IN THE FIRST ROUND of Egypt's parliamentary elections, the hardline Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6 percent of the vote -- a plurality -- and the even harder-line Salafist party, Al-Nour, won 24.4 percent. The Egyptian Bloc -- a coalition of liberal, social-democratic, and secular parties -- drew only 13.4 percent. So now we know what the "Spirit of Tahrir Square" looks like when it's put to a vote: In the world's largest Arab nation, the forces of sharia and jihad are winning in a landslide.
The credo of the Muslim Brotherhoodis explicitly illiberal and theocratic: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Abdel Moneim el-Shahat, a Salafist sheik and Nour Party candidate, demands a society in which "sharia is obligatory" -- an Egypt, as he explained in a public debate, with "citizenship restricted by Islamic sharia, freedom restricted by Islamic sharia, equality restricted by Islamic sharia."
Sad to say, these are the fundamentalist blooms of the Arab Spring. The Islamist ascendancy – in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt this year, as in Gaza and (non-Arab) Turkey previously -- bodes ill for the region's moderate and tolerant Muslims. Whistling past the graveyard, the editor of The Daily Star in Beirut exhorts the world to "Celebrate the Democratic Arab Moment," and declares that the commitment of Arab societies to democratic openness and pluralism "now seems firmly affirmed." Indeed, he says, it "was never in doubt, except perhaps in the minds of lingering colonialists and racists." The anti-Islamist liberals getting wiped out in Egypt's elections might beg to differ.
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