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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to field own presidential candidate

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 3rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has announced that it will field its own presidential candidate. The announcement reverses an earlier decision. The ultra-conservative Muslim Brotherhood is already in control of almost half the seats in parliament. The recent news escalates the group's confrontation with the nation's ruling generals and the group's secular and progressive critics.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A victory by the Muslim Brotherhood's chief strategist and deputy leader Khairat al-Shater would give the previously outlawed movement a strong hold on Egypt's legislative and executive branches. Al-Shater has been described as a multi-millionaire businessman and one of the Brotherhood's main financiers.

The announcement made this past weekend ended weeks of speculation and confusion within the group, which believes Islamic principles should regulate all aspects of public and family life.

According to a Brotherhood official, the group's governing Shura council is now split into two camps: one in favor of fielding a candidate from within and one against it, fearing the repercussions.

The Brotherhood's decision to nominate one of its own will likely heighten the group's confrontation with the council of military generals, who are accused of seeking to preserve the army's privileges and are likely not to want too much power concentrated in the hands of a single group.

The decision will also widen the gap with progressives and secularists, who fear that the Brotherhood, which has largely espoused moderate rhetoric in the past year will implement a conservative agenda once it has solidified its political position.

Muslim conservatives enjoy a comfortable majority on a 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution for Egypt, which has raised serious alarm among the nation's large Christian minority and progressives.

The decision to run a presidential candidate may have as much to do with the Brotherhood's internal politics as its long-term plans.

There are two other advocates of political Islam also running for president. One is a relative progressive and the other an ultra-conservative. The Brotherhood leaders fear that these candidates might attract a following from younger members of the movement and break down its strict discipline.

Mahmoud Hussein, the group's deputy leader, said the decision to run a candidate was made in the face of "attempts to abort the revolution," after the military council refused several requests by the Brotherhood to appoint a cabinet of ministers.

"We don't want to reach a confrontation that affects the path of the nation," Mohammed Morsi, the top leader of the group's political arm said.

A confrontation remains likely. The move reverses a pledge made by the group's leaders not to contest presidential elections to reassure progressives and Western countries fearful of an Islamic takeover.

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