Thursday, January 12, 2012

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood enters 'uncharted waters' in new parliament

Islamist party is poised to take 45% of seats amid soaring public expectations but with few concrete powers to deliver reform

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Thursday 12 January 2012

"....Philip Rizk, an Egyptian activist and film-maker, echoes the sentiments of many revolutionaries when he argues that the recent elections are designed to stifle meaningful change. "The ballot was used in two ways," he claims. "Firstly there was a very specific discourse from the authorities, from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the transitional government, saying 'stop protesting and go out and vote'. It was a propaganda effect aimed at altering people's perceptions of change. Secondly, the vote was used as a cover for direct physical attacks on the protest movement that were carried out with exceptional violence."

The Brotherhood, Rizk argues, has not been a radical or revolutionary player in the dramatic upheaval this nation has witnessed over the past year, and both its commitment to neoliberal capitalism and its alleged electoral violations – there have been accusations of illegal campaigning and voter intimidation in polling stations, all of which are denied by the FJP – have left it "barely distinguishable" from Mubarak's NDP. "The most significant change that has taken place in Egypt is the one that has taken place inside people," says Rizk. "Not the whole population, but a large proportion of it, have started analysing and thinking and protesting, both within their spheres of daily activity and more centrally in urban squares like Tahrir, as well as other cities like Alexandria and Suez. Elections can come and go but I don't think that is going to shift: the bubble of complacency and fear has been broken."....."

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