Egypt has long been the touchstone of the Arab world. The protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square that ended with Mubarak retiring to his villa on the Red Sea riveted the Middle East. That drama suggests that Egypt's post-revolutionary era — its emerging blend of politics and Islam — will have tremendous influence on what evolves in coming generations across the region.More at the link above.
The political Islam popular in Egypt strikes more the tone of the moderate Muslim party running Turkey than the fundamentalist theocracies presiding over Saudi Arabia and Iran. Political parties based solely on religion are still illegal here, but the military council ruling the country has astounded many by permitting Islam a wider role. Analysts suggest this tolerance is calculated so that in coming months the army can hand over the nation to an elected parliament after assurances from the Brotherhood that it will not run a candidate for president.
Egypt is not the only nation where Islamic messages are whispering alongside the clamor of revolt. In Yemen, religious radicals are seeking to exploit anti-government protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally against Al Qaeda. In Syria, conservative Sunni Muslims more antagonistic toward Israel than President Bashar Assad could fill the vacuum if his government is toppled.
The Muslim Brotherhood's calls for a relatively mainstream Islamic government appeals to its majority of educated and professional members. In Egypt's first taste of true democracy, the Brotherhood and more fundamentalist Salafist organizations, however, told followers that it was their religious duty to vote to approve a referendum on constitutional amendments that benefited Islamists by speeding up elections.
One of Egypt's leading ultraconservative sheiks, Mohamed Hussein Yacoub, influenced by Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi strain of Islam, was quoted as saying after the referendum had passed: "That's it. The country is ours."
Such sentiment shows that in a span of weeks, age-old religion, not the enthusiasm and slogans of the Facebook generation, is likely to be a crucial factor in choosing a new Egyptian government. This swift change has surprised even the Brotherhood, which avoided references to Islam during an uprising that was not inspired by religion.
And at the New York Times previously, "Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt." And at Director Blue, "The Rise of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Right on Cue."