(ABC Aus.) Religion and Ethics Report: The battle for the soul of Egyptian Islam

Andrew West: Are there any parties in the parliament that we in the west would recognise as being vaguely liberal, or social democratic?

Jess Hill: Yes, the Al-Wafd party, which is one of the oldest parties in Egypt, that was probably the third most popular party. And then there’s a conglomerate of smaller liberal parties. Really, the people calling the shots are the Brotherhood. And then in second priority is the Salafi party Al-Nour.

Andrew West: What implications do these results hold for the impending presidential elections in June?

Jess Hill: It certainly feels like every person you speak to has a different opinion. But essentially most people agree that a presidential candidate will need the backing of the Brotherhood in order to succeed. So, I think, you know, there’s a few favourites, there’s one candidate who is a former Muslim Brotherhood member, who has got a lot of respect from both people within the Brotherhood and from the secularists. That’s looking like a possibility, but you wouldn’t see somebody of the ilk of al-Barad’i, for example, who’s dropped out of the candidacy, winning the elections. They are definitely going to have to be able to step in line at least somewhat with the Brotherhood.

Andrew West: If the Islamists, broadly speaking, control almost three-quarters of the parliament, how monolithic or diverse is that Muslim block?

Jess Hill: It’s very diverse.

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