When 33 million Egyptians revolted against the one-year Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rule on 30 June 2013 and, backed by the military, overthrew it on 3 July they worked a pivotal change in the country’s history. For one, they rid their country of the MB who had hijacked Egypt’s Egyptian identity to replace it with an Islamic one; and second, they aspired to build a modern democratic civil State. Representatives of the various sectors of the Egyptian community teamed up with the military and set a three-point Roadmap for the country to attain these goals. So far, Egypt has fulfilled two of them: a civic Constitution that is seen as the best ever in the history of Egyptian constitutions, and the election of moderate Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as President. Both were voted in through landslide fair votes, meaning they have the solid support of the masses. Now Egypt eagerly awaits the implementation of the third and most critical provision, the election of a parliament, in order to fulfil the Roadmap and move on towards a democratic future.
With some 125 political parties on the arena, the political scene appears rather confused, especially with ambiguous talk of party coalitions. However, we hope that by the time—and this will be sooner rather than later—candidacy for the upcoming elections is open, there will be in place solid coalitions that would ably contest the race with political agendas that answer voters’ aspirations for a new Egypt.
It is no exaggeration to say that the upcoming parliamentary elections pose a huge challenge. Only a balanced parliament that translates the Constitution’s principles into solid, tangible laws can perform the legislative reform Egyptians aspire for. Otherwise, the nation risks political and legislative pitfalls that would
likely undermine the entire Roadmap.
Why do I now voice fears which I repeatedly warned against? I do so to awaken awareness on the active role every Egyptian should play in the elections, both through campaigning and voting. The political scene currently includes movements that aim to pull Egypt back into the fold of Islamism and revive the religious State, and these conspire to sneak into parliament to attain their goal. It is thus essential to monitor and identify the predispositions of candidates contesting the parliamentary race in order to disallow those who aspire for religious rule from finding a way in.
This brings me to a problem that is not being addressed, that of the Islamic parties which are still freely operating on the political arena. Following the Arab Spring uprising in January 2011 and consequent rise of Islamists, these parties were able to acquire the approval of the Supreme Committee for Party Affairs (SCPA) and become a legitimate part of the system. They are now vocal about contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections; they strive to sway Egyptians towards political Islam with honeyed rhetoric and deceitful agendas, and work to form coalitions with non-Islamic parties. I am confident that the majority of Egyptians are awake to such by-now-notorious practices but I still fear that some may be lured or deceived into going along with the Islamists.
Yet it is an open question why religious-based parties clearly bent on establishing an Islamic State should be allowed to remain on the ground. This, despite an explicit clause in the Constitution that bans them. Since the establishment of the Constitution in January 2014, I expected the SCPA to withdraw its recognition of religious-based parties and ban them. In the least, it could have required these parties to exclude religious references from their agendas, as a precondition for them to run on the political scene. But the SCPA did nothing of the sort, not even with the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The FJP was dismissed and its headquarters and property confiscated not by the SCPA but by the court ruling which declared the MB a terrorist group. To date it has never been said that the ban on the FJP owed to its religious basis which contradicts with the Constitution.
This suspicious SCPA silence on religious-based parties despite their flagrant non-constitutionality threatens an explosion of the situation once the parliamentary elections set off. Complaints will be filed in court or with the Supreme Committee for Parliamentary Elections for a decision on the non-legitimacy of these parties. This is bound to disrupt the political scene and obstruct the elections. It is past me to grasp why the matter is being so absurdly placed on hold. Yet if the State persists in procrastinating, we can only take matters in our own hands and stop the sneaking of Islamists into parliament.
19 October 2014