Mohammed ElBaradei
Mohammed ElBaradeiFlash 90

Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt’s top reformist leader and a possible presidential candidate, said on Sunday the liberal youth behind the country’s uprising have been “decimated” in parliamentary elections dominated by Islamists.

In an interview with The Associated Press, ElBaradei expressed concern about the rise of hard-line religious elements advocating extremist ideas such as banning women from driving.

He told AP he hopes moderate Islamists will rein in the extremists and send a reassuring message to the world that Egypt will not go down an ultraconservative religious path.

“The youth feel let down. They don’t feel that any of the revolution’s goals have been achieved,” ElBaradei said on the same day electoral authorities announced that Islamist parties captured an overwhelming majority of votes in the first round of elections last week. “They got decimated,” he added.

According to results announced Sunday by Egypt’s High Election Commission, the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6 percent of the votes. The Nour Party, representing the more hard-line Salafi Islamists, captured 24.4 percent.

ElBaradei told AP he thought the combined strength of the two top-placed Islamist blocs surprised everyone, probably even the winning parties themselves, and said the outcome “is not the greatest one.”

The new parliament will be tasked, in theory, with selecting a 100-member panel to draft the new constitution, and ElBaradei said writing the constitution that respects human rights, dignity and freedom of expression should be based on a consensus among all the players, and not on a parliamentary majority.

He raised concerns about statements by some Salafi elements questioning whether women should be banned from driving, as they are in Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, the Muslim Brotherhood sought to reassure Egyptians that it would not sacrifice personal freedoms in promoting Islamic law.

The deputy head of the Brotherhood’s political party said the group represents “a moderate and fair party” and that it wishes “to apply the basics of Sharia law in a fair way that respects human rights and personal rights.”

He clarified that the Brotherhood does not share Nour’s hard-line aspirations to strictly enforce Islamic codes in Egyptians’ daily lives.

ElBaradei predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood will prefer to form an alliance with the liberals rather than the Salafis to get a majority in parliament. He added, however, that this will not produce a parliament that represents Egyptian society and includes many, if at all, women, youths or Coptic Christians.