The success of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in parliament might be a national and democratic necessity since its participation in the political process will transform the group from a persecuted and besieged party, focused on criticism and condemnation, into an organization with a with a tangible alternative program.
Their slogan, "Islam is the solution," will no longer be evasive and vague. Instead it will be required to pose questions and provide answers to a range of social problems, including development and personal freedom.
The biggest and most dangerous problem posed by the Muslim Brotherhood is its Machiavellian charachter as it promotes two distinct agendas; in public, it calls for a civil government while in private, amongst party members, they call for a theocratic state, based on the ideologies of Sayyid Qotb and Hassan Al-Banna. This ideological duality is dangerous.
Recently, the group’s Supreme Guide, Mahdi Akef, wrote in a British newspaper, "The Brotherhood is against any peace treaty with Israel. It does not recognize Israel; however, it will not fight Israelis." His message to all Western government and especially the United States was clear and contrary to the stance adopted by the group in its publications and forums aimed at local consumption.
After their electoral success, the group sent a reassuring message to the Coptic community assuring them of the freedom of religious practice. In reality, the Brotherhood’s position was expressed by, Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah Al-Khatib, member of the guidance council, in a discussion of whether to build new Coptic churches. He said that in areas established by Muslims, such as Maadi and Helwan, in Cairo, and those conquered by Muslims, such as Alexandria, no new churches should be built. Others in the Brotherhood went as far as urging churches be demolished!
The Brotherhood’s electoral success is important. How it votes in parliament will determine its future as a political organization and might signal the beginning of the end. As a strong political bloc, will they use the same language in parliament as they do with their supporters? Will their double talk continue when they are in a position of power and have responsibility?
Perhaps, the Brotherhood’s celebration of its success might turn into a funeral and the group might wish it had remained in the shadows. In a break with 70 years of tradition, the next coming weeks will see the Brotherhood come under the spotlight with its opinions highlighted. Perhaps, and this is what we hope for it’s sake and that of Egypt, the Brotherhood will metamorphose into a political power with a religious flavor but one which operates as a civil organization, akin to the ruling Christian Democratic parties across much of Europe!