“He backs “resistance” against the “occupiers” in the Middle East – America and Israel. In his ideal Egypt, the sale of alcohol would be banned, beaches would be segregated and thieves would have their hands cut off – though, he says “it would not happen because no-one would steal”. Until last week Islamists like him were at the radical fringe, but the first results from last week’s election have shown a staggering success for Islamist parties like Mr Zumour’s…….. What has been counted so far amounts to a crushing blow for the middle-class revolutionaries, both Christians and Muslims, who filled Tahir Square in January and February to force former president Hosni Mubarak from power. They wanted more freedom, yet are now faced with the prospect of newly-confident Islamist parliamentarians determined to enforce Sharia, ban alcohol, and banish many of the rights Egyptian women take for granted. The cause of their fear is men like Mr Zumour, no longer just another militant but one of a string of Islamist radicals once banned and jailed who have thrown themselves into electoral politics……….. Gamaa Islamiya’s allied party Nour, representing Salafis who follow the puritan Saudi-style version of Sunni Islam, won more than 20 per cent of the vote. It was not clear how much of the vote Gamaa Islamiya had won last night but it appeared to be on course to win several seats. Together the hardline parties beat the liberal Egyptian Bloc into third place, a result profoundly depressing to secular and Christian Egyptians……….”
These election results will give everyone pause. The military junta, SCAF, now knows that its “popularity” will now improve among a certain segment of Egyptians. They can play the “guardians” of the constitution. The secular and liberal young, who started the revolt against the dictator back in January, in fact before that, now face a majority of Islamists, possibly controlling at least two thirds of the new legislature.
A big majority of seats for the Muslim brotherhood and the Salafis and the smaller Islamic Jihad (Ayman al-Zawahiri’s old pals). The military probably think their lot has improved, that they will now be courted by others, of both sides. We shall see.
This is also good news for the Arab oligarchies in the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, etc. They have always felt more comfortable with the Islamists, especially the Salafis, than with secularists. The potentates have a bitter history of struggle with the secularists, from the early days of Arab socialism under Nasser. The potentates know that the young secularists would push them on issues of accountability and freedoms. The Salafi and some Muslim Brother Islamists usually oppose freedoms, and would normally turn a blind eye to corruption as long as they share in the spoils (the examples of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are good ones).