democratic tolerance by governments for Islamic politics, as long as they continueto act within a legal framework. In the Middle East, jedoch, Islamic political parties are oftensuspected of having undemocratic agendas, and governments have often used this suspicion as ajustification to curb democratization. This is also the case with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood(Jam‘īya al-Ikhwān al-Muslimīn) under the Ḥusnī Mubārak regime. Although the Brotherhood is amainstream Islamic movement in Egypt, operating publicly and enjoying considerable popularity,successive governments have never changed its illegal status for more than half a century. Someof the Brotherhood members decided to form the Wasat Party as its legal political organ in order tobreak this stalemate.There have been some studies on the Wasat Party. Stacher [2002] analyzes the “Platformof the Egyptian Wasat Party” [Ḥizb al-Wasaṭ al-Miṣrī 1998] and explains the basic principlesof the Wasat Party as follows: democracy, sharī‘a (Islamic law), rights of women, and Muslim-Christian relations. Baker [2003] regards the Wasat Party as one of the new Islamist groups thathave appeared in contemporary Egypt, and analyzes its ideology accordingly. Wickham [2004]discusses the moderation of Islamic movements in Egypt and the attempt to form the WasatParty from the perspective of comparative politics. Norton [2005] examines the ideology andactivities of the Wasat Party in connection with the Brotherhood’s political activities. As theseearlier studies are mainly concerned with the Wasat Party during the 1990s and the early 2000s,I will examine the ideology and activities of the Wasat Party till the rise of the democratizationmovement in Egypt in around 2005. I will do so on the basis of the Wasat Party’s documents, suchas the “Platform of the New Wasat Party” [Ḥizb al-Wasaṭ al-Jadīd 2004]1), and my interviews withits members.

Ägypten: Säkularismus, Shariah, and the Prospects for an Inclusive Democracy

Manar Shorbagy

The relationship between religion and politics is at the top of the politicalagenda in Egypt, und, as I shall argue, it has important implications for thepolitical rights of Egyptian women and minorities. Aber, the issue is not asimple secular/religious divide. It is, lieber, the problem of how to define thenature and characteristics of a civil, democratic state that is neither a theocracynor an Islamically “naked” public space. !e Islamist/secularist dichotomy is afalse one; it has little or no relevance to actual political processes and possibilitiesin Egypt, where a middle ground is both theoretically and practically conceivable.Such a middle ground, jedoch, must be deliberately sought and found byEgyptians, so that a national consensus on the relationship between religion andpolitics can emerge.For a brief time, such a consensus seemed possible. Hopes were highbetween 2005 and early 2007. But those possibilities collapsed in 2007. !ispaper examines the reasons for this collapse. Reasons, I will argue, that lie incorrectable political failures of actors across the board, rather than any inherentimpossibility of creating an inclusive democracy in a Muslim society.Understanding Egypt’s Current Predicament2005 was an unusual political year in Egypt. Many taboos were broken in streetprotests and by the independent press. Domestic political pressure to begindemocratic reform was mounting to unprecedented levels. Außerdem, in theirconfrontation with the regime, many political forces shrewdly took advantage ofthe U.S.’s democracy rhetoric without buying into the Bush agenda or allowing92 SECULARISM, WOMEN & THE STATE: THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD IN THE 21ST CENTURYthemselves to be exploited by the Bush administration.One of 2005’s most promising developments was the publicacknowledgement, for the first time, that a generation of young activists andintellectuals had succeeded, over more than a decade, in acting across ideologicallines. !e Egyptian Movement for Change, also known as Kefaya,1 was onemanifestation of these efforts and an important illustration of the possibilitiesof this new politics.

