The 21st Century Phenomenon




Egypt’s Muslims Brotherhood, in control of almost half the seats in parliament, has said, on Saturday 03/31/2012, it will file its own presidential candidate, reversing an earlier decision not to do so and escalating its confrontation with the nation’s ruling generals and the group’s secular and progressive critics. The first round of the Egyptian presidential election is scheduled to 05/24/2012. less than two months ahead.

A win by its candidate, the group’s chief strategist and deputy leader Khairat al-Shater, would give the formerly outlawed movement a strong grip on both the country’s legislative and executive branches.

The announcement at a Cairo news conference on Saturday ended weeks of speculation and confusion within the group, which believes Islamic principles should regulate all aspects of public and family life. The decision split the group’s governing Shura council, the group’s legislative body, into two camps: one in favour of fielding a candidate from within and one against it, fearing the repercussions, according to a Brotherhood official.

Khairat al-Shater, 62, is a multi-millionaire businessman and one of the Brotherhood’s main financiers. He studied engineering in Alexandria University and is therefore known by his nickname “The Engineer” – in Arabic “al-Muhandiss”. Khairat al-Shater was arrested several times during Mubarak’s regime and sentenced twice to short prison terms. He is very known and popular in Egypt for providing inexpensive loans to lower class people for small needs and initiatives. Khairat al-Shater is considered as a moderate, charismatic and very practical leader.

The movement’s decision to nominate one of its own is likely to escalate the group’s confrontation with the council of military generals, who are accused of seeking to preserve the army’s privileges and are likely not to want too much power concentrated in the hands of a single group. It will also widen the gap with progressives and secularists, who fear that the movement, which has largely espoused moderate rhetoric in the past year, will implement a conservative agenda once it has solidified its political position (see – EGYPT’S DIRECTION).

Already two Islamic candidates: Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who runs on an Islamic Salafist ticket and Abdel Moneim Abul-Futuh (see – EGYPT’S CLOUDS), a former Islamic Brotherhood leader who was expelled from the movement, are gaining momentum and surge in the polls and it is assumed that the Brotherhood fears that the balance with the Army and the more secular side of the Egyptian society is not sustainable anyway. Khairat al-Shater is splitting the Islamic voice but so are the secular candidates on the other side of Egypt’s political map.


In the other camp the candidates are: Amer Moussa, the ex-head of the Arab League and former Foreign Minister in Mubarak’s regime, Bothaina Kamel – a media personality and pro-democracy activist, Ahmed Shafik who was the last prime minister appointed by Hosni Mubarak after the begin of the 01/2011 EGYPT’S REVOLUTION. He resigned only three weeks after. Ahmed Shafik claims to be on good terms with the ruling Military Supreme Council, and some other candidates. Eventually no candidate will gain enough votes to win the elections in the first round and it is most likely that the second round will be between Amer Moussa and Khairat al-Shater. In that case the Islamic candidate has all the chances to be the next president of Egypt.  

Already, Muslim conservatives enjoy a comfortable majority on a 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution for Egypt, which has raised serious alarm among the nation’s large Christian minority and progressives.

Egypt is changing its face – It is most likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will corner the Egyptian Generals Council. Although Khairat al-Shater is a devoted member of the Muslims Brotherhood he refrains and opposes any use of violence , even not against Israel, he is economically minded and very pragmatic. It is the price of Islamic democracy.


*The committee overseeing the Egyptian presidential election has upheld, on Tuesday 04/17/2012, rulings disqualifying 10 candidates from the race including Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief Omar Suleiman, Salafi preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper has reported.

But the Brotherhood already registered another candidate Mohammed Mursi (pic) when it thought that al-Shater would be banned from taking part because he served time in jail during Mubarak’s regime. Mohammed Mursi is the chairman of the Freedom and Justice party, the political wing of the Muslims Brotherhood.


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