Islamic Extremists Spread Throughout Egypt, Some Fear

With the first democratic elections held in Egypt in more than 60 years, some are concerned that it will pave the way for Islamic extremists and Sharia law to be the ruling force in years to come.

While President Hosni Mubarak was in power, there was notion of security for nearly eight million Christians Copts. Yet, time has ushered in a new governing body. The Muslim Brotherhood that was outlawed under Mubarak sits poised to take a majority of parliamentary seats. The official results will not be in until January but there is already speculation that the brotherhood, now under the Freedom and Justice Party, will amass more than 40 percent of the vote.

The parties’ offices are located in an apartment in a residential district on the Nile. One of the group’s leaders, Essam al-Erian, in an interview with Reuters, outlined a political agenda that has drawn similarities with other moderate Islamist groups throughout the region.

"Now is the time for us to build a modern country, a modern state of law, a democratic state," said Essam al-Erian.

“We hope that when we build a modern democratic country in Egypt this will be a good example, inspiring others to build democracy," he added.

This is the most recent example of a growing trend in the North African and Middle East regions who are calling for the resignations of current leaders and in their place erecting Islamic ruling parties.

For Morocco, and new moderate Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane, it will be the first religious party to head a government in the North African Country. The victory for Benkirane and his Justice and Development Party, owed its victory in the Nov. 25 parliamentary elections to the pro-reform Arab Spring movements.

Moreover, in Tunisia, the new Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali expressed his policies while reassuring Americans that it would not be Islamist.

Some critics said such language masks goals of turning the region into an Islamic region by using stealth and curbing freedoms for religious minorities.

Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani does have a more optimistic and perhaps practical view on the developments within the region. He was quoted on Thursday and said Islamists were likely to represent political power in the Arab world. In addition, western countries should accept them adding that moderate Islamists could help combat extremist ideology, he said.

"We shouldn't fear them, let's cooperate with them. We should not have a problem with anyone who operates within the norms of international law, comes to power and fights terrorism," said the prime minister to the Financial Times.

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