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Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood advancing Pro-Business Agenda

Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Get­tin’ It On

COMMENT: Although the Egypt­ian polit­i­cal scene remains in flux, with the elec­tions being delayed (as request­ed by many sec­u­lar inter­ests involved in the over­throw of Mubarak), the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is advanc­ing its cor­po­ratist agen­da. Recall that the Broth­er­hood’s eco­nom­ic the­o­reti­cian–the 14th cen­tu­ry thinker Ibn Khal­dun–is regard­ed by the World Bank as the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion.

In the For The Record series about Wik­iLeaks and the Pig­gy-Back Coups (the “Arab Spring”), the hypoth­e­sis was advanced that, when the pin­balls stopped bounc­ing around in the Mid­dle East, the Broth­er­hood would emerge tri­umphant in the long run. (It may be that their ascent will take place after the fail­ure of a sec­u­lar democ­ra­cy, impaled on the rocks of run­away food prices and glob­al eco­nom­ic tur­moil.)

So far, the Egypt­ian Broth­er­hood is right on cue.

“Egypt Broth­er­hood Courts Investors with Pro-Busi­ness Stance” by Mari­am Fam and Stan­ley Reed; Bloomberg News; 7/8/2011.

EXCERPT: Only a few months ago, Khairat El- shater was lan­guish­ing in an Egypt­ian prison, put there by the Hos­ni Mubarak regime. Many of his busi­ness­es were shut­tered.

Now the deputy gen­er­al guide, or No. 2 leader, of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, Egypt’s dom­i­nant polit­i­cal-Islam­ic group, El-shater shut­tles between meet­ings at one of his once-closed offices in a grimy build­ing in Cairo’s Nasr City dis­trict. His vis­i­tors include bankers and investors from the U.S. to Aus­tralia, Bloomberg Busi­ness­week reports in its July 11 edi­tion.

“They all have many ques­tions about one issue: What impact will the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood have on the invest­ment cli­mate?” said El-shater, 61.

Found­ed in Egypt in 1928, the Broth­er­hood has helped spawn Islam­ic groups across the globe, includ­ing the mil­i­tant Pales­tin­ian move­ment Hamas. The Brotherhood’s founder, Has­san al-Ban­na, preached the adop­tion of Islam­ic law as the way to lift the yoke of West­ern dom­i­na­tion. Because of its pop­u­lar appeal and occa­sion­al­ly vio­lent tac­tics, the group came into con­flict with sec­u­lar Arab states such as Syr­ia and Egypt, where the Broth­ers were per­se­cut­ed inter­mit­tent­ly from the 1950s until this year’s region­al upris­ings known as the Arab Spring. The Egypt­ian Broth­er­hood has long since dis­avowed vio­lence.

Ana­lysts say the Brotherhood’s Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty may well emerge as a pow­er in the Egypt­ian Par­lia­ment once elec­tions are held. The par­ty said it won’t field a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date or seek more than half of Parliament’s seats. . . .

Discussion

7 comments for “Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood advancing Pro-Business Agenda”

  1. Nice job as usu­al, Dave. BTW, are you going to try look­ing into the attacks in Nor­way some­time soon? The one known per­pe­tra­tor is prob­a­bly a right-wing extrem­ist and so far, at least 80 have died because of this............=(

    Posted by Steven | July 22, 2011, 8:05 pm
  2. ...and don’t for­get one of the oth­er main pil­lars in their elec­toral strat­e­gy:

    ...
    For the first time, Egypt’s Islamist pow­er­house is able to cam­paign open­ly under a new par­ty ban­ner, and it is using its long-stand­ing char­i­ty net­works to gain an edge over more lib­er­al and sec­u­lar can­di­dates ahead of par­lia­men­tary elec­tions sched­uled to begin in two weeks.

    Across the coun­try, the movement’s polit­i­cal and char­i­ta­ble machine is sell­ing dis­count­ed meat and veg­eta­bles to fam­i­lies who oth­er­wise couldn’t afford the tra­di­tion­al rit­u­als for Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sac­ri­fice.

    Crit­ics call it vote buy­ing, but the Broth­er­hood says social ser­vices are its his­toric con­duit to the peo­ple.

    ...

    The Brotherhood’s par­ty has been try­ing to address the issues of the poor, sell­ing low­er-priced note­books, pens and oth­er sta­tionery before the school year start­ed, for exam­ple. It has set up mobile health clin­ics in areas with­out hos­pi­tals and deployed tens of thou­sands of vol­un­teers to mobi­lize their pro­grams.

    Their cam­paign posters read “Togeth­er we’ll fight infla­tion” and “Get to know us, join us.”

    ...

    “Peo­ple have faith in us. We com­mu­ni­cate with them through ser­vices. That is the party’s con­cern,” Aouf said.

