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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Monday, November 28, 2005

Who is afraid of the Big Bad Brotherhood?

For the past weeks I have been one of the egyptian bloggers who panicked and cried foul over the fact that the MB is gaining seats in the parliament, but that was just the reactionary person in me speaking and I know that I have been acting like a drama queen over the whole thing. In reality, however, the fact that the MB is winning those seats is not something to be worried about or fear, but in actuality will be a very good thing in the long run. Surprised that I am saying that? Well, just hear me out then. First of all, let’s agree on one thing: the democratic process is working, despite all of the thuggery, forgeries and fraud that are being enacted by the NDP. This is what we wanted in the first place: a more democratic Egypt, right? The fact that the results are not the ones we fancy is part of what living in a democracy is all about. We may not like it, but the people chose them, and if we want to live in a democratic society we have to respect that, even if we don’t like it. And hey, talk about an incentive to get up off your ass and vote the next time. So maybe it’s a good thing that the Boogeyman that is the MB had won this way this time, it should scare everybody else to vote them out the next round, No? Second of all, let’s be objective here about the size of the winnings they made, ok? They ran on 150 seats, and they will likely end up around 100 seats from a parliament of 444. That’s less then 25%. They can’t really do much damage the NDP doesn’t want them to do. And yes, they have more then 65 seats, so they can have a presidential nominee, but that’s not all she wrote. They have to win seats in the shura council and the municipal elections as well, and chances are the NDP will ensure that they don’t get the right percentage there. Not to mention, there is a huge chance that this elections results will not affect the next presidential elections at all. The next parliamentary elections is in 2010 and the next presidential elections is in 2011. In order for them to have a candidate then they have to have at least 65 seats next time and not this time. And who knows, they may not get it next time; a lot of things could change in 5 years. So as far as panicking over the 2011 goes, it’s really premature for us to do so. And let’s also be clear on something: there is a good reason why the NDP is acting so stupidly this time and couldn’t curtail the MB like it did in the other elections and it’s called In-Fighting. The NDP is currently a mess because the Old Guard is teaching the new guard a lesson in manners. The old guard are all from the military-intelligence-Tanzim Taleeay apparatus, they were all raised in the Gamal Abdel Nasser school of dirty politics. The new guard are civilians, businessmen, cronies and sons of connected people who think that all the NDP needs is a good marketing campaign and a couple of hollow slogans about democracy and reform and the people will just believe it and support them. The old guard was like: “You think that’s all it takes? Fine. Go and run without our help and see what will happen to you. You need to be taught a lesson.” And they were taught a big lesson. Biggest evidence of that is the fall of Hossam Badrwai in front of Hisham Khalil. Hossam who is Jimmy’s best friend, got his ass handed to him by a novice playboy, who was the favorite of all the old guard. It’s no accident he won this. At all. Plus, add to that equation the ex-NDP independents who are running against the candidates of their own party, the ineptness of the opposition parties of fielding candidates that can win, the other independent candidates who are saturating the ballot and a judiciary that is still pissed off over them getting sidelined during the presidential elections and you will realize what a fine mess this election has been and that the NDP candidates’ losses are something to be expected. The MB didn’t have that problem. They were unified, they had a clear message and name recognition. Why wouldn’t they win? Third of all, their win will give the egyptian people a chance to try them out and expose them for who they really are. The MB’s line has always been that the people should try them out and see what they stand for, and I support that 100%. I want people to see what kind of issues the MB likes to tackle. The MB MP’s in the last parliament had a list of achievements that ranged from protesting that Nancy Ajram concerts were on TV while the 2003 war on Baghdad was on, to the censoring of certain books they deemed immoral, to submitting a request for an investigation on how the a sanitary products company embarrassed a school of girls by coming over and talking about periods and menstrual cycles and what kind of sanitary products they should use. That’s the kind of stuff they do in parliament. Sure, it’s funny, and they can claim to be fighting social battles, but the people don’t really give a damn about books or concerts. They have serious problems and they want someone- i.e. the MB- to solve them. And they probably won’t. They are too busy demanding that the internet gets filtered from Porn and that ruby puts her cloths on, to actually propose anything meaningful. They could do it, but chances are they won’t. It’s not what they do. So the people will try them out for 5 years, and seeing how they are a group of people who don’t tackle or solve any of the real serious problems that we are facing, I am not sure they will have confidence in them to vote for them again. People voted for the MB to be the NDP’s opposition on the stuff that matters. My bet is that in 5 years they will change their minds. Finally, the MB’s winnings should act as a necessary wake up call to all of the old political parties. It should inform them that they are out of touch and need to reform, restructure themselves and reach out to the people. And that they need to show that they are actual opposition parties, even if they don’t have enough MP’s to actually effectively oppose anything. If they start reaching out to the public, and re-organize and structure themselves for the 2010 elections, and the people start seeing that the MB won’t really do anything, chances are the parties can win big then. Just in time for the 2011 elections. They will have to if they want to survive in the egyptian political arena, and I think the majority of them do. So yeah, this is why I am not really worried about the MB winning. Let them have their 100 candidates in the Parliament. Let’s try them out. Let’s see what they are all about. Let them annoy the NDP MP’s with their silly laws, requests and investigations. Let them scare the shit of the opposition parties to get up off their asses and do something. Either way we can't lose. Let them be who they are and let’s just enjoy the show. It’s one I bet will be worth watching.


