Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood should learn from the experiences of others if it is to contend with changing circumstances. Being in opposition differs from holding power and responsibility, even if only as an active parliamentary bloc.
In Sudan, after Hassan Al Turabi and his party came to power, despite the strong analytical capabilities and the promises to support economic development and personal freedoms, the country became the archetype of corruption and mismanagement. Public freedoms were greatly reduced and dissenting opinions were harshly dealt with. Al Turabi succeeded in sabotaging his country’s international and regional relations, and escalated tensions with Egypt.
In Algeria, the Islamist party won the election but the army intervened and brought the nascent democratic experience to an end. Of course, the armed forces are responsible for nullifying the results. However, the Islamist leadership should also shoulder the blame for escalating the situation in the run-up to the poll. In their provocative speeches, they stated that election and democracy were obstacles to overcome on the way to power, their ultimate goal following the "Victory of Islam”!
Turkey”s experience is one that should be considered carefully. Islamists succeeded in presenting themselves rationally to Turkish society by way of a civil program and in which they stated their respect for a secular state and the law. They even announced their wish to see Turkey join the European Union without preoccupying themselves with identity politics. They did not get involved in a number of debates, such as the the hijab (veil) and did not behave as other Islamist groups do by stirring popular sentiment. In Turkey, the Islamist movement waged war upon corruption and attacked the theft of public funds. This assuaged the fears of the military establishment and reassured civil society.
I acknowledge that history does not repeat itself and that a considerable gap remains between the forward looking and the traditionalists. I trust, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood is finally out of the shadows. This step into the limelight will necessitate a number of dues we will certainly follow.