The democratisation of the Muslim brotherhood

Egypt is in the midst of holding its first democratic elections since the revolution and the toppling of Dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Reports emanating from the region are indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood group is doing well in the elections, the group that was once dubbed as hostile to the west and radical Islamists by the United States and suppressed by Mubarak.

The former U.S White House counterterrorism chief during the Bush administration, Juan Zarate said: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians.”

Current head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri was once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as a student, but later on he went onto join Jemaah Islamiyah which is a movement that started in Egypt that thought the Muslim Brotherhood was too soft a regime.

The Arab Spring caught the entire western world with its pants around its ankles and only on 29June this year did the U.S reopen diplomatic channels with the Muslim Brotherhood. But it was the United States fear of “Islamist” groups that saw it continue to support Hosni Mubarak, even when the people of Egypt clearly wanted him out.

Despite the growing pressure on Mubarak to step down and the U.S to act. At the time, the U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said: “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

The Muslim Brotherhood hadn’t officially supported the protests, but young people from the organisation joined the movement.

Laying to rest stereotypes of Islam and it’s attitudes to women. Soundos Asem, a young, well spoken, female member of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth speaking on the BBC said:

“We didn’t raise any brotherhood banners or any brotherhood slogans that are usually raised in other brotherhood protests because the uprising was meant to be an Egyptian uprising not an Islamic uprising.”

No one can second guess the volatile situation in the Arab world. In Egypt further protestations have broken out since the revolution. There is also a fear of what may happen to the Coptic Christians of Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood came into power.

Former Director General of Al-Jazeera Wadah Khanfar, speaking on ABC radio said: “I don’t really feel that there is, you know, any danger that the Copts in Egypt could face because of a rise of the Islamic movement in Egypt.”

He went onto add: “There is great emphasis at this moment in time within the Islamic movement’s discourse and ideology on the separation between religion and power.”

Currently discourse such as radical can be used by any movement other than Islam; we see it being used here in the UK by the party leaders. Nick Clegg earlier this year said: “Our politics is the politics of the radical centre.” We hear of radical reforms. But now the western world is going to have to work with the radical democratic movement of Islam and not suppressive dictators, at least in Egypt.

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