Early election results indicate the Muslim Brotherhood is doing well in Egypt:
The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as sinful and reject women’s participation in voting or public life.
Analysts in the state-run news media said early returns indicated that Salafi groups could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups of Islamists combined control of nearly 65 percent of the parliamentary seats.
That victory came at the expense of the liberal parties and youth activists who set off the revolution, affirming their fears that they would be unable to compete with Islamists who emerged from the Mubarak years organized and with an established following.
Anyone—anyone—with even a smattering of historical knowledge going back to Iran in 1979, and knowledge of the history of Egypt and the influence of the Brotherhood there, should have had no trouble whatsoever predicting this. It is simplicity itself. The only real question (and that question remains a question) is how far they will go and how restrictive and Islamist Egypt will become. There is no question, however, that a sizable and powerful percentage of those in charge of Egypt would like it to go very very far and become very very Islamist.
And yes, I know that Iran is overwhelmingly Shi’ite and Egypt overwhelmingly Sunni and that the two branches have some differences. But I also am aware of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it’s not a pretty one.
I claim no special prescience here in having predicted this from the very moment I heard Mubarak might be in trouble, and in harping on it thereafter. It took no particular insight to see it.
Here is the very first article I wrote on the subject, back in January of 2011, in which I said:
I have been concerned from the start about the possible influence and popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood [in Egypt], a currently-banned Islamist fundamentalist group that has its roots in Egypt in the earlier part of the twentieth century. And here’s some background on the position of El Baradei, who might (accent on the “might”) be in a position to take charge in a while.
The Egyptian people are protesting in favor of democracy. As a person who remembers the turmoil of the Iranian revolution of 1979—the different groups temporarily united for the Shah’s overthrow and then jockeying for position (vainly) against the fundamentalist Islamists who quickly established their dominance—I have to say the situation makes me nervous.
I still don’t know how the situation could have been improved, however. It’s the same old question: do we support repressive dictators or encourage democracy in countries that are unready, unwilling, or unable to guarantee liberty and human rights for their citizens, and who are likely to democratically vote in governments that could be worse than the dictatorships they replace, both for us and for their own citizens? I’ve written tons on that subject, too (see the category “neocons” in the right sidebar, and especially this 2-part series). Feel free to weigh in.