At 11/28/2005 03:43:00 AM, Blogger shamoussa said...

WOW, now I have some hope!

At 11/28/2005 04:26:00 AM, Blogger 4thH said...

I disagree , yet I am with u that it's people's wish .. we should respect that ..
but then again , I'm not that optimistic

At 11/28/2005 04:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really could care less if they have the majority or not.. I dont think they should be allowed on anything.. These are fanatics that takes people's lives if they dont follow their ass backwards way of thinking. Almost all of them no strike that all of them belong in jail... I guess freedom of religion is one that Egypt will never get to experience.

At 11/28/2005 04:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i ment to say shouldnt be allowed on anythings. Im to tired and wasnt paying attention to what I was typing..These assholes only feel that they are gaining more power by allowing them even 1 seat.

At 11/28/2005 07:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Don't underestimate the "stupid" issues that your Muslim Brotherhood decides to tackle.

Don't bet on the idea that your people will reject those issues as being frivolous and not important. My guess is that they will take them very seriously because they will be marketed under a religious, cultural, and nationalistic banner.

How big is Egypt's middle class again?

At 11/28/2005 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Egyptian Person said...


I think you are a little bit optimistic... it will still be a bad situation in both cases... whether the MB slowly gains power until it takes over the country, or even if the NDP remains in control.

Any way I will write my thoughts about this issue when the elections are over.

At 11/28/2005 09:03:00 AM, Blogger CMAR II said...

Here is why I think the MB is doing so well.
The NDP undermines free organizing and association of poltical parties. This is supposed to stop extremist Islamic parties like MB. But MB's goals can be promoted in mosques! The mosques are natural party organization centers for the MB, and the government can't touch them. So all the government crackdowns only hurt the development of secular parties.

Sooo...does that mean that the government will take its foot off of individual liberty and stop the enlargement of the MB? No way. The empowering of the MB actually helps the NDP, since
1) As you point out, there is no way anywhere close to a majority of the people are going to go with the MB.

2) The NDP can use the looming power of the MB to stay in control.

Soo..(I can't believe I'm saying this) I'm not optimistic about real democratic reform in Egypt in the short term. It is going to require that the democracy in Iraq be liberal and prosperous, in order to erode the credibility of the MB enough to make Egyptians feel safe about destablizing the national government.

Once again, it Iraq is the key, whether you are an Islamist or liberal democrat, to cutting the Gordian Knot of the Middle East.

At 11/28/2005 10:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know that your title is almost identical to Al-ahram Weekly's "Who's afraid of the Brotherhood?" 24 November issue:


At 11/28/2005 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a very good post SAM. It's because of posts like these that I prefer the blogosphere to the standard medias (especially the Arab ones).

At 11/28/2005 11:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To tell you the truth, I do think that Arab Islamists should take the power in an arab country, only to reveal their true nature. Look what happen to Iran, Iranian hate the Islamic Republic nowadays.

But Egypt is too big and too important to serve that purpose. Lebanon is a bad candidate because I live there :) . The oil states are also bad candidates because they are so rich that the economy could actually collapse.

Which leaves us with 1° Syria 2° Jordan

At 11/28/2005 01:55:00 PM, Blogger Highlander said...

Vox populi ..so you don't mind ruining Syria to have your 'experiment' right ?

