Isolation is recipe for more unrest

18 July 2013

The exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood from the political process threatens further violence

The 34 newly appointed ministers to Egypt’s interim government include three women and three Coptic Christians, but the glaring absence of any Islamist representatives is worrying for the future stability of Egypt.

Before the ousting of President Mohamed Mursi on 3 July, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, and the Salafist Al-Nour party held 350 seats in the now dissolved lower house of parliament. Today, they have no formal representation in government.

The Muslim Brotherhood has flatly rejected the interim government, referring to it as “illegitimate”, and continues to demand the reinstatement of Mursi.

The Islamist group is feeling increasingly marginalised in Egypt. Its leaders have been arrested and its assets frozen. The Al-Nour party is also refusing to participate in the new government despite its early support for the ousting of Mursi.

The exclusion of two major Islamist groups poses a threat to a peaceful transition in Egypt. Both the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood operated in the fringes of Egyptian politics for many years, until the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 gave them an opportunity to win legitimate political influence.

The Brotherhood mismanaged that opportunity, which has resulted in Islamist parties being pushed to the sidelines once more, a situation that could have worrying consequences for all.

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