One thing is certain: next June 16th and 17th Egypt will go back to polls to elect its first president of the post-revolution era. The candidates who will be on the ballot are the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, official candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the secular Ahmed Shafiq who was the real surprise candidate, former Air Force officer with a brief stint as Prime Minister from January to March 2011 that ended with his resignation.

One would have expected a head-to-head competition between Morsi and Abu al-Futtuh, who was fired from the Muslim Brotherhood when he announced his candidacy for president in contravention of the order of the MB that had initially assured the Egyptians that they would not run for the Head of State. Both Abu al-Futtuh and former Arab League Secretary General Amru Musa are the losers.

The first comment regarding this result is that, whoever wins the election, nothing will change. If Shafiq, like many of his opponents and detractors insist, is a character linked to the former regime, to the dictator Mubarak, one can hardly say that the novelty will be Morsi. During an interview with the satellite channel Al-Hayat, Shafiq has rightly pointed out that even the "Muslim Brothers were at the service of the Mubarak regime", so that after the parliamentary elections of 2005, eighty-eight independent candidates well-related to the movement were elected, including Morsi himself. Besides this, it is well-known that during the regime of Mubarak the Muslim Brotherhood was officially banned but unofficially tolerated. And it is another well-known fact that the article two of the Egyptian constitution states that "sharia is THE main source of law" was imposed by the movement founded by Hasan al-Banna.

In the run-off between Shafiq and Morsi who will win? The starting point is a 25.4% vote for Morsi and 25% for Shafiq. Shafiq has won in areas such as Luxor, in districts with high concentration of Copts such as Assiut, in some areas of Alexandria and Cairo, and finally in Manufiyye, the stronghold of Mubarak. Unfortunately, the road is all uphill for Shafiq. If he can count on the vote of a majority of Copts who, despite having suffered under the old regime, are not willing to see the advent of an Islamist president, he cannot count on the support from the compact component of secular voters nor on the youth of the revolution who consider him a felul, a derogatory term that indicates anyone linked to Mubarak and his entourage.

On the other hand, most of the Islamist forces will support Morsi. If Abu al-Futtuh has not yet ruled on this, both the Gamaat al-Islamiyya and the Salafi party al-Nur have already announced their support for him. But what it is particularly surprising are the statements of secular movements and individuals who do not seem to understand the real danger of their country in the hands of Islamists.

Surprising is Mahmoud Afifi, spokesperson of the April 6 Youth Movement, who held that he will do anything to prevent the victory of Shafiq. Even more surprising is the writer Alaa al-Aswani who wrote on Twitter: "In case of a runoff between Morsi and Shafiq then there must be a broad national front to protect the Revolution and to support the Muslim Brotherhood against the corrupt and murderous regime of Mubarak". In the past, al-Aswani has already distinguished himself by his blind ideology that led him to complain and seek compensation from an Israeli publishing house because it had translated his Yacoubian Building without permission into a language that he despised. This ideology led him to declare that the proceeds from the cause would be paid directly to Hamas. I do wonder how a person can be so blind and deaf as to not want to admit that the Muslim Brotherhood represents and will represent a new dictatorship in the name of Islam. I wonder how one can forget words like those of Mashhur Mustafa, former Supreme Guide of the movement from 1996 to 2002, who in 1995 declared: "Our only reservations about democracy is that it gives the people a total sovereignty. We are not against this, but this sovereignty must be inserted in the frame provided by the sharia. Democracy ... is acceptable only when it in the best interest of the people." Mashhur always made it clear that: "For the moment we accept the principle of plurality of parties, but when we achieve power and Islamic power we will decide whether to accept or reject this principle."

It is patently clear that Egyptians will have to choose the lesser evil on the ballot, but they would do well to keep in mind the words of the Tunisian Karim Ben Slimane who on May 23rd posted on the website an article titled "Tunisia was better off under Ben Ali" where he recalls, among other things, that "under Ben Ali we were all Muslims. After Ben Ali we have become Muslims with an epithet: pietist Salafi, jihadi Salafi, Ash'arite, Hanbali and the list is even longer."

To sum up, Egyptians should remember when voting that if freedom was the goal of the revolution, they will not get that freedom, true freedom, by voting for the candidate of a movement whose motto has always been "Islam is the solution." The Egyptians should read an article by the intellectual Yemeni-Swiss Elham Manea, which stated that the solution is always and only man!


VALENTINA COLOMBO is a Professor of Culture and Geopolitics of Islam at the European University of Rome and a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels. And member of the Committee for Italian Islam at the Ministry of the Interior. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via phone at 345 6944633.

This article was published as an editorial of ISLAM’S NEWSLETTER (Number 15, May 2012). Prof Colombo holds the copyright. It has been published here with her permission.

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