On November 28, the opportunity that the Muslim Brotherhood has waited for since 1928 came. The first round of elections in Egypt took place, and although the results are not yet in, the Brotherhood’s mammoth political operation blew away its competitors. A Brotherhood spokesman was honest about what the group seeks: “The Sharia, the Muslim legal framework, must be the foundation for everything.”
The vote for the lower house of parliament took place in nine provinces. In districts where a candidate does not take a majority, there will be a run-off election on December 5-6. Two other rounds of voting will take place for a lower house among the remaining provinces, and then there will be three rounds to decide the upper house. The entire process will finish on March 11, ushering in an interim government that will draft the next constitution.
The turnout was so high that an extra two hours was given for people to vote. There were no notable clashes and by all accounts, a sense of happiness filled the air. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, who were accused of buying votes by selling cheap goods to poor voters in the run-up to the election, are being accused by some rivals of cheating. Farid Zahran of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party claims that some veiled women refused to expose their face for identification or to dip their fingers in ink, allowing them to vote multiple times. The Muslim Brotherhood, he says, stuffed ballot boxes in Luxor, Aswan and Faroun, and Coptic Christians were prevented from entering some polling stations.
According to Zahran, thousands of the Brotherhood’s “youth volunteers” were at the polling stations to help illiterate people to vote and guided them to choose their party. The Wasat Party is complaining that the Brotherhood stole ballot papers in Damietta. The National Human Rights Council confirms that there were 391 complaints filed, most of which were related to the illegal campaigning on election day that many parties were involved in. One Free Egyptians candidate told an army officer that the Brotherhood was handing out flyers at a polling station and he did nothing. The law preventing campaigning during the 48 hours before a vote was largely ignored and unenforced.
The White House has tough language for the ruling military council but when asked about the Muslim Brotherhood’s likely victory, White House spokesman Jay Carney replied that it is “unfair to assume that any party that has a religious affiliation cannot adhere to democratic principles.” That doesn’t exactly jive with the Muslim Brotherhood spokesman’s statement that the “Sharia, the Muslim legal framework, must be the foundation for everything.”
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