- November 11, 2005
- 9 minutes read
MB, the Dark Horse of 2005 Parliamentary Election
The Muslim Brotherhood is the Dark Horse of 2005 Parliamentary Election
By Muhammad Gamal Arafa
The Moslem Brotherhood becomes the ’dark horse’ in the Egyptian elections, though it is considered by the government as ’a banned political movement’, after being deprived from the legal recognition in 1948. Many of the Egyptian opposing powers did not come to the parliament unless by making an alliance with the Moslem Brotherhood. For example, el-Wafd Party had come to the parliament, in 1984, and had become the leading opposing power after forming a coalition with the MB. Later, on 1987, the same situation recurred when el-Amal and el-A’hrar parties have jointed the MB in the ’Islamic alliance’, under the well-known slogan ’Islam is the remedy’. Accordingly, this coalition has retained the leadership of the Egyptian opposition.
Since its foundation by Hassen el-Bana, the Moslem Brotherhood has regarded the parliament as the threshold of attaining its targets. Therefore, el-Bana has run for the parliamentary election of 1938 and 1942, along with 17 MB members.
However, the ruling el-Wafd government of that time has tried to persuade el-Bana to stand aside, as his candidacy would have been provocative for the king and England, at the time of the English occupation of Egypt. As a result, he has abandoned the election in return of winking at the preaching activities of the movement.
Nevertheless, the Moslem Brotherhood has decided to appoint some members, el-Bana on the top, to run for the election of 1944 but the king and England hindered them.
The growing influence of the movement, after directing the fight in Palestine against Israel in 1948, the Egyptian government has decreed, under the pressure of England, to dissolve the Moslem Brotherhood in Des.1948. In addition, dozens of the MB fighters have been arrested, upon their return from Palestine. In Fep.1949, the founder of the movement, Hassen el-Bana, has been assassinated. In Oct.1951, Hassen el-Hadeeby has become el-Bana’s successor.
The Moslem Brotherhood and 1952 Revolution
Due to the support of the movement to the free officers, who have performed the revolution, the leadership of the Revolution has been eager to be grateful for the Moslem Brotherhood. So the movement has been exempted from the decree of dissolution of parties and associations, issued on Jen.16th, 1953. Yet, differences have flamed between the two sides for many reasons, among them the refusal of the Revolution leadership to reinstate the parliamentary and political life and to end the military rule of the country. Subsequently, a decree to dissolve the Moslem Brotherhood has been passed on Jen.13th, 1954. In addition, more than one thousand of its members have been detained. Besides, 50 of the leading figures of the movement have been triad and sentenced to death. This ruling has been lessened for 46 persons, among them the Supreme Guide, while other six have been executed, among them Abdel Qader Oda and Muhammad Farkhly. Other members have been sentenced to death such as Said Qodp, according to other trials.
Since 1952 till the death of Abdel Nasser, the late Egyptian president, in 1970, the Socialist Union has been the ruling political power in Egypt. The detention of the Moslem Brotherhood has lasted till the President Muhammad el-Sadat has come to power. Upon Oct. Egyptian victory over Israel, in 1973, and the conclusion of Camp David Treaty between the two sides, el-Sadat has tried gradually to reconcile the Moslem Brotherhood. He also has token measures to restore the multi-party system, after its determination in 1952.
In 1971, el-Sadat has decreed to release 118 prisoners of the Moslem Brotherhood. In 1976, the Moslem Brotherhood’s magazine, el-Da’oa has been permitted to be issued. He, in addition, has given much freedom to the third Supreme Guide of the Moslem Brotherhood, Omar el-Talemesany. However, el-Sadat has refused to admit the Moslem Brotherhood as a legally political movement. Yet, disaccord has erupted between the movement and el-Sadat.
In Sep.1981, el-Sadat has ordered to arrest the leaders of the MB, just like the leaders of other political parties. Then, he has been assassinated, on Oct.6th, 1984. Muhammad Hossny Mubark, el-Sadat’s vice, came to presidency and started to set the political detainees free. In 1984, Egypt witnessed the first real multi election, in which the Moslem Brotherhood returned to the political sphere.
The Moslem Brotherhood and the Elections
In 1970s, the MB did not participate in the parliamentary elections of 1976 and 1979. However, in 1976, Slah Abu Ismail won in the election as independent. In 1979, he won also along with Hassen el-Gamal; who were influential in drafting the second article of the Egyptian constitution, which stipulates that Islam is the source of legislation.
The election of 1984 is regarded as the first election in which the Moslem Brotherhood contested. In this election, the Moslem Brotherhood, allying with el-Wafd Party, obtained 51.1% of votes. Thus, the Moslem Brotherhood occupied the third rank, after the National Democratic Party and el-Wafd, as regards the number of the parliament representatives.
In the parliamentary election of 1987, the Moslem Brotherhood, in alliance with el-Amal and el-A’hrar parties, got 17.4% of votes, 1163525 votes out of seven millions. The Moslem Brotherhood won 37 parliament seats, out of 454 representatives, ten of them are appointed. Accordingly, the movement came to the second place, following the NDP, regarding the number of votes and representatives.
The outcome of 1984 and 1987 elections drew the attention of the government to the growing presence of the MB in parliament. The MB representatives caused problems to the government via their critical questionnaires. The Moslem Brotherhood refrained to run for the election of 1990. The Moslem Brotherhood 150 candidates were defeated in the election of 1995, due to security tough measures, 82 of the MB nominees were court-martialled, for instance. In the election of 2000, 17 MB candidates, won, 3.7% of the parliament.
The growing power of the Moslem Brotherhood increased the government’s concern, especially after the sweeping victory of the movement in syndicated elections. They won engineering syndicate in 1985, physicians syndicate in 1986, pharmacologists’ syndicate in 1988, and teachers’ syndicate in 1989.
The period of 1995 up till now witnesses a sort of strong battle between the Moslem Brotherhood and the government, due to the apparently increasing influence of the movement that coincides with waning presence of the other political parties. 80 members of the MB were court-martialled, 61 of them were sent to prisons.
Reform-demanding demonstrations, arranged by the movement in March 2005, in which 100.000 demonstrators toke place, inflamed the crisis. In addition, the movement has organized an earlier million-attended demonstration to protest the US-led war on Iraq, in March 2003.
Although these reform-demanding demonstrations lead to the detention of more than 2000 MB members, they speeded up the political activity, which was boosted by foreign pressures. This political revival produced the constitutional amendment, which suggests the first multi-candidate presidential election in Egypt. The old slogans of the movement, which disappeared, start to pop out. The MB candidates arrange their electoral propaganda making marshes, in which the movement’s slogan and name chanted. However, the Movement is still officially banned.
Being a banned movement, some governmental and liberal sides tried to tighten the MB activities and influence, by claiming that the movement’s slogan contradicts the election law, by linking the MB candidate to the riot, provoked over the Christian play that disrespects Islam, for example.
The Future of the Moslem Brotherhood
The ineffectiveness of the Egyptian parties paves the way before the Moslem Brotherhood to be the most operative political power. It becomes the most competitive rival for the ruling National Democratic Party.
However, it is explicitly remarkable that the movement does not rush to widen its influence and its activities. For instance, it did not appointed a large number of candidates to run for the parliamentary election of 2005. It nominated only 150 candidates, a number that equals one-thirds of the parliament.
It seems that the Moslem Brotherhood does not seek to provoke the National Democratic Party or to give an impression of trying to replace it. The Moslem Brotherhood just attempts to enlarge its political role in order to force the government to admit its legality.