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Egypt elections: Muslim Brotherhood in a fight for survival

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The SCAF’s decision is based on a ruling by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court Thursday that the law governing the parliamentary elections, which ended in January, erred when it allowed parties to contest the seats reserved for independents.

Coming after months of threats of parliament dissolution by the SCAF-appointed government to the Brotherhood, and from a court full of Mubarak-appointed justices, the ruling is seen by many in Egypt as politicized. It has increased the power of the military, and hurt the Brotherhood, whose party held about half the seats in parliament and had used that position to secure a solid hold on a committee elected to write Egypt’s new constitution. The military has now indicated it will appoint a new constitutional committee.

With both of these footholds gone, the Brotherhood is hoping for an electoral victory by Dr. Morsi. 

Brotherhood could face court freeze

Underlining their sense of urgency is a court case scheduled for Tuesday that seeks to freeze the Brotherhood’s activities, because it is not registered under the law as nongovernmental organizations in Egypt are required to do. Omar Ashour, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center who is currently in Egypt, says Brotherhood members are feeling boxed in and are fearful of a future under Shafiq.

“Basically [SCAF] is taking away every single avenue for which the Brotherhood can become influential in the political process,” he says,
pointing to parliament, the coming court case, and a possible presidential election defeat. “They are quite afraid.”

The Brotherhood is an 84-year-old organization that seeks a greater role for Islam in society. For decades it has proselytized, operated social services, and encouraged its members to lead more godly lives. 

The organization was banned under former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who executed leaders and jailed many members. Under Mubarak, the organization was banned but tolerated, and its members competed in elections as independents though they were also sometimes rounded up and imprisoned. The organization formed a political wing, the FJP, after Mubarak's ouster last year.

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