Friday, April 04, 2008

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Belongs on the Ballot, Not Behind Bars -"

Those who do not follow Egyptian politics closely may be tempted to dismiss Essam el-Erian's depiction of the Mubarak regime's disrespect for freedom and the law as exaggerated, but to do so would be quite wrong. The writer is a leading member of the Muslim Brothers (MB), a man respected for his moderation and good sense. His description is measured and quite accurate.

I last lived in Egypt in late 2006 and early 2007, for six months, and I have been there many times over the past decades. There is no doubt that the scope of freedom in Egypt has been steadily constricted particularly since 2001. The insecure and calcified regime that dominates public life is unwilling to tolerate any credible political opposition. No doubt, the Muslim Brothers are the most important opposition movement in the country, as el-Erian notes, but other respectable opposition groups have suffered the same fate as the MB. In addition, even liberal intellectuals are finding themselves tightly monitored and controlled.

The constriction of freedom has often been rationalized as incidental to the puzzle of succession. Gamal Mubarak is widely understood as the likely successor to his father, but one continues to hear reports of unease about the younger Mubarak in important military and security circles. The result is a truly stultifying political environment, one that bears a closer resemblance politically to Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe in the 1970s than to a Mediterranean democracy.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Belongs on the Ballot, Not Behind Bars -"

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