Egypt Constitutional Battle: Liberals, Salafists Struggle to Find a Voice

After Dominating Elections, Muslim Brotherhood Dominates Constitution

by Jason Ditz, October 03, 2012

In Egypt, there is only one political game in town. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) dominated the parliamentary elections (since overturned) and their candidate, President Mohamed Mursi, swept into office. For everyone else, the picture isn’t nearly so rosy.

The production of the draft constitution has liberal parties up in arms. They performed so poorly in the elections that they have almost no representation in any of these issues, and say that the constitutional convention authorizes dangerous levels of state censorship and is also planning to ban religious minorities, outside of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition, from practicing their religions publicly.

The Salafists, which came in second in many of the votes, have representation, but they don’t seem to know what to do with it. The bloc’s inexperienced political leadership is said to be spending more time on internal factional fighting than in being a coalition partner with the FJP, leaving Mursi’s faction with more or less the full run of the country.

The Salafist infighting may ultimately leave them weaker in the next round of parliamentary votes, as several factions are expected to split into separate parties, splitting the base and likely convincing some to back the FJP as the somewhat more established Islamist party.

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