Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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EGYPT: Women need not apply

October 31, 2007 | 10:06 am

By recently calling for a ban on non-Muslims and women from running for the Egyptian presidency, the Muslim Brotherhood has reignited a debate over how genuine their espousal of democratic values is.

The 79-year-old Egyptian organization has been striving to project a democratic image for years. Yet, this new platform, circulated among intellectuals for the last few months, has shattered this image by arguing that women and Coptic Christians and other non-Muslims are incapable of meeting the religious requirements that would qualify them to assume Egypt's highest political office.

Besides the stir this ban has caused, the platform has exposed the internal rift between the doves and hawks in the nation's largest Islamic group. The former have expressed their endorsement of women's and Copts' full political rights on several occasions. However, the platform is a blow to their moderate discourse showing that hard-liners have a strong grip over the group.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo