- Big milestone for Britain’s little Prince George who turns 1
- Murphy: Israel must be wary of Hamas using civilian deaths for recruitment
- Royce: Putin recruiting ‘every skinhead and malcontent around Russia’
- Nancy Pelosi is adamant: Congress worked together when Bush was president
- ‘Slender Man’ stabbing victim receives Purple Heart from anonymous veteran
- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
Islamists gain backers seeking help, not oppression
Question of the Day
CAIRO — Long-oppressed Arabs may be supporting Islamist political parties, but that does not mean the United States needs to fear a new rash of governments imposing strict Islamic law, according to some analysts who reviewed voting patterns after the Arab Spring uprisings.
“What voters are doing is voting for a clean break with the old regimes,” saidFawaz Gerges, director of Middle East studies at the London School of Economics.
“It is local politics at its best. Poor Arabs in the poorest neighborhoods don’t know what Islamists stand for, but are voting for them because they know them.”
Other analysts note that the victorious parties have tended to avoid forming coalitions with Islamic extremists, which led Mr. Gerges to predict that Arab voters will judge the Islamist parties on whether they continue their practice of helping the poor.
“We shouldn’t be surprised by the Islamists’ rise, but I think they will rise and fall on their ability to deliver the goods,” Mr. Gerges said of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and other “mainstream Islamists” in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.
“This is a return for Islamists making major investments in politics, welfare and society over the last 40 years.”
For Islamists across the Arab world, those investments are paying big dividends:
• In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring protests, the moderate Islamist party Ennahda has risen to power after winning the largest share of votes in recent parliamentary elections.
• In Morocco, King Mohammed VI appointed Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the Justice and Development Party, as that nation’s first prime minister after enacting reforms that strengthen the office.
• In Egypt, results from the first round of parliamentary elections last month showed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party leading, with 36.6 percent of the vote. The Al-Nour Party, a more fundamentalist Islamist group, was second, with 24.4 percent.
• Islamist parties are expected to dominate upcoming elections in Libya and Yemen.
In general, Islamists seek to base their government’s functions on their religion, usually a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam’s tenets and proscriptions. Some Islamists also seek to institute Shariah law over civil law.
Secularists and civil libertarians have expressed concerns about the prospect of Islamist-led governments limiting women’s rights and religious freedoms throughout the Arab world.
Islamist parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have been heavily involved in helping poor communities amid the oppression of the Arab world’s now-ousted, autocratic regimes, analysts said.
“[Muslim Brotherhood members] are the most organized and have been around for a long time,” said Kate Nevens, manager for the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, a London think tank.
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters' questions on book tour
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq