Welcome to the “Islamic awakening” in Egypt

Published: June 28, 2012

PHOTO: REUTERS

In a bid to save Egypt from further turmoil, the results of the final runoff vote for the presidential poll were declared in favour of Mohamed Mursi Eissa al-Ayat, of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mursi won with 13,230,131 votes against Shafiq’s 12,347,380. The election, in which more than 50 million voters were eligible to cast their ballot, saw a 51.8% turnout.

For quite some time there was a deadlock between the two candidates with the world media hinting towards further chaos in the country. The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters were accusing the military establishment for holding off the results in a bid to defeat Mursi and support Shafiq ─  something the West, especially the US and its close ally Israel, were hoping for.

As soon as the news of Mursi’s victory went out, Tahrir Square went haywire with Brotherhood’s supporters celebrating joyously. The world news forums ─ be it social or electronic ─ termed the victory as the dawn of an Islamic awakening in Egypt.

One of the major focal points of this poll were Egypt’s bilateral ties with Israel.

With Mursi as the new president, Israel fears that the already delicate relations may further corrode as the Muslim Brotherhood has already hinted towards a shift in its foreign policy. The Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, however has expressed that his country respects the Egyptian poll results and looks forward to working with Mursi’s administration.

“I believe that peace is the fundamental pillar of stability in our region,” he said.

However, last year he warned against Egypt’s revolution stating that it could help the Islamic radicals, pointing towards the Brotherhood coming into power.

As for the common population of Egyptians, the opinion seems to split amongst supporters of both Mursi and Shafiq. Egyptians on the left, supporting Shafiq, hold the opinion that the Muslim Brotherhood will take the country many centuries back as the implementation of religious codes will not sync up with the moderate Egyptian ideology.

On the other hand, the right wing supporters are trying to clear the misconceptions hovering over the Brotherhood and its ideals. They say that it is the only party that respects and treats women and the minorities equally, citing the example of Muslim Brotherhood’s Vice President, Rafiq Habib, who is a Christian by faith.

The US lawmakers have shown both hope and worry regarding the transition in Cairo. The concern that they hold is of the staunch Islamic nature of the new ruling party. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said,

This new Egyptian government can go either way. It can be open to the ideas of others. It can work to develop a vibrant economy for the people, jobs for this very young country with so many young people.  Or it can turn inward into Sharia law and a much more fundamentalist Muslim country. And that is the worry.

Some political and social analysts around Egypt and the Middle East believe that this change will not bring a positive change to the country. Sarah Jamal, an international politics researcher and analyst in Tunisia, believes that even though the Brotherhood has won the poll, it will be hard for them to go against military establishment which maintains allegiance towards Israel.

On the foreign relations front, most of the progressive Asian states have welcomed Mursi’s election, especially Russia, Iran and China. A statement issued by the Kremlin said that,

The Russian president hopes to strengthen Egypt-Russia relationship in all fields and ensure peace and stability in the Middle East.

Chinese President Hu Jintao congratulated Mohamed Mursi for his victory in Egypt’s presidential election, saying that Beijing respected the choice of Egyptian people.

On a positive note, the Muslim Brotherhood has made their stance clear regarding Iran as well. Mursi has announced that he will be looking towards improving Egypt’s relations with Tehran; something which Cairo’s allies were least expecting from him.

The situation in Pakistan regarding the Brotherhood’s win is no different.

Pakistani newspapers have hailed Mohammed Mursi’s presidential victory and have stated that his success is a positive sign for Muslim democracies all around the world. Furthermore The Express Tribune analysed the event in a pragmatic manner.

Just because Mursi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, it does not warrant that he will turn Egypt into an Islamic state.

Religious parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami, celebrated the victory with great zeal too. Chances are, Pakistan may develop good bilateral ties with the new government in office.

What cannot be disregarded is that when a president wins by a mere margin of 800,000 votes, the degree of the divide among the citizens of the state becomes prominent. This may also give a whisker of a chance to the army elite for laying enough traps against the newly elected Mursi administration. This is something the new government should not overlook even in the slightest.

Egypt may seem to be heading towards copious relations with other Muslim countries with this new development in the state. It will be interesting though to witness as to how the democratically elected government will detox three decades of military influence in running the state affairs.

On a side note, for all those who may weary of the name ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, which is said to be a fundamental religious party, they have announced to give a good share of representation in the government to the minorities and women.

Read more by Farooq here or follow him on Twitter @faruqyusaf

Farooq Yousaf

Farooq Yousaf

A research analyst, programme consultant and content editor at the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad, along with pursuing his Research Studies in Public Policy from Germany. He tweets as @faruqyusaf (twitter.com/faruqyusaf)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anon..

