On July 8 activist groups and parties in Egypt began a weeks-long sit-in, re-occupying Tahrir Square, seeking justice for those killed in the revolution, and pushing for swifter prosecution of officials from the deposed regime of Hosni Mubarak. After showing up for part of the first day, the Muslim Brotherhood and the new Salafi parties were conspicuously absent from the sit-in, adding to the growing rift between secular activists and Egyptian religious conservatives. Activists believe that the Brotherhood has constructed an ad-hoc alliance with the transitional military government, in return for the preservation of the military’s long-standing extra-constitutional prerogatives.
The fears of liberal and secular activists are hardly assuaged by the perceived popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), widely expected to garner a plurality of seats in the coming parliamentary elections. The FJP is the Brotherhood’s newly-legalized political party, which was approved shortly after the revolution. Until now Brotherhood candidates were forced to run for parliament as independents, and they were denied the opportunity to form a political party. The Salafis’ Nour Party is also a new beneficiary of Egypt’s relaxed laws regarding political parties. The late-spring mayhem in Imbaba, the working class area of Cairo in which three churches were burned and 15 people killed in sectarian clashes widely attributed to Salafi provocations did nothing to give Egyptians confidence in the Islamists. Continue reading “David M. Faris – Revolution before Politics in Egypt”