Egyptian Elections: Five reasons to stick with the process as uncertainty follows recent vote

Political parties with clear Islamic identities appear to be gaining a majority in preliminary results from Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections: the Muslim Brotherhood backed Freedom and Justice Party has around 40% of the vote and a further 25% went to the more extreme Salafi, An-Nour party. While the Brotherhood and the FJP have pledged to respect democratic principles and the rights of other Egyptians, the Salafis are explicitly hostile to the rights of women and minorities and to freedom of expression.

These parties believe that the law of God is superior to that of men and that they are in unique possession of the authoritative interpretation of the divine will. Their apparent strength is bad news for human rights in Egypt, but it should focus the minds of those who wish to see Egypt’s democratic transition move forward.

Here are five reasons not to give up on Egypt’s democratic transition at the first hurdle:

 

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Breaking the “Steel Vise:” U.S. Government Support for Civil Society

 

Over the weekend at the Community of Democracies conference in Krakow, Poland, Secretary of State Clinton made an important speech that set out in unambiguous terms the U.S. government’s support for independent civil society. She noted that it – together with representative government and a well-functioning market economy – is a vital part of the “three essential elements of a free nation” and is necessary for any country to progress in the 21st century.

The forthright tone of Secretary Clinton’s remarks was in welcome contrast to some of the administration’s earlier and more equivocal statements about human rights and democracy. 

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