    So it looks like the MB is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly court­ing big busi­ness and the poor. This would be like some­thing out of a Mon­ty Python sketch if pro-big busi­ness fun­da­men­tal­ists Islamist par­ties weren’t the glob­al norm (in part because MB-affil­i­ates are also the glob­al norm for Islamist par­ties).

    You have to give them cred­it for very effec­tive elec­toral the­atrics. Just imag­ine how much elec­toral good will the GOP would have mus­tered in the US dur­ing the last few years if there was lit­er­al­ly an offi­cial GOP-char­i­ty out there sell­ing dis­count­ed goods and ser­vices to all the Amer­i­cans put of out work by their crazy poli­cies. In spite of the in-your-face irony/hypocrisy of if it all, a GOP-char­i­ty would prob­a­bly be able to buy off at least 10% of the vote on a bad year. You also have to hope the Egypt­ian pub­lic notices the inher­ent incen­tive for a rul­ing par­ty to allow a pop­u­lace to fall into such pover­ty that it needs char­i­ty if that char­i­ty boosts the rul­ing par­ty’s polls. Or if they need some new fan­gled “aus­ter­i­ty” to “fix” their econ­o­my. Giv­en the MB’s appar­ent adher­ence to free-mar­ket ortho­doxy and that ortho­doxy’s cur­rent aus­ter­i­ty fetish, there could be quite a bit more “aus­ter­i­ty” in Egyp­t’s future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 8, 2011, 9:56 pm
  3. There’s no busi­ness like war:

    ...
    Con­vinced of their upcom­ing suc­cess in the vote, some Mus­lim Broth­er­hood sup­port­ers had con­cerns beyond Egyp­t’s bor­ders — over Israel’s inten­tions to dis­man­tle the tem­po­rary Mughra­bi bridge lead­ing to the Tem­ple Mount in Jerusalem. At Al-Azhar Uni­ver­si­ty, a strong­hold of the move­ment, giant posters called for the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the mount, and Pales­tin­ian flags min­gled with Egypt­ian ones. Guests of hon­or at prayers at the uni­ver­si­ty were mem­bers of a Hamas del­e­ga­tion that was in Cairo for talks with Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty offi­cials.

    One Mus­lim Broth­er­hood activist, Bayu­ma Tayara, said his group did not need to cam­paign at this point. The move­ment has been doing grass­roots work for years, he said, and every Egypt­ian knows who the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is. He denied that the group was busy­ing itself with the Pales­tin­ian issue to dis­tract atten­tion from ongo­ing demon­stra­tions in Cairo and said the group was sure of vic­to­ry.

    Ser­mon after ser­mon before and after the prayers at the uni­ver­si­ty accused Israel of harm­ing Mus­lim holy places and claimed that the Jews were defil­ing Pales­tine. One speak­er said that all of Pales­tine would be lib­er­at­ed via Cairo’s Tahrir Square — where demon­stra­tions ear­li­er this year brought down Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak’s regime.

    Among the crowd was Abed Khaled, an accoun­tant, who said the Jews would be fought until the fight­ers’ last drop of blood. Acknowl­edg­ing that such a step was not cur­rent­ly fea­si­ble, he said that after an elec­tion vic­to­ry the army would be pre­pared for war against Israel.
    ...

    So it looks like “prepa­ra­tions for war with Israel” might be Egyp­t’s new stim­u­lus pro­gram after the MB takes charge. I guess that sort of explains the mil­i­tary’s not-very-secret sup­port of the MB.

    At least we’ll know why noth­ing will get done about Egypt­ian pover­ty. There are more impor­tant pri­or­i­ties.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 26, 2011, 7:34 pm
  4. With MB-run gov­ern­ments pop­ping up across North Africa and the Mid­dle East, there’s prob­a­bly going to be quite a few new bilat­er­al trade poli­cies between MB-run gov­ern­ments. And that will prob­a­bly include some direct invest­ments like new man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ties in fel­low MB-run coun­tries. Some of them might be con­tro­ver­sial, like this one:

    Hamas sets up rock­et pro­duc­tion line in Sinai
    By YAAKOV KATZ
    12/11/2011 01:34

    Exclu­sive: By estab­lish­ing facil­i­ties in Egypt, group aims to pro­tect its assets since it believes Israel won’t strike tar­gets inside Egypt due to affect it would have on bilat­er­al rela­tions.

    Hamas has estab­lished for­ward bases and rock­et pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties in the Sinai Penin­su­la in an effort to pro­tect them from Israeli air strikes, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

    By estab­lish­ing the facil­i­ties in Egypt, Hamas aims to pro­tect its assets since it believes Israel will not strike tar­gets inside Egypt due to the affect it would have on bilat­er­al rela­tions.