SM ...'when you can't beat them join them ' he he he ;)- good post.

At 11/28/2005 02:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think that the doomy gloomy scenario of radicalized Egyptian nation with furious beard men chanting death to the west in state organized demonstrations filling public squares is highly unlikely. The whole world can not afford it and will stop any inclination of the Muslim brotherhood to this state of affair. I believe, or hope, that another positive scenario unfolds. This scenario is the modernisation and rationalization of the Muslim brotherhood movement as a whole. They will be put in front of serious real problems whose solutions become their duty and in their reach, at least theoretically. This task might, again hopefully, motivate the whole group to engage more with these real problems in the material world where their success are weighed against earthly tangible criteria. This might lead us to see one day a shadow economic minister of the MB group with a complete shadow budget of Egypt that people can discuss, presumably in the de facto centres of the MB movement i.e. mosques. I will be delighted when I see our national defence issues discussed after the Friday brayer instead of 3azab el qabr.

At 11/28/2005 04:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do mind experimenting on Syria, cause I know that it will turn bad and I don't want to have the talibans next door.

I only want one country turning bad so that the others are warned.

Jordan is definetely better. The more distant, the better :)

At 11/28/2005 06:05:00 PM, Blogger CMAR II said...

Vox Populi,

What is it that happenned in Iran and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan that didn't register with Arabs already?

At 11/29/2005 01:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to mention that you were quoted on BBC World Service radio (I think in Have Your Say - two sentences of this post from Finally... to ...people). You're getting famous;)

At 11/29/2005 05:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Iran is no good it's not arab. We need an Arab Talibanistan.

At 12/02/2005 05:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sandmonkey,

I like the way you think, and I love your web site, all of what I've seen of it so far. I've had it up to here with the media since a very long time ago , but was unaware of this thriving "blogosphere" (even the term is new to me) community, you and others seem to be doing a great job. Your ass should run for parliament!:-) (seriously!... but not now...wait till a real form of democracy takes shape.)

Anyway, I think the problem with the MB coming to power is that a great bulk of them don't believe in democracy as an acceptable concept, thinking it a "Western bid3a", whatever the hell that means. So once they come to power, I don't think they'd have any problem with overthrowing it altogether. So I don't think we should be too lenient about letting that happen before we have some kind of guarantee that the democratic system (when that exists hopefully in the future) will not be overthrown in this way. The Turkish model has some kind of military council of staunch secularists hovering over the democratic process as guardians, but I don't think this kind of cultural schizophrenia or split would be too appealing to us here, or even necessary...maybe you're right that we have reason to be optimistic, but we should also be careful about it.

Good luck with what you are doing, keep it up.

First time visitor.

At 12/10/2005 07:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And these are the kinds of comments put forth by the intelligensia in the Wiemar Republic in the 1930's. Lest we forget made significant gains in that election.

From a history text: "The biggest winner in these elections was Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party. From twelve seats in parliament they increased their seats to 107, becoming Germany's second largest political party. The largest party was still the Social Democrats, and this party won 143 seats and 24.5 percent of the vote. Communist Party candidates won 13.1 percent of the vote (roughly 50 times better than the U.S. Communist Party did in 1932 elections), and together the Social Democrats and the Communists were large enough to claim the right to make a government. But Communists and the Social Democrats remained hostile toward one another. The Comintern at this time was opposed to Communists working with reformers, and the Communists believed that a collapse of parliamentary government would hasten the revolutionary crisis that would propel them to power.
Instead of a left-of-center, socialist government, the president of the German republic, Hindenburg, selected Heinrich Brüning of the Catholic Center Party to form a government. This Party had received only 11.3 percent of the vote - less than the Communists. And Brüning did not have the majority parliamentary support needed to rule. As chancellor, Brüning ruled under Hindenburg's emergency powers. It was the beginning of the end of democracy in Germany, with Hindenburg willing to do anything but give the government back to the Socialists."

The Middle East has enough "Mad Mullahs". Before Democracy can be instituted, real cultural reform needs to take place. Fundamental rights, including the right of the individual, liberty, and social justice need to be implemented.

This is why Democracy has thrived in America and these principles were enacted before the yoke of tyranny and free elections were possible.

Democracy cannot exist in a society void of respect for oneself and others. Wholesale change is required.

At 1/29/2006 09:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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