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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WaPo deja vu: Hamas 2005 and Muslim Brotherhood 2011 (David G)

From David G:

Yesterday the Washington Post featured an article, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood faces prospect of democracy amid internal discord

The gist of the article is, now that they have the obligation of running for office they'll be too busy to be extreme, not that they were extreme in the first place.

It was reminiscent of the sort of article you'd find about Hamas before the elections of 2006.

For example in late 2004 and early 2005, Hamas participated in several rounds of municipal elections and this is what the Washngton Post reported then.

In Gaza, New Hamas-Dominated Council Attends to Basics

Certain elements appear in each story.

1) Hamas is misunderstood by (Israel and) the West; but it is appreciated by the locals

1a) Gaza 2005

Hamas -- with its armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades -- is condemned by the United States as a terrorist organization and reviled by Israel as the perpetrator of some of the deadliest suicide bombings of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. At the same time, Hamas has won respect among Palestinians by providing education and health programs. Now, when the U.S. and Israeli governments are demanding greater democratization of the Palestinian Authority, voters in the West Bank and Gaza are handing a sizable share of power to a group that many U.S. and Israeli leaders associate more closely with terrorism than with political reform
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1b) Egypt 2011

Secular Egyptians and many in the West view the Brotherhood warily because it seeks to deepen the role of Islam in people's lives. Deeply religious Egyptians, meanwhile, view it as too liberal.

2) It is only one of the competing factions.


2a) Gaza 2005
Candidates aligned with Fatah, which has been the dominant Palestinian party for decades, have won the most local council seats overall in both Gaza and the West Bank. But Hamas has been victorious in the larger, more influential cities where it has capitalized on disorganization and bickering within Fatah, as well as its reputation for corruption.

2b) Egypt 2011
After decades of fighting for the right to participate openly in politics, Egypt's largest opposition movement soon will face competition from emerging political factions, led by tech-savvy young Egyptians, as the country gears up for what could be its first fair election.
The Islamist group also is facing internal discord, with a handful of young members breaking away. Some say they disapprove of its rigid top-down leadership structure and its politics.

3) De-emphasis of religion

3a) Gaza 2005
In Beit Hanoun, and in communities across Gaza and the West Bank, Islamic politicians are earning wide support using old-fashioned tactics valued the world over: fixing potholes, picking up garbage and turning on the lights.

3b) Egypt 2011
Since Mubarak's ouster, the Brotherhood has offered few signs that it aspires to transform Egypt into a repressive Islamic state. The group bills itself as a moderate movement that seeks to broaden the appeal of Islam from the ground up. It also has long lobbied for a democratic system that ensures freedom of expression and term limits.
Luckily, we have the benefit of hindsight to see how Hamas ended up.

Too bad reporters cannot seem to learn from their mistakes.