Frauen, Arbeit, und Islam in den arabischen Gesellschaften

Yusuf Sidani

Arab societies are currently in a state of confusion. Problems of underdevelopment,inequity, institutional deficiencies, and illiteracy are rampant (Arab HumanDevelopment Report, 2002). Arabs seem to be in a futile search for a new identity ina world that is transforming: power structures are shifting, societal expectations arechanging, and male-female relations are developing. The Arabs seem to yearn for anew identity that does not displace them from their roots, and at the same timeconnects them to the future; the search seems incessantly fruitless. Even non-Arabsseem to be confused about the issue. Vivid movie images mostly portray the Arab maleas a primitive, fanatic, brutal, lunatic, vicious, and splendidly prosperous individualwhile the Arab woman is portrayed as a belly dancer or whore, a veiled submissivemember of a luxurious harem, or a speechless oppressed character with no identity(Boullata, 1990). The political developments of the past few years did not help bringabout a better image. The rise of Islamic activism, end of the cold war, Huntington’s“clash of civilizations” supposition, and the events of 11th September only reinforcedthe bewilderment and confusion.In addressing the notion of women’s participation in the business and politicalarenas in Arab societies, conflicting remarks are brought forward. Some refer to therole of culture and the prevailing religion in the area – Islam and interpretations ofIslam – as possible reasons for such lack of participation (El-Saadawi, 1997; Mernissi,1991). Islam, it is asserted, is not merely a set of beliefs and rituals but is also a socialorder that has an all-pervading influence on its followers (Weir, 2000). This essayattempts to present varying discourses pertaining to women’s work and how it isimpacted by interpretations of Islam. We present current discourses from variousviewpoints including Muslim scholars on the one hand and active feminists on theother hand. We address the disagreements that exist in the camps of the religiousscholars in their interpretations of religious texts impacting women and their work. Inaddition, we tackle the feminist discourse pertaining to the role of Islam, orunderstandings of Islam, in their participation and development.

ISLAM, DEMOCRACY & THE USA

cordoba-Stiftung


In spite of it being both a perennial anda complex debate, Arches Quarterly reexamines from theological and practicalgrounds, the important debate about the relationship and compatibility between Islam and Democracy, as echoed in Barack Obama’s agenda of hope and change. Whilst many celebrate Obama’s ascendancy to the Oval Office as a national catharsis for the US, othersremain less optimistic of a shift in ideologyand approach in the international arena.While much of the tension and distrust between the Muslim world and the USA canbe attributed to the approach of promotingdemocracy, typically favoring dictatorshipsand puppet regimes that pay lip-service todemocratic values and human rights, the aftershockof 9/11 has truly cemented the misgivingsfurther through America’s position onpolitical Islam. It has created a wall of negativityas found by worldpublicopinion.org,according to which 67% of Egyptians believethat globally America is playing a “mainlynegative” role.America’s response has thus been apt. Byelecting Obama, many around the world arepinning their hopes for developing a less belligerent,but fairer foreign policy towards theMuslim world. Th e test for Obama, as we discuss,is how America and her allies promote democracy. Will it be facilitating or imposing?Außerdem, can it importantly be an honestbroker in prolonged zones of conflicts?

Im Schatten der Brüder

Abdel-Latif Omayma

Im September 2007, die Muslimbruderschaft in Ägypten veröffentlicht seine erste politicalparty Plattform Entwurf. Unter den stark kritisiert Klauseln war man, dass deniedwomen (und Kopten) die rechte Staatschef zu sein. „Pflichten und Aufgaben übernommen von der Spitze des Staates, wie Armee kommandier, für Frauen sind contradictionwith die sozial verträglichen Rollen in,“Der Entwurf angegeben. In previousBrotherhood Dokumenten gab es keine spezifi sche Erwähnung der Position des headof Zustand; lieber, sie erklärte, dass Frauen durften alle postsexcept für al-Imama al-Kubra besetzen, die Position des Kalif, das ist der equivalentof ein Staatsoberhaupt in der Neuzeit. Viele waren überrascht, dass trotz severalprogressive bewegt sich die Bruderschaft in den vergangenen Jahren zu empowerwomen gemacht hatte, es herrschte das Recht der Frauen auf das Top-position.Although Land die Plattform nur ein erster Entwurf fi war aus, die banon Frauenmoslembruderschaft in Ägypten Top-Offi ce wieder alt, aber ernst, Fragen regardingthe Stand der islamistischen Bewegung auf dem Platz und die Rolle der „Schwestern“ innerhalb themovement. Die Bruderschaft früher eine vorgeschobene Position concerningwomen hatte genommen, als refl für parliamentaryand Kommunalwahlen in seiner Benennung von Frauen Kandidaten ektiert in 2000, 2005, und 2007, sowie die growingnumbers der Frauen in der Bruderschaft politischen Aktivitäten beteiligt, wie streetprotests und Wahlen. Obwohl die Plattform erkennt Frauen als Schlüssel politicalactors, es wurde ein Rückzug aus der Bewegung des fortgeschrittenen Positionie einige frühere Wahl Plattformen betrachtet.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Initiative as a Reform Program

