First, in case your Internet was off these past couple of days, Egypt’s High Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the Political Disenfranchisement Law was unconstitutional. The court also found the election of one third of parliamentary seats, reserved for individual candidates, unconstitutional. The reason: instead of being genuinely independent, those candidates were heavily affiliated with religious parties.
Then Maher Sami, deputy head of Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, announced that Thursday’s court verdict means that both houses of Egypt’s parliament—the People’s Assembly and the consultative Shura Council—will be dissolved.
So these are not easy, stable times for Israel’s neighbor to the south-west.
But the runoff presidential election between former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Freedom and Justice Party leader Mohamed Mursi is still going ahead as planned, on Saturday and Sunday.
And so, as interested parties, we must ask ourselves, which of the two candidates should we say a Mi Sh’Beirach for, or at least endorse in our hearts during prayer this coming Shabbat.
The details of this article were culled from the English language versions of the Arab press, and so, by definition, are already kind of biased. But you get what you can, and you hope that our Arab analysts out there will quickly and surely add a deeper dimension to this note.
Mohamed Mursi is a professor of Engineering. He served as member of parliament until 2005 and was head of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary blocback then. He is a top ranking Muslim Brothers official, who came in first in the first round of the presidential elections, with 5,764,952 votes, or 24.78 percent.
Ahmed Shafiq is a lieutenant-general in the army, former minister of civil aviation, and Mubarak’s last prime minister. He resigned after Mubarak stepped down. He finished second in the presidential election first round, with 5,505,327 votes, or 23.66 percent.
Concerns about Mursi are that he will be controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. He will likely increase the Brotherhood’s clerics’ dominance over all branches of the state, Iran Revolution style. He supports decriminalizing female circumcision, and will not be a friend of career women. There are fears that he will not be an effective bulwark against the extremist SCAF. And, judging by the Brotherhood’s disappointing performance in parliament, Mursi’s ability to rule effectively in a democracy has come under question as well.
Last week, Mursi declared at a Cairo University campaign rally: “The Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path, and martyrdom in the service of God is our goal. We shall enforce Islamic Sharia, and shall accept no alternative to it.”
Shafiq, on the other hand, appears to be a Western-style democrat – at least compared to Mursi. He favors of an inclusive and progressive civil state, and is against the politicizing of religion. If he wins, he has both the temperament and the experience of suppressing possible subversion on the part of the Brotherhood. And, despite his questionable ties with the Mubarak regime, Egyptian secular revolutionaries will fair much better following a Shafiq victory, because it would give secular parties time to establish themselves and grow politically – if the Brotherhood wins, the secularists will be targetted. And, naturally, economically, Egyptians will benefit greatly from a liberal-leaning presidency.
And Shafiq would probably maintain some continuity in Egypt’s foreign policy, including its tenuous peace with Israel. When speaking about Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, he said, “I object to Israel’s current actions, but I am a man who honors past agreements”.
So, when you daven in shul this Shabbat and you happen to touch on Egypt’s political future, cast your spiritual vote for Ahmed Shafiq.
But don’t tell your Egyptian friends, because that would be his kiss of death…