    I think if Egypt follows in the footsteps of Turkey, it can show that even Islamist parties are capable of great progress, economic achievements and democracy. If the events in Middle east have shown anything, most of the cruel dictators come from secular backgrounds, and are equally capable of oppressing the population and depriving them of righsRecommend

  • Adnan

    very well summed up by the author “‘Muslim Brotherhood’, which is said to be a fundamental religious party, they have announced to give a good share of representation in the government to the minorities and women”Recommend

  • Ordinary Villager

    @Anon..:
    If the The time Pakistanis spent to connect religion with success if this same time will be consumed to end this religious bias that Human being can learn from anyone then Muslims can only progress. It is my request to Pakistanis that stop these rationales of Religion to bring into Democracy. I lived in Turkey and I have more Turkish friends than Pakistanis and believe me Turkish are Secular and their Islam is different than Pakistani Islam. Same is the case with Egypt. In Egypt just like Turkey you have bars and Mosques at the same time. You have night clubs and religious centers even on the same street. Can you even imagine in Pakistan like this ?????. Please stop comparing yourself to other countries. In front of Pakistani Muslims Turkish Muslims are Atheists but I like them as their Approach is much broadened by Mustafa Kamal. The day Jamaat Islami will come into Power or even Imran Khan in my view it will be last nail in the coffin of Existence of Pakistan and in coming years we will be New Somalia or Yemen.Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    @Ordinary Villager: Spot on! Tell me about it.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/britpak Mohammed Abbasi

    Congratulations to the the New President of Egypt and may the Egyptian people move forward as a people finally towards a better, representative society which puts the nations and peoples interests first and not the American Southern Baptists!

    Mohammed Abbasi
    Association of British MuslimsRecommend

  • Modazul

    @Ordinary Villager
    You are a typical liberal extremist who has a narrow mind. Stop with these stereotypes against Islam. I don’t understand how on earth does having bars and mosques close to each other and people wearing skimpy clothing help a country achieve progress and economic development. Such things are unnecessary for success. Progress and success only needs hardwork, knowledge, system of justice n equality, and peace. Not immorality and bars and alcohol. These things destroy societies.Recommend

  • Hi :)

    @Modazul:
    You my friend could do with a cold a frothy beer ;)Recommend

  • Ordinary Villager

    @Modazul: My dear friend It was an example which i saw in those countries. I am more conservative than you but i learnt religion from those people who really broadened my thinking and also my time in Europe and with people of other countries really shaped my life.I I am not discussing religion or cursing anyone but I invite you someday to visit Turkey and see for yourself what they are and then compare it with Pakistan. Pakistan can never imitate Turkey and even Egypt. I dont want to argue at all but all I am saying that let the people live they want to live and that is the formula being adopted in those countries. Let the religion be the matter between you and your Allah. You are not answerable for me and I am not answerable for you and that is the end of the story. Also please dont hate anyone on the basis of what they wear or what religion they have. If someone is drinking Alcohol or smoking weed but he is nice to me then i will be nicer to that person and I will not predetermine his attitude based on that… Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Ordinary Villager:
    Excellent comment. Correlation is not causation – it is good that Turks and Egyptians can practise their religion unfettered, but the assumption that Turkey’s economic success is connected with a more visible form of religion is rather unrealistic, and rather typical of rightwing propaganda. Turkey was blessed with forward looking leadership like Mustafa Kemal and has managed to take advantage of its proximity to Europe to become both economically vibrant and tolerant, and has leveraged IMF programmes to set its house in order – something that Pakistan did not do because of misplaced priorities. I also think that it makes sense for Islamists to come to power in a democratic setting because its brings an element of realism that can either prove or disprove previous rhetoric, and may also moderate their thinking. Same goes for Imran Khan.Recommend

  • manish

    @Modazul:

    wearing skimpy cloths do not bring developments, true.. but absence of people rioting against those wearing skimpy clothes, does mean a progressive society where ‘divergent views’ are tolerated………and this is an essential constituent required for progress.Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    Mr. Farroukh Yusuf wrote a school boyish essay on an important topic.Recommend

  • Mj

    @Author
    “On the foreign relations front, most of the progressive Asian states have welcomed Mursi’s election, especially Russia, Iran and China.”

