January 28, 2012

03RNS: Egypt: Islamists Win Majority of Parliament

 EGYPT: Islamists Win Majority
of Parliament

BY Staff                                                                                                                        ©2012 Baptist Press

Islamists, propelled largely by the Muslim Brotherhood, won the overwhelming majority of seats in Egypt's parliament, which held its first session Jan. 23 and is set to elect a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.

The "mainstream" Brotherhood won about 47 percent of the seats, and an alliance of ultraconservative Islamists known as the Salafis gained another 25 percent, The New York Times reported.

For most of its 84-year history, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and most organized political group, had been banned from political participation, but that changed last spring with the revolt that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

The young leaders who began the revolt won only a few percent of the seats in parliament.

Islamic moral issues, such as the consumption of alcohol, women's dress and the content of popular culture, are of utmost importance to the Salafis, The Times said, noting the Salafis and the Brotherhood seem to be rivals more than collaborators.

The Hudson Institute's Nina Shea, a religious freedom expert, wrote, "Egypt's Islamist landslide is likely to result in the attempt to coerce -- through lawful and/or extra-judicial punishments -- apostasy and blasphemy codes, which protect from criticism anything and anyone claiming to be Islamic, including quite likely criticism of the Islamist parliamentarians and governmental leaders themselves."

In an Islamist-controlled Egypt, Shea said, "punishments could be meted out to those who dissent from proposals or de facto efforts to revoke women's rights or equal citizenship rights for Coptic Christians or to establish religious police, enforce sharia law or screen political candidates for religious correctness -- all real examples from other countries.  

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