Elections in Egypt Could Signal End of Secularism

Monday, 29 Nov 2010 09:20 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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The future of Egypt has been a hot media topic in 2010 for the West.  Upcoming elections could radically change the country from secularism to Shariah rule.

Critics of Egypt's current president, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, believe that the country is collapsing under his rule.

Many clamor for change: Aiman Nour (leader of Al-Ghad Party), Al-Baradeii (former head of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), or members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Elections are held in Egypt to determine who will rule the parliament for the ensuing five years.

It is almost impossible to deny that Egypt needs improvements and reforms; however, it is unfair to ignore the positive effects of those currently in power.

For example, the Egyptian currency remained relatively stable over several years against the U.S. dollar. In addition, schistosomiasis, an endemic parasitic disease in Egypt for thousands years, has been eradicated during Mubarak's era.

Significant elements of secularism are maintained. For example, women are not forced by the government to wear the hijab in the streets, people are not forced to pray, and hotels can offer alcohol and gambling in casinos.

The Mubarak regime managed to a great extent to weaken the military wing of Islamism. However, it could not effectively weaken the spread of Islamism at the ideological level.

It is not the first administration to fail against radical Islam. In fact, after the Luxor massacre in Egypt in 1997, Mubarak recognized the global nature of radical Islam and suggested an international conference to unite the world’s efforts against it, but unfortunately, Western governments did not listen to this advice back then.

The growth of the ideology of Islamism phenomenon is creating a challenge for the ruling regimen in Egypt and for others governments as well.
If the Muslim Brotherhood gains power of the country the consequences will be grave for the entire Middle East.

The Muslim Brotherhood favors Shariah, which promotes stoning adulterers, hanging gays, and beheading apostates in public places. Further, they would ban such practices as drinking alcohol and gambling in hotels. This would have a major negative impact on tourism in the country.

The collapse of the tourism industry would drag the country into more poverty, more unemployment, and promote the recruitment of more jihadists.

Furthermore, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, said if his movement wins the election, it will work to sever relations with Israel.

That would end any hope for peace in the region.

Aiman Nour, who might run against Mubarak in the coming presidential elections, is relatively secular; however, he is not much different from the Muslim Brotherhood when it comes to their anti-Israel position.

In 2006, the movement launched a campaign demanding ending the peace treaty with Israel.

Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei, who might also run for the presidential elections in the country in 2011, has been warmly received celebration by the Muslim Brotherhood and has appeared with the flag of the Muslim Brotherhood behind him. Dangerous times indeed.

Egypt needs a strong leader who can fight jihadists to ensure stability of the country and at the same time maintain secularism.



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