The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Jonathan Wright is a longtime Reuters correspondent in the Middle East who is now a translator and blogger based in Cairo.
(Photo: Mohamed Badie, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Cairo on November 30, 2010. The sign behind him says: “Election fraud”/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Egypt’s main opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, has said it is gathering evidence of vote rigging and other violations in last month’s parliamentary elections and will alert international human rights groups. It also said on Saturday that it would turn to Egypt’s constitutional and higher administrative courts to call for the dissolution of the new parliament and a re-run of elections.
(Photo: A Muslim Brotherhood candidate holds up election ballots he said were burned by government supporters, in Cairo November 30, 2010/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party has swept to a predictably huge win in an Egyptian parliamentary election that the opposition denounced as rigged, state media reported on Monday.
(Photo: Posters of candidates of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria, 27 Nov 2010/Goran Tomasevic)
It seemed too good to be true when Amira Antar walked into the polling station to vote for Egypt’s Islamist opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, unimpeded by security forces or hired thugs. She quickly found out it was. After she made her choice, the polling station supervisor unfolded Antar’s ballot, ticked the candidate of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party and put her now spoiled paper in the box.
Egypt has temporarily shut 12 satellite channels and warned 20 others for reasons ranging from insulting religions to broadcasting pornography, although an analyst said the real target seemed to be strict Islamic trends.
Support for radical Islamist groups is low among European Muslims and some leading groups with overseas roots are now cooperating with local governments and encouraging Muslims to vote, according to a new report.
The new leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has said that government efforts to squeeze Egypt’s biggest opposition group out of politics would only spur on “deviant” and potentially violent Islamic movements. Mohamed Badie, 66, told Marwa Awad and Edmund Blair of the Reuters Cairo bureau the group would campaign in this year’s parliamentary election, but a state crackdown would likely prevent a repeat of its success in 2005 when it secured a fifth of the seats.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist political group, has named a conservative as its new leader, suggesting that the country’s biggest opposition group may lower its political profile and focus on a social agenda.