Following its big win in the first round of parliamentary elections, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to reassure Egyptians that it would not sacrifice personal freedoms in promoting Islamic law.
Speaking to The Associated Press, the deputy head of the Brotherhood’s new political party, Essam el-Erian, said the group is not interested in imposing Islamic values on Egypt.
“We represent a moderate and fair party,” el-Erian said. “We want to apply the basics of Sharia law in a fair way that respects human rights and personal rights.”
The comments were an indication that the Brotherhood was distancing itself from the ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, which appears to have won the second-largest share of votes.
The Nour Party advocates for a strict interpretation of Sharia, where the sexes are segregated and women must be veiled and are barred from driving.
El-Erian clarified, however, that the Brotherhood does not share Nour’s hard-line aspirations to strictly enforce Islamic codes in Egyptians’ daily lives.
“We respect all people in their choice of religion and life,” he told AP.
El-Erian also urged the Brotherhood’s political rivals to accept the election results.
“We all believe that our success as Egyptians toward democracy is a real success and we want everyone to accept this democratic system. This is the guarantee for stability,” he said.
So far, Egypt’s election commission has released few official results from the voting on Monday and Tuesday. However, preliminary counts have been leaked by judges and individual political groups, and they show that the Muslim Brotherhood and Nour could together control a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament if they form an alliance.
The Brotherhood recently denied in a statement that it seeks to form an alliance with the Nour Party in parliament, calling it “premature and mere media speculation.”
Meanwhile on Saturday, Middle East expert Dr. David Bukay said that the Muslim Brotherhood winning Egypt’s elections means that Israel’s worst fears regarding its relationship with the Arab world are coming true before its eyes.
“The rise of the Islamists in Egypt means the end of the peace treaty with Egypt and the rise of a government committed to the ideological Islamist goal of the destruction of the State of Israel,” Bukay told Arutz Sheva.
“It was already clear to me last February that the uprisings in the Arab world were not an ‘Arab spring,’ but rather a bitter ‘Arab winter’ and a return to chaos and violence,” he added. “When you give a Muslim a free voice in electing his leaders, he will pick an Islamist leadership every time, because that's what he knows and appreciates. That the Muslim Brotherhood will solve Egypt’s problems is clear to the average Egyptian.”