International Affairs Middle East — 22 October 2011
Libyan Opposition: Any Lessons from Egypt?

The killing of Gaddafi and images of his blood stained body being dragged on the streets of Sirte, has had a profound impact in Cairo, which itself witnessed the removal of a tyrant not long ago. The vibrant city briefly came to a standstill with people vying to catch the images of the humiliated Gaddafi and join in the celebrations with their brethren across the self imposed colonial border.

The jubilation in Libya is likely to mirror that of Egypt and at the same time give rise to a number of questions, particularly concerning whether the Islamic opposition in Libya can learn from its counterparts in Egypt?

The revolution in Egypt no doubt has not gone according to plan, with the political system and constitution undergoing cosmetic adjustments but maintaining its secular character from top to bottom.

The Islamic opposition, such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been happy to accept minimal changes to the political system, which has allowed it to form a political party and prepare itself for the upcoming parliamentary elections. At the same time, the Salafi movement, has entered the political battle field after years of dormancy and created the Hizb al Nour, as its political wing.

Both have used the desire of the people to see Islam exist as a political ideology but unfortunately both have been led by the political system that has led to compromise and co-optation.

The MB are aware of this given their 20 years existence in the political system, whereas the Salafi movement with no political experience has blindly adopted a political approach, without learning from the experiences of the MB and other Islamic parties in the Muslim world.

Working with the parameters of the political system is a failed approach, which can clearly be seen in Egypt, both historically and at the present time.

The Islamic movement in Libya has to learn fast from previous experiments and avoid the trappings which have befallen those that have entered the political systems.

Time will tell whether the Libyan Islamic opposition is bitten like those before, or whether it follows a path of political shrewdness that protects it from co-optation of the secular system.

The Libyan revolution has seen bloodshed for real rather than cosmetic change, and it is for the Islamic opposition to meet the Islamic aspirations of the people with sincerity and precision or step aside, as this would be better in the long run rather than the people being mislead and deceived by a politically naive and co-opted opposition.

 

[Editor’s note: See also related articles:

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: Agents of change or status-quo?

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Politics of Appeasement]

 

Dr. Mohammed Zahid is an academic in Middle East politics, with a special focus on North Africa and Islamic movements. He has published widely in peer reviewed journals and provided consultation to a a number of governmental bodies and private institutions. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect New Civilisation’s editorial policy.

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