Sayed Mahmoud Al-Qumni
On March 3, 2004, Herr. Mahdi Akef, the leader and guide of the Muslim Brotherhood launched the Brotherhood’s Initiative to Participate in Awaited Democratic Reform, presenting the Brotherhood as a political faction that deems itself competent to participate. The Brotherhood presented itselfnaturallyin the best possible light, which is everyone’s right. And on May 8, 2004, Dr. Essam Aryan, a Brotherhood luminary well known due to his appearances on the local Egyptian satellite station, Dream TV, said this initiative is a comprehensive, complete program for soon converting the Brotherhood into a political party.
Demokratie, in its liberal sense, means rule by the people, legislating laws for themselves according to their conditions. It doesn’t just mean elections. More importantly, and to lay the foundations for elections, democracy is a pluralistic political system that guarantees citizenspublic and private freedoms, especially freedom of expression and opinion. It also guarantees their human rights, especially freedom of religion. These are absolute freedoms, without any limitation or monitoring. The democratic system allows peaceful change of power in society and is based on a separation of powers. The judicial branch, especially, must be totally independent. Democracies adopt the free market economy that is based on competition, and that encourages individual initiatives. Democracies are based on channels of dialgoue and peaceful understanding among citizens. In dealing with local and international conflicts, they avoid military options as much as possible. Along with those who believe in democracy, it confronts the mentality of terrorism and violent fundamentalist dogmatism. Democracies oppose absolutist ideas that claim to own the absolute truth, and defend relativistic and pluralistic principles. By doing so, they provide all religions the right to be active safely, except opinions that aim to confiscate freedoms or impose themselves on other parties by force or violence. So democracies are concerned with freeing religion from the monopoly of one interpretation or one sect.
In summary, democracy is a group of regulatory and legal measures for society that humankind has reached after a long history of conflict to refine authorities where religious figures cannot impose their will. Religious authorities were disengaged from the
authorities of the state, to guarantee the state’s neutrality toward all religions. This is what allows for freedom of religion and opinion, and freedom of worship for all in total freedom and equality. This prevents conflict in the name of religion, which leads to the security of the state and its citizens.

On March 3, 2004, Herr. Mahdi Akef, the leader and guide of the Muslim Brotherhood launched the Brotherhood’s Initiative to Participate in Awaited Democratic Reform, presenting the Brotherhood as a political faction that deems itself competent to participate. The Brotherhood presented itselfnaturallyin the best possible light, which is everyone’s right. And on May 8, 2004, Dr. Essam Aryan, a Brotherhood luminary well known due to his appearances on the local Egyptian satellite station, Dream TV, said this initiative is a comprehensive, complete program for soon converting the Brotherhood into a political party.Democracy, in its liberal sense, means rule by the people, legislating laws for themselves according to their conditions. It doesn’t just mean elections. More importantly, and to lay the foundations for elections, democracy is a pluralistic political system that guarantees citizenspublic and private freedoms, especially freedom of expression and opinion. It also guarantees their human rights, especially freedom of religion. These are absolute freedoms, without any limitation or monitoring. The democratic system allows peaceful change of power in society and is based on a separation of powers. The judicial branch, especially, must be totally independent. Democracies adopt the free market economy that is based on competition, and that encourages individual initiatives. Democracies are based on channels of dialgoue and peaceful understanding among citizens. In dealing with local and international conflicts, they avoid military options as much as possible. Along with those who believe in democracy, it confronts the mentality of terrorism and violent fundamentalist dogmatism. Democracies oppose absolutist ideas that claim to own the absolute truth, and defend relativistic and pluralistic principles. By doing so, they provide all religions the right to be active safely, except opinions that aim to confiscate freedoms or impose themselves on other parties by force or violence. So democracies are concerned with freeing religion from the monopoly of one interpretation or one sect.In summary, democracy is a group of regulatory and legal measures for society that humankind has reached after a long history of conflict to refine authorities where religious figures cannot impose their will. Religious authorities were disengaged from theauthorities of the state, to guarantee the state’s neutrality toward all religions. This is what allows for freedom of religion and opinion, and freedom of worship for all in total freedom and equality. This prevents conflict in the name of religion, which leads to the security of the state and its citizens.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Success in the Legislative Elections in Egypt 2005

