Egypt’s opposition needs to start playing politics

How will Egypt's opposition face the coming challenges?

A voter casts her ballot during the constitutional referendum

 

Another thoughtful piece from The Economist on Egypt’s constitutional woes.

The magazine notes the low turnout in the first round of last week’s referendum, and cautions the Muslim Brotherhood against reacting to their apparently waning support by seeking an ever tighter grip on power.

But there are also stern words for the National Salvation Front, the country’s main opposition group:

“The opposition, for its part, should start relying more on negotiation and less on demonstration. Street protests were a force for good before democracy prevailed—they toppled Mr Mubarak, after all—but if they become a routine way to change the law and remove governments, then Egypt will never learn how to reconcile interests and settle disputes through everyday politics.”

“The non-Islamist opposition, which is coming together for the first time in a broad front, should concentrate on preparing for the imminent general election. To compete with Islamists at a local level, they must start tackling the urgent bread-and-butter concerns of poor people.”

It has been a criticism routinely leveled at Egypt’s liberal, secular and leftist opposition since the toppling of Mubarak – that they are out of touch with the concerns of ‘ordinary voters’.

With fresh parliamentary elections rapidly approaching, the Economist argues that now is the time to start undermining that unhelpful perception.

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Inside Egypt’s Salafists

Islamists rallying last month In Egypt

Islamists rallying last month In Egypt

 

For those with enough time on their hands, here is an in depth look at Egypt’s fundamentalist Salafi movements.

Written by Stephane Lacroix, an expert on the subject, it examines the electoral success of hardline Islamists and offers some context about the history of Al Nour, the main Salafi party in Egypt.

Given the religious divisions creating fissures at the ballot box, it makes for a fascinating read.

Egypt’s constitutional conundrum

Members of the assembly which drafted the new constitution

Members of the assembly which drafted the new constitution

 

Somewhat belatedly, here is a lucid, even-handed account of the crisis surrounding Egypt’s constitution – from the seemingly omnipresent Nathan Brown.

He questions whether Egypt’s fragile institutions are ready for the majoritarian democratic principles of the Muslim Brotherhood, though suggests that many among the liberal opposition have not always acted in good faith during their dealings with Egypt’s Islamists.

“The Islamists have pressed ahead,” he writes, “willing to throw some concessions to their rivals but not enough to truly bring them along. Even had [they] been willing to give more, it is not clear that there was any good-faith bargain to be had, since some members of the opposition have simply rejected earlier electoral outcomes as “unrepresentative.”

A detailed analysis of the problems which have been thrown up over the past few weeks.

The Muslim Brotherhood: A “glorified soup kitchen with Hitler powers”

Morsi_Hitler

Is Mohamed Morsi morphing into a dictator?

 

Egypt has a complicated past when it comes to the Nazis.

When the British were fighting to keep Rommel from seizing the Suez Canal – and with it their gateway to India – many Egyptians were praying for a German victory.

Understandably, their enemy’s enemy was a welcome friend – even if he did have a dodgy moustache and some  questionable views on race relations.

In this article on the current political mess, Cairo-based reporter Sarah Carr argues that Mohamed Morsi has now acquired “Hitler powers” following his recent presidential decree.

A personalised account of her thoughts on the situation, she says Morsi’s recent actions have made her agonise over whether she was right to vote for him in the summer run-off.

“The thought that I may have contributed to voting in this avuncular yet megalomaniac individual backed up by an army of devotees is an uncomfortable feeling to say the least,” she says. “And the word “Ermächtigungsgesetz” (a law passed in 1933 that made Hitler a dictator) keeps flashing before my eyes.”

Hopefully any similarities between Morsi and Hitler will prove to be short-lived.

There has been plenty of speculation about the direction in which Egypt is heading, but the road to Nuremburg is perhaps not the most desirable.

 

 

Egypt’s biggest satirist on why he still considers himself an outsider

 

A few clips from an interview with Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian talk show host who is often – perhaps too often – compared to American comedian Jon Stewart.

Youssef found fame after the Egyptian uprising when he posted a series of amateur skits on YouTube which eventually attracted millions of viewers.

He is currently in the process of launching a new series of his hit show Al Bernameg – but despite the fame he has achieved across the Middle East, he remains a wonderfully humble man.