In a move dreaded by Egyptian secularists, Khairat el-Shater, a millionaire businessman who is the financial power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was announced as the Brotherhood’s nominee for the Egyptian presidency. The Brotherhood had previously said that they did not want to enter the presidential race; the Brotherhood, in reversing its position, stated that it nominated el-Shater because of “threats to the revolution.”
Egypt’s economy is in trouble; net international reserves have fallen more than 50% since Hosni Mubarak was ousted.The fight for power in Egypt lies among the ruling military, the Brotherhood, the Wafd party, and the secular Free Egyptians party. Virtually all other parties are concerned that the citizenry would lose freedoms if the Brotherhood comes to monopolize power. The Muslim Brotherhood has already stated that it plans to jettison the peace treaty with Israel after U.S. State Department Victoria Nuland claimed the Brotherhood had told Washington it would uphold it. Last Thursday, the Egyptian parliament, at the behest of the Brotherhood, began drawing up a no-confidence motion against the military-appointed government. The Brotherhood has been pushing the military to fire the Cabinet for alleged incompetence.
Mr el-Shater has a clear view of the dominance of his Islamic philosophy; he has stated, “The Islamic reference point regulates life in its entirety, politically, economically and socially; we don’t have this separation between religion and government … the Muslim Brotherhood is a value-based organization that expresses itself using different political, economic, sportive, health-related and social means. You can’t take one part from one place and another part from another — this isn’t how it’s done.” In other words, Islamic law governs all.
There are signs of dissent despite the power of the Brotherhood, which already claims nearly half the seats in parliament. A Facebook page opposing el-Shater’s candidacy has 89,000 “likes,” while el-Fater’s own campaign page has received substantially less.
Nonetheless, el-Shatar remains the favorite to win the presidency of Egypt. If he does, both secularists and the international community have significant reason for concern.