Obwohl Antar


In the context of an unprecedented opening of the political system in Egypt in 2004/2005, die Muslimbruderschaft (MB) scored an impressive success in the 2005 legislative elections that showed that the mainstream non-violent Islamist movement, despite the legal ban of the movement itself and of its political activities, is the only influential and organised political opposition in the face of the veteran National Democratic Party (NDP).Reasons for the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral success in 2005The first set of reasons for the MB’s success is related to the changes that occurred in the political context. Above all, the first presidential elections that took place in September 2005 had a direct impact on the legislative elections in November the same year: By opening up competition for the post of the president, the election signalled the unprecedented impasse of the regime seeking to patch up its legitimacy. Außerdem, civic protest movements had emerged that rejected the political system much more fundamentally and called for comprehensive reform. The most important of these has been the dynamic protest movement called the Egyptian Movement for Change, Kifaya. Aber, as a second set of factors, the regime itself can also be considered a factor in the MB’s rising influence: The NDP and government officials have relied heavily on religious arguments; they have oppressed secular or liberal opponents; they have nourished obscurantist religious trends in Al-Azhar and among religious groups; and they have let the MB take charge of welfare services in order to save on the state budget. Ebenfalls, the regime has allowed Islamist activists to enter trade unions, while reserving the leadership positions for the NDP. There is a third set of reasons for the MB’s success which is related to the movement’s long term strategy to build a societal base: The MB’s strategic approach has been to invest in welfare services so as to build a large power base among the population that they are able to mobilize politically. And indeed, not only have many MB candidates gained credibility and respect through their daily contacts with the people, the movement has been investing in the social sphere for more than 30 years. In a society in which 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line and the political participation rate is only 25 percent, providing services in all vital sectors – education, health, and employment – has proved to be the fastest and most successful way to gain supporters. Fourth, using the religious sphere as a place for political mobilisation has been a successful strategy of the MB. Those affiliated with the MB, members and sympathizers, often saw it as a religious duty to vote for a candidate of the movement. Despite the doubts the slogan “Islam is the solution” raised among many, the MB continued to use it because it wanted to focus on religion as the determining factor for the vote, and because it had gained the trust of the people as being the movement representing Islamic identity. On top of this, the movement was able to make use of the unprecedented coincidence of growing internal and external pressures on the regime, by starting open and direct political activity in the name of the movement. The MB has also understood the importance of rallying with other opposition forces, and it has sought coordination with these forces for creating more pressure on the regime. Related to this is another important factor for the MB’s success: its organisational capacity.Has the MB changed its agenda and priorities?While the MB has opted to participate peacefully in the political process in Egypt, it remains unclear as to whether it represents a genuine democratic force or if it will use the democratic opening to pursue an authoritarian agenda. Still, participation in the political system has already transformed the movement. During the 2005 election campaign the concepts of “democracy” and “political participation” found their way into the MB’s rhetoric and, most importantly, into its political strategies of creating grassroot networks for popular support. The experience of elaborating a political programme for the legislative elections pushed the movement to publicly clarify its positions on concepts such as party pluralism – something that had previously been refused in some trends of Islamic thought as “al-tahazzub” (partisanship) with the argument that Islam calls for unity of the nation rather than its fragmentation. The MB can be considered to be part of Egypt’s reform forces, but that is primarily so because it agrees with other political reformers on the tools for bringing about reforms: rule of law, good governance and free elections. The MB’s activities in Parliament have so far demonstrated their devotion to serving their voters and retaining credibility. They have been more efficient in dealing with public needs, in revealing corruption cases and in rapidly interacting with victims of injustice than other deputies. As has been discussed above, political change in Egypt until now has not meant a significant move toward democracy. First, this has reflected on the MB’s organisation, strategy and agenda. The “mutual fear reflex” as an outcome of the relationship between the illegal MB and the regime has required the movement to adopt a strategy of secrecy which prevents them from being transparent for security reasons. Ebenfalls, maintaining ambiguous positions is a defence mechanism used by both Islamist and non-Islamist opposition forces in Egypt.

Reneging on Reform: Egypt and Tunisia

Jeffrey Azarva

On November 6, 2003, President George W. Bush proclaimed, “Sixty years of Western nations excusingand accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe—because in the longrun, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.” This strategic shift, coupled with the invasionsof Iraq and Afghanistan, put regional governments on notice. The following spring, Tunisia’s president, ZineEl Abidine Bin Ali, and Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak—stalwart allies in the U.S.-led war on terrorismand two of North Africa’s most pro-American rulers—were among the first Arab leaders to visit Washingtonand discuss reform. But with this “Arab spring” has come the inadvertent rise of Islamist movementsthroughout the region. Jetzt, as U.S. policymakers ratchet down pressure, Egypt and Tunisia see a greenlight to backtrack on reform.