Egyptians have gone to the polls in large numbers this week to cast their votes in the first stage of protracted parliamentary elections that will stretch into early next year. Meanwhile, the countrys military rulers do not appear to be going anywhere, unless forced out by mounting street protests and outside international pressure.
Few of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have crowded Tahrir Square in recent days would appear to trust the integrity of the electoral process, nor think it will mean greater freedom any time soon. One voter quoted by the New York Times? captured the situation succinctly when he said, "It is like a play, it is like a sham. We are pretending to be voting. I know these elections dont mean anything, but I am still going. Another said, "There is no justice, no integrity, no confidence. But I came because then I will have done my duty, so I will ask to claim my rights.
The main beneficiary of the elections will in all likelihood be the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders formed an alliance of convenience with the ruling military council to ensure that the elections would proceed as planned. The Muslim Brotherhood?, Egypts largest and best-organized political force, wanted no delays that would give opponents the opportunity to catch up with its organizational prowess.
We got a taste of what is to come from the Muslim Brotherhoods co-sponsored "kill the Jews pep rally held last Friday in Cairo. According to a report in YNet News, about 5,000 people joined the rally at Cairos most prominent mosque, the Al-Azhar mosque. Over and over again, the crowd chanted passages from the Koran vowing that "one day we shall kill all the Jews.
The rally was co-sponsored by the Al-Azhar University, which President Obama had referred to as a "beacon of learning in his June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, and by the Union of Muslim Scholars. The latter group is headed by the Muslim Brotherhoods virulently anti-Semitic spiritual leader Youssef Qaradawi, who just happened to return to Cairo two days before the rally for the first time since his February trip when he delivered his fiery speech calling, among other things, for "the conquest of the al-Aqsa Mosque. (...)(...more)