    Israel has called on Cairo to increase its efforts to restore order in Sinai and to pre­vent attacks, but the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary has held back from dis­man­tling the Hamas infra­struc­ture in the penin­su­la.

    More than a dozen Egypt­ian army bat­tal­ions allowed into Sinai with Israel’s per­mis­sion (required because of lim­its placed on Egypt­ian forces there under the peace treaty) are still oper­at­ing there, although with lim­it­ed suc­cess in stop­ping ter­ror­ist activ­i­ty and arms smug­gling to the Gaza Strip.

    Recent arms smug­gled into Gaza have includ­ed advanced weapon­ry stolen from Libyan mil­i­tary store­hous­es such as Russ­ian- made shoul­der-to-air mis­siles.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 11, 2011, 1:04 am
  5. One of the first polit­i­cal rift with­in the MB appears to be whether or not to impose “sin-free” tourism on the coun­try. That would ban booze, biki­nis, and mixed cou­pled sun-bathing from the beach­es. Some MB can­di­dates are call­ing for such mea­sures while oth­ers are ask­ing for a hands-off approach to tourists. The Salafists don’t have that prob­lem (they’re all for it), but they aren’t quite sure about ancient stat­ues of gods Egypt­ian being on pub­lic dis­play. And the MB isn’t quite sure about that either. This should do mir­a­cles for the econ­o­my:

    Egypt Islamists offer vision for sin-free tourism

    By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Asso­ci­at­ed Press – 11/12/2011

    CAIRO (AP) — Islamists are dom­i­nat­ing Egyp­t’s elec­tions and some of them have a new mes­sage for tourists: wel­come, but no booze, biki­nis or mixed bathing at beach­es, please.

    That vision of turn­ing Egypt into a sin-free vaca­tion spot could spell doom for a key pil­lar of the econ­o­my that has already been bad­ly bat­tered by this year’s polit­i­cal unrest.

    “Tourists don’t need to drink alco­hol when they come to Egypt; they have plen­ty at home,” a veiled Mus­lim Broth­er­hood can­di­date, Azza al-Jarf, told a cheer­ing crowd of sup­port­ers on Sun­day across the street from the Pyra­mids.

    They came to see the ancient civ­i­liza­tion, not to drink alco­hol,” she said, her voice boom­ing through a set of loud­speak­ers at a cam­paign event dubbed “Let’s encour­age tourism.” The crowd chant­ed, “Tourism will be at its best under Free­dom and Jus­tice,” the Broth­er­hood’s par­ty and the most influ­en­tial polit­i­cal group to emerge from the fall of Hos­ni Mubarak.

    ...

    The Salafis, who fol­low the Wah­habi school of thought that pre­dom­i­nates in Sau­di Ara­bia, are clear in their oppo­si­tion to alco­hol and skimpy beach­wear.

    And they’re still waver­ing on the issues of unmar­ried cou­ples shar­ing hotel rooms and the dis­play of ancient Egypt­ian stat­ues like fer­til­i­ty gods that they believe clash with con­ser­v­a­tive Islam­ic sen­si­bil­i­ties. At a Salafi ral­ly in the Mediter­ranean port city of Alexan­dria recent­ly, par­ty loy­al­ists cov­ered up mer­maid stat­ues on a pub­lic foun­tain with cloth.

    The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, a more prag­mat­ic polit­i­cal force, has sent mixed mes­sages, reflect­ing per­haps the influ­ence of some who would be more inclined to leave tourism alone for the sake of the econ­o­my.

    Broth­er­hood and Al-Nour par­ty lead­ers toured ancient mon­u­ments over the past cou­ple of days in an attempt to show they’re sup­port­ing tourism, releas­ing pic­tures of them­selves smil­ing and shak­ing hands with vis­i­tors.

    One Al-Nour par­ty spokesman in the ancient city of Aswan told a gath­er­ing: “We are not going to close tem­ples, we are not going to order the tourists to cov­er up or put restric­tions on their free­doms.”

    Broth­er­hood leader Saad el-Katat­ni is also now espous­ing a hands-off approach. “Tourism is not all about what to eat, drink or wear. ... We have noth­ing to do with beach­es,” he told the semi-offi­cial Al-Ahram dai­ly.

    But in August, he told tourism offi­cials that “Egypt is a pious coun­try and the beach tourism and biki­ni should not be in pub­lic beach­es.”

    Also, cler­ics like Yass­er Bourha­mi, influ­en­tial among hard-line Salafis, are pre­sent­ing ideas for restric­tions on tourism. Bourha­mi calls it “halal tourism,” using the term for food that is rit­u­al­ly fit under Islam­ic law.

