July 3, 2013

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

In Egypt, Democrats vs. Liberals (SAMER S. SHEHATA, 7/03/13, NY Times)

Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsi's Islamist movement, accepts -- indeed excels at -- electoral competition. Voters in 2012 gave it a far stronger grip on power than poll numbers had suggested. But that was foreseeable: though outlawed, the group built an effective political machine, starting in the 1980s, as individual members ran (as independents) in legislative and professional labor-union elections, even though Mr. Mubarak always found artifices to deny them real power.

Fair elections have improved the Brotherhood's campaign skills. But it hasn't fully committed to pluralism or to equal rights for minorities. It participates in democracy, but doesn't want to share power.

Many in the opposition, on the other hand, believe fiercely in minority rights, personal freedoms, civil liberties and electoral coalition-building -- as long as the elections keep Islamists out of power. In other words, they are liberal without being democrats; they are clamoring fervently for Mr. Morsi's ouster and want the military to intervene. But they have proved themselves woefully unequipped to organize voters. Though my heart is with their democratic goals, I must admit that their commitment to democratic principles runs skin deep.


Posted by at July 3, 2013 5:38 AM
  
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