Riots at Egyptian polling stations

It's easy to have a non-violent election: just make sure that all the parties agree to lose the next election and/or the one after that.

Balanced News Blog reports on violence at yesterday's final round of voting for the Egyptian parliament. The government's claims that the riots were provoked do not seem to be backed up by foreign reporters (but then this is the crew that showed us the return of Ayatollah Khomeni to Iran in 1979 as the dawn of democracy in that country, and informs us that two car bombs a day in Bagdad is evidence of a massive insurgency).

A shockingly naive view of Islamist politics, but which contains details of government repression in trying to limit Muslim Brotherhood election gains can be found in the New York Times [subscription may be required].

I may be doing the Muslim Brotherhood an injustice (I would be happy to stand corrected). I recall that in October 1992 for instance, it was Islamic volunteer efforts, allied to the Brotherhood, not the government, which organized effective relief efforts (food, water, tents) after the Cairo earthquake. The suspicion remains whether the appetite for democracy by Islamist parties is down to their failure to effect regime change through violence, and if they would allow an election to take place in which a non-Islamic party took their place in power. The historical evidence appears to be non-existent on the latter score.

The Egyptian government should never of course have repressed its citizens for so long that only an Islamist party offers an alternative. The Copts (Egypt's Christian minority) must be looking South at the genocidal warfare in the Sudan and wondering if the same could happen in Egypt.

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