    “A five-star hotel with no alco­hol, a beach for women — sis­ters — sep­a­rat­ed from men in a bay where the two sides can enjoy a vaca­tion for a week with­out sins,” he said in an inter­view with pri­vate tele­vi­sion net­work Dream TV. “The tourist does­n’t have to swim with a biki­ni and harm our youth.”

    A lead­ing mem­ber of Al-Nour, Tarek Sha­laan, stum­bled through a recent TV inter­view when asked about his views on the dis­play of nude pharaon­ic stat­ues like those depict­ing fer­til­i­ty gods.

    “The antiq­ui­ties that we have will be put under a dif­fer­ent light to focus on his­tor­i­cal events,” he said, with­out explain­ing fur­ther.

    He also failed to explain whether hotel recep­tion clerks will have to start demand­ing mar­riage cer­tifi­cates from cou­ples check­ing in togeth­er.

    “Hon­est­ly, I don’t know the Shari­ah posi­tion, so I don’t want to give an answer,” he said.

    Dur­ing Sun­day’s cam­paign event for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, can­di­date al-Jarf said the new approach does­n’t have to spell the end of tourism.

    “For­eign­ers respect tra­di­tions, they did­n’t come here for nudi­ty,” she told a crowd in a mid­dle class dis­trict of Giza steps away from the Pyra­mids where many res­i­dents work in tourism.

    Anoth­er can­di­date at the event, Ahmed el-Khouli, promised they would draw mil­lions more tourists and crit­i­cized mem­bers of rival, sec­u­lar par­ties who he said “pro­mote nudi­ty and pros­ti­tu­tion in Egypt” for the sake of attract­ing tourist dol­lars.

    Tourism accounts for rough­ly 10 per­cent of Egyp­t’s gross domes­tic prod­uct, employs an esti­mat­ed 3 mil­lion of Egyp­t’s 85 mil­lion peo­ple, and is one of the top three main­stays of the econ­o­my, along with Suez Canal fees and remit­tances.

    ...

    Still, res­i­dents of Lux­or and Red Sea province vot­ed in large num­bers for the Islamists, which oppo­nents said was a result of the par­ties feed­ing a “feel­ing of guilt” over things like serv­ing alco­hol.

    ...

    The vot­ing has yet to be com­plet­ed and the hang­over is just get­ting start­ed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 14, 2011, 9:35 pm
  6. @Pterrafractyl: It’s all part of the Estab­lish­ment plan in my view. I won­der if the same thing could be pulled here in Amer­i­ca as well?

    Posted by Steven l. | December 16, 2011, 2:35 am
  7. Here’s an inter­est­ing dec­la­ra­tion by Hamas, espe­cial­ly giv­en the rock­et pro­duc­tion plant they’re build­ing in the Sinai. The Hamas lead­er­ship declared a “shift” in empha­sis towards non-vio­lence, cit­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as a mod­el of mod­er­ate, non-vio­lent resis­tance. They also cit­ed Euro­pean coun­tries as those espe­cial­ly like­ly to appre­ci­ate the spe­cial, non-rad­i­cal nature of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and Hamas’s lead­ers appear eager to gain that spe­cial non-rad­i­cal sta­tus too. Hmm­mm...

    Hamas says it will switch tac­tics to non-vio­lence
    Phoebe Green­wood
    Decem­ber 20, 2011

    GAZA CITY: Hamas has said that it will shift tac­tics away from vio­lent attacks on Israel as part of a rap­proche­ment with its Fatah rivals in the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty.

    A spokesman for the Hamas Prime Min­is­ter, Ismail Haniya, said that the Islam­ic par­ty, which has con­trolled Gaza for five years, was shift­ing its empha­sis from armed strug­gle to non-vio­lent resis­tance.

    The announce­ment came as Israel released 550 Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers in the sec­ond stage of a deal that brought home Gilad Shalit, an Israeli sol­dier held cap­tive in Gaza for more than five years.

    ...

    Hamas believes the events of the Arab Spring, in which upris­ings have thrown off the old auto­crat­ic order and ush­ered in demo­c­ra­t­ic, mod­er­ate Islam­ic gov­ern­ments in Tunisia and Egypt, have changed the land­scape of the Mid­dle East and is repo­si­tion­ing itself accord­ing­ly away from the Syr­ia-Iran axis that has sus­tained it for decades.

    Euro­pean coun­tries in par­tic­u­lar see that the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is a spe­cial kind of Islam­ic move­ment that is not rad­i­cal. It could be the same with Hamas,” said Mr Nunu.

    ...

    Since not com­plete­ly embrac­ing Wah­habism appears to earn Sun­ni groups the “mod­er­ate” badge of hon­or these day, Hamas may be right about that last part.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 19, 2011, 9:26 pm

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