Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Thirsty for Change

« Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Saad al-Katatni calls for an end to Egyptian election fraud.
(Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)
In the wake of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, Egypt’s largest opposition movement is demanding reform. Will revolution come to Egypt?
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, demanded on Wednesday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dissolve the nation’s freshly formed parliament and hold a new election. The move is widely viewed as an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to capitalize on the thirst for change kindled by Tunisia’s recent Jasmine Revolution.
The Brotherhood also urged Cairo to prosecute corrupt policymakers and to repeal a law banning political rallies. Additionally, the Islamist group demanded constitutional changes to curb election rigging, following November’s elections when the Brotherhood lost all 88 of its parliamentary seats.
In a statement on its website the Brotherhood threatened that if the Egyptian government “does not move fast and shoulder responsibility to start a serious reform process, stability might not last for long.”
Demands and warnings of this kind from the Brotherhood are nothing new, but the most recent calls are timed to harness the momentum unleashed by the upheaval in Tunisia which deposed the nation’s dictator and sent ripples of revolutionary hope into opposition groups throughout the Middle East.
“The events in Tunisia are a cornerstone for the rest of the people of the Arab and Islamic world,” the Brotherhood wrote. “It is a message to all the despotic leaders and the corrupt regimes that they are not safe and they are living on the tip of a volcano of people’s anger and God’s wrath.”
Although some analysts have downplayed fears that the turmoil in Tunisia will spread into neighboring nations, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s complaints parallel those that culminated in the toppling of Tunisia’s president, and, in the last two weeks, nine Egyptian protesters have either set themselves on fire or tried to, in imitation of the self-immolation that ignited the uprising in Tunisia. And since Egypt suffers from the same symptoms—high youth unemployment, rising food prices, high inflation, a lack of political freedom, unapologetic corruption and nepotism—that afflicted Tunisia, the contagion possibility should not be ignored.
For years the Mubarak regime has held this change at bay, but, as discontent with the political system in Egypt increases, we will see the voice of the Islamists intensify. Egypt’s leadership will undergo a change, and probably sooner than most analysts expect.