Monday, November 29, 2010

Egypt's election magic turns the opposition almost invisible

Mubarak's campaign workers hand out meat and beatings

By Robert Fisk

"....There was a time, in the last elections five years ago, when the Brotherhood, the Ikhwan, would talk about their election campaign and their need to follow Islam in all their actions, and about the corruption of the Mubarak administration. Not any more. Now they whinge about the unfairness of an election in which they chose to take part, complain about police brutality and government harassment – all true, of course – and then creep off in silence. They like to be very careful these days....

In the Brotherhood headquarters, they were all praying when we arrived – as well they might since their gains in the 2005 election might now be reduced to zero – and complaining. Sixty-three members of the Brotherhood – illegal but tolerated, as the Egyptian government likes to say – were thrown into jail in Alexandria yesterday.....

The Brotherhood had 130 candidates, the NDP 839. Government "sources" (meaning Mr Mubarak's lackeys) talk of the total collapse of the Brotherhood. They may be right.

It's the same old Egyptian magic. In one Alexandria district, Mr Ibrahim's men counted 10,570 voters, of whom about 7,500 supposedly said they had voted for the Brotherhood, while in another they said that 5,000 out of 6,000 men and women voted for them. That may well be the case, but that's not what today's official results are going to say.

There was much thumping of fists on desks at the Brotherhood's office. They would not only complain to the Supreme Court about fake election results, Mr Ibrahim announced to us, they would go to the international court. To The Hague, no less. And that will have the NDP and its wondrous president of Egypt shaking in their well-polished boots.

And so tell me, I asked Mr Ibrahim, if 82 year-old Hosni Mubarak was still president at the age of 182 years, would the Brotherhood still fight these preposterous elections? "It's too soon to say," he murmured. See what I mean about being very careful?"

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