Since the results of the elections‘ first stage have become known, fear is spreading around. There is fear that Egypt might become a radical Islamic country such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. The idea that the Muslim Brothers (40% of the votes) and Salafis (20% of the votes) might co-operate is more than hair-rising.
Egyptians are religious, however, they gleam from zest of life and don’t want anybody to interfere and dictate how they should live their lives. To impose prohibition of music on people who start singing, clapping their hands and dancing on any occasion? I just saw this on the vegetable market: the farmers sang and clapped their hands next to their booth in broad daylight!
Fear is felt among the Copts; they fear that there will be even more constraints and harassment. And so do women who have been fighting for their rights since the twenties. And all those who fought for the overturn of regime feel betrayed, once more.
However, not everybody shares this apprehension. So far, only one third of the elections for the lower house have taken place. Chances are that the liberals are able to attract more attention from the ordinary people and to get their votes – however there is only little time and they (the liberals) neither get financial support from Qatar (Muslim Brothers) nor from Saudi Arabia (Salafis) in the range of millions of US dollars. Chances are that vote rigging gets enabled – however, considering the present chaos this scenario seems rather unlikely. Chances are that the Muslim Brothers enter a coalition with the liberals and distance themselves distinctly from the radical Salafis. On the occasion of yesterday’s and today’s run-offs, members from the two parties fought harshly against each other. This might change again, but I simply can’t imagine that the Muslim Brothers could unite with the Salafis.
However, one forgets over all the Islamophobia that Egypt definitely has other much more serious problems to face than alcohol prohibition, coercion of the headscarf and dress codes for tourists. This country urgently needs investments requiring legal security and stability. It needs an increase of the agricultural output (Egypt is the largest wheat importer!). Corruption must be eliminated. Emergency law has to be abolished. The educational system urgently needs to be improved. Privatisation has to be pushed forward. Subsidies that are wrongly allocated have to be abolished. Environmental pollution needs to be combatted. Any subjects can arbitrarily be added to this list because all domains of this country have decayed during 30 years of dictatorship.
The Salafis don’t seem to be able to get all this done. They got their votes thanks to threat, propaganda and gifts. This is not an option in politics in the long run. It would imply that people continue remaining poor and illiterate.
Sober-minded people argue that only the Muslim Brothers are the ones to be able to approach Egypt’s huge problems. They have eighty years of experience and many of them are successful businessmen and entrepreneurs – last but not least in tourism.
Last week, I got my visa extension for another year and was very happy about it. Especially, because during the last couple of months some residence permits were not renewed any more. Yet, after the elections’ results, me too I thought “if the Islamists are going to be Egypt’s next rulers I quit; I don’t need this”. I would not be able to go cycling anymore! But we are not that far yet. By mid-January we will know more and until then the chaos will continue. Fear will continue too, although the Muslim Brothers are struggling to convince with their liberal political convictions.