Sixteen months after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir square to bring down the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, the square is again filled, this time in celebration of the historic election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi as President of Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which at the outset of the revolution proclaimed that it would not be fielding a presidential candidate, declared victory in last weekend’s run-off against former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. However, Shafiq and his supporters refuted this and made competing claims to victory; both had to wait until today for the official results. According to initial results, Morsi won the election run-off with 51.7% of the vote.
Morsi’s election places the Muslim Brotherhood on a collision course with Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which dissolved the Islamist-majority parliament last Sunday (the Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Salafists had won approximately three-quarters of the seats). The SCAF is supposed to swear in the new president within the next few days.
The results will also have tremendous reverberations beyond Egypt’s borders, not least for Israel, as the Muslim Brotherhood has questioned the validity of the 30-plus year peace treaty between Israel and Egypt; and is also the inspiration for and closely affiliated with Hamas, which rules in Gaza, and borders both Egypt and Israel.
The American-educated Morsi has previously been quoted as saying he supports a strict Islamic agenda.
Naftali Bennett, founder of the new religious-Zionist Yisraelim party, told Fox News that the election of Morsi would indeed transform the ‘Arab Spring’ into a ‘Muslim Winter.’
Earlier in the day, Egyptian daily al Ahram reported that Egyptian liberal and secularist parties condemned the US for what they saw as an endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama Ghazali Harb, co-founder of the Democratic Front Party, claimed that the Obama administration had been pressuring SCAF to hand over power to the Muslim Brotherhood.