    These three do not belong in the list of progressive Asian states. They’re oppressive, despotic, and have terrible human rights record. Otherwise, a good article with nuanced approach.Recommend

  • AAhmed

    @Modazul:
    It is called freedom of opinion and existence.Recommend

  • elementary

    @Modazul:
    These things represent freedom of thought and expression and freechoice which is absolutely essential for any kind of progress and prosperity.
    when you make freedom of thought and expression conditional and aim to impose a certain code of morality,that’s where society becomes retrogressive.
    Point is you don’t force any one, it’s his free choice if he wishes to go to mosque or a pub.Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist

    Congratulations Egypt. With the muslim brotherhood at the helm, you can turn your country into a Pakistan. Like Zia did to Pakistan.Recommend

  • FU

    @Modazul So according to you countries like Sweden,Norway,Germany,Denmark should have been destroyed, since they have bars where alcohol is consumed by people as if its water,
    Marijuana legalized and even prostitution encouraged as a profession. But its exact opposite those countries are one of the successful societies where there is least or nil corruption,ranking top 10 in scientific research,most number of noble prizes in Science,literature,Economics.Talking about Justice,rule of law is supreme in this countries,equal rights to men and women,lowest crime rates in the world.Given a chance all Pakistanis would queue up in front this immoral countries embassies to take next flight out of moral Pakistan.Why are these immoral countries successful in almost every field? Ask yourself why instead of seeing everything in religious prism. Recommend

  • muhammad maaz

    Assalam alaikum
    Heartly congratulations to the muslim brotherhood on their remarkable victory and i hope that egypt will now flourish under leadership and u people will be a role model for all other islamic countries.
    And my dear so called liberals islam will soon rule the world and will free world from the oppression. So mind ur own business and keep ur mouth shut!! Recommend

  • Vikram

    Good now Muslim brotherhood is in power they can make a law about breastfeeding co-workers.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6681511.stm

    Breastfeeding fatwa

    One of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institutions is to discipline a cleric after he issued a decree allowing women to breastfeed their male colleagues.Dr Izzat Atiya of Egypt’s al-Azhar University said it offered a way around segregation of the sexes at work.

    His fatwa stated the act would make the man symbolically related to the woman and preclude any sexual relationsRecommend

  • Vikram

    I am waiting for Islamic awakening in Pakistan. I guess Afghanistan already had one “talibanic awakening”. Recommend

  • Kaalchakra

    Taqbir!Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The take over by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is the beginning of the Reanaissance in the Isamic world and is likely to lead the Aufklarung of Islam! Mohammad Mursi, the Engineer with a PhD from the USA, has a long way before him. He must snatch back the power from the military, as well as restoration of the elected Parliament. His actions are going to be monitored against the commitments he made to the people of Egypt.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • hassan

    Generally, Islamic awakening means, not the progressive way forward, but, the retrograde moves back. To the rest of the world, the term ‘islamic awakening’ would signal alarm, because, it generally means:

    1.) Strident pious calls for having more beards (preferably dyed) in public. Public opinion will be molded in such a way to make everyone feel if you don’t have a beard, then you are not pious, and you are westernized too much.

    2.) There will be huge societal pressure to force burqa on women. Due to subliminal influence, many women have started to believe that women are wearing burqa/hijab out of choice and not out of compulsion. Subtle mental conditioning will begin to make society believe that a woman not wearing hijab may not be virtuous at all.

    3.) There will be questions on why girls should go to schools at all. Nature made them to bear babies and it is their job to support men who are trying to protect the country against immoral westerners.

    4.) More and more strident calls to eliminate Israel. This is a crucial part of Islamic awakening. Several decades back, Iran had a bout with Islamic awakening. And it has not made the world a better place.

    Islamic awakening means the freedom not to question, the freedom not to think, and the freedom to believe in your supremacy. Egyptians have been fighting for this, and now they have got it ! Long Live Islamic Awakening !Recommend

  • DR HASNAIN

    I WISH HOPE AND PRAY FOR IT SUCCESS IN FUTURE INSHA ALLAH AMEEN.Recommend

  • raw is war

    @Modazul

    you will be the first in line to settle in these countries, if given a chance. This week, more than 20 pakistanis drowned off the coast of Australia while entering the country illegally. What a shame.Recommend

  • Rashid

    @Ordinary Villager
    I have met Turks also. Let me tell you Turkey is not Islamic. Islam has been diluted so much. Islam only survives near borders or town cities like Konya. Kemal Ataturk was brutal dictator who killed millions and brainwashed Turks. Mosques are tightly controlled by the state. The intelligence service is huge. Many Turks are so brainwashed that they will voluntarily report on foreigners and their activities as I found out. Any criticism of Kemal Ataturk will be swiftly and brutally suppressed.
    I hope ET will not censor this.Recommend

  • The Truth

    @Modazul…. You are spot on in you comment.

    @raw is war… It is just your thinking and speculation that we would like to settle in those countries.. I am in leaving in KSA since two and half years. Here my Islamic beliefs are getting stronger day by day, and with the grace of Allah I am earning more than anyone leaving in Australia , Canada or any place else.

    Why would we desire to settle in those countries.

    But I think ET has more liberals than conservative people.Recommend