21 March, 2012

Of overbearing parents and Andalusian poets

As the proverb goes "once you drink from the Nile, you are destine to return."  Though I leave Egypt in less than two weeks, I already feel the urge to return as quickly as possible. As a whole, Egypt is frustrating, but the people are welcoming, and my work here is intriguing.

Instead of being satisfied with my inquiries about the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary campaign in specific, and the politics of Egypt's Islamist current in general, I find my data incomplete. Rather than an overview of the body politics here, I have snapshots of my subject; my examination is unfinished, but the subject is fascinating. I want more time in Egypt.

Egypt's Islamist parties do not cleanly fit the prototype concepts of political organizations. Both the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and al-Nour Party are organizations geared to compete for political power.  However, while there is legal separation between the party and the parent organization, there is no practical firewall between their resources and their decision-making process.  At least for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), it was the mothership who determined the FJP's political leadership and decisions; and it was the MB who commanded the financial and manpower resources during the parliamentary elections. As Nathan Brown submitted, MB: the helicopter parent.

Barricades in downtown Cairo
Though the MB's messages and ambition have evolved since 2005, their campaign methods have remained largely consistent, and their strength is entirely within their grassroots organization. With operatives in every constituency, every neighborhood, and every precinct, the MB commanded human resources unmatched by any other political force in Egypt.  As other parties refrained from competing for votes in certain constituencies, the MB knew their base, mapped out their universe of possible supporters, and methodically deployed resources to secure and drive those votes to the polling stations.  Most importantly, while other well-funded parties and their candidates pontificated, the MB spoke to the voters on the streets, in the cafés, in and around the mosques, and visited their homes.  In short, the Brothers kept their ears to the ground, and talk with, and not at the people.

One major question that remains unanswered is campaign financing.  Though Egypt has legal spending limits on political campaigns, there are no reporting or enforcement mechanisms. While the MB has been traditionally funded by membership dues, the political scuttlebutt is that Islamist parties, including the MB and al-Nour, are financially backed by Persian Gulf supporters. Until parliament adopts legislation to require more transparency in campaign financing, or the subject becomes a future campaign issue and compel candidates to self-disclose, how parties pay for their campaigns will remain as mysterious as the sphinx's inscrutable smile.      

Riot police posted outside the People's Assembly

* * *

Live music @ Sufi Bookstore

As for the more pleasurable side of being in Egypt, I often find myself in a self-induced Yacoubian daydream, wandering around Talaat Harb Square. I admire Egypt's historic pluralistic society, have reservations about the former Europhile establishment, and find myself wondering about historical social and economic exclusion of the majority of the country.  What would have happened had Cincinnatus triumphed in 1954, the army went back to the barracks, and the country developed lasting democratic institutions?

Sometimes I contemplate further back in history, and think about Fatimid Egypt, when Sunnis lived under a Shia Caliphate, and Egyptians enjoyed the country's cosmopolitan offerings next to elegant Sephardic poets and Venetian spice and silk traders.  

Groppi's, founded by a Swiss immigrant in 1908, was once
the most celebrated pâtisserie south of the Mediterranean

1 comment:

Murielle said...

Vi presento il Signor Ahmed Colinas , io sono un individuo che è residente in Francia io vengo da questo messaggio per condividere con voi il mio prestito di offerte finanziarie. Io sono un prestatore certificato e la metto in pratica in questo settore per un lungo periodo di tempo. Ho iniziato in questo settore sotto consiglio di un quadro finanziario. Questa attività mi permette in qualsiasi momento per aiutare le persone in stato di bisogno e la buona gestione del mio capitale. Ho concedere prestiti a qualsiasi persona che desideri un aiuto finanziario di 1000 a 950.000 €, Questo è un prestito tra particolari condizioni, specifiche e semplice per questo fatto, alcune disposizioni sono fatte per il corretto svolgimento della procedura. Il mio tasso di interesse per tutta la durata di questo prestito è del 3% e il rimborso è effettuato con cadenza mensile. Se qualsiasi volta siete interessati, contattatemi tramite
indirizzo di posta elettronica.

E-mail : groupefinance027@gmail.com
Grazie per la vostra comprensione