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If I was Egyptian, I would vote for Al-Banna's successor

January 25, 2014 at 4:10 am

Everyone is waiting anxiously for the outcome of the first round of the Egyptian presidential election. It might be a decisive vote in terms of such elections in Egypt; if one of the candidates receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, he will be President. So who will be the lucky one to take his seat in the presidential office?

An arguably more important question is whether Egypt will be able to repeat this democratic experience – the first of its kind in modern history – when the new president’s first term expires. I believe that it will; the Egyptian people who overthrew the biggest of tyrants are the same people who rid Egypt of Western occupation, strived to defend the dignity of their country against aggressors, and did not keep quiet about the corruption of their rulers. They look forward to a wise, conscious and honest leadership which can solve their problems, move the country to safety and compensate the people for all they’ve been deprived of over the past few decades.

Today, the Egyptians seek to exercise their freedom, become independent and develop self-rule through the ballot box. This is where new Islamic influences have surfaced with reform and development plans capable, they believe, of overcoming the country’s crises, even in the long term. Perhaps the most important of these influences is the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party. The Brotherhood has a long history of solidarity, social security and addressing poverty and destitution and using religious tax funds for such purposes. It’s members are the successors of the organisation’s legendary founder, the martyr Hassan Al-Banna.

The Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, Dr. Mohamed Morsi, therefore, carries the greatest weight in Egyptian society. Its cadres and leaders are capable of moving Egypt in a few years from the ranks of poor and powerless countries to a real international player able to benefit from the experiences of other countries such as Brazil and Turkey; and all in the interests of Egypt’s citizens.

I think that the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the presidential election is based on solid political reasoning. The organisation does not want to leave matters to the remnants of the previous regime which exhausted the people with poverty and unemployment, and plundered the resources of the country. That is one aspect. In addition, the Brotherhood is not satisfied with the Ganzouri government and Egypt’s current military rulers who are using the same approach as the previous regime and not giving any attention to the elected parliament. It is true that the group was initially hesitant about joining the Presidential race, which weakened its position in voters’ eyes. This is because of the Brotherhood’s fear of a monopoly on power; it is not related to external policy or any fear of sanctions from abroad if its candidate wins. The organisation only has to look at neighbouring Gaza to see what happened to Hamas which won the 2006 Palestinian election, although there is no comparison between the two cases. Circumstances in the Arab Republic of Egypt are different to the situation in Palestine for a number of reasons, including the ongoing Israeli occupation, the political split amongst Palestinians and the resultant double government, and the lack of dependable resources in Gaza. In addition, we have seen the international conditions linked to financial assistance, etc., which have all played a direct role in strengthening the blockade against the Palestinian people.

Hence, when we talk about the Brotherhood and its candidate Dr Morsi, we are talking about the Renaissance plan, which took 15 years to be developed by more than a thousand experts in all areas of life, and which is based on active participants in Egyptian society, represented across state institutions, civil society and the private sector. In order to achieve the desired balance between the three areas, the plan puts reform mechanisms into both strategic and operational levels which contain specific groups of plans, reforms and operational policies. These are divided into three phases as a first step on the road to renaissance and development which is represented in building the political system, then shifting to economic development, community empowerment, overall human development and building a strong security system. Leadership in foreign affairs and other issues, such as women’s empowerment, the independence of Al-Azhar University, minority rights (especially the Copts) and the protection of the environment are all included in the plan.

Nobody can devalue the Muslim Brotherhood due to its contribution to society, value, political clout, strength and influence in Egypt. It represents a wide segment of the Egyptian people across religious, social and political levels and maintains good relations with all Egyptian parties as well as regional and international bodies. It also has the most seats in the People’s Assembly and Shura Council (Parliament), so it is bearer of decision-making and legislative ability; it’s quite supporters trust its ability to affect change and improve the living conditions of ordinary Egyptians. The Brotherhood is also in receipt of a lot of support from the Arab and Islamic Spring in neighbouring countries led by Islamists; on Arab and Islamic issues it has never sided with one party against another. The main external causes for Brotherhood support are mainly Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. For all of these reasons, I believe that Dr. Mohamed Morsi is the most suitable candidate for the Egyptian presidency.

*The author is a Palestinian writer

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.