Saturday, December 03, 2011

Meanwhile, in Egypt And Elsewhere

Early election results:
Two major Islamist political parties prevailed in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, an election official told CNN Saturday.

The Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, received 40% and Al Noor Salafi Movement won 20% of the said Yousri Abdel Kareem, head of the executive office of the Higher Judicial Election council.

Al Noor Salafi, a hardline group, and the Muslim Brotherhood, a more moderate movement, each claimed a lead after votes were cast on Monday and Tuesday.
It is probably too early to predict what this, and similar victories by Islamist parties in Morocco and Tunisia might mean for women's rights and status in the respective societies.

But none of the winning parties campaigned on the expansion of women's rights. This suggests that those rights will not be expanded. Whether they will be shrunk or not remains to be seen. The Al Noor Salafi group wants to impose more rules on women. The practical policies of the other, more moderate Islamist parties with victories in those three countries are harder to predict.

But I'm not optimistic. The lessons from earlier revolutions (including the Iranian revolution and the post-Berlin-Wall changes in the ex-Soviet bloc) remind us that women are unlikely to be among the direct beneficiaries. Rather the reverse, for some women, at least.