Over the weekend, the Muslim Brotherhood’s new party, Freedom and Justice, took 36.6 per cent of the vote in Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections. Al-Nour, a more radical Islamist party came second with 24 per cent. The outcome of the elections thus looks set: Islamists will hold the controlling power in any new and democratic Egypt.

This outcome should not come as a surprise: persecuted by the Egyptian state for many years, Islamists have been able to unite in a political opposition movement that is far better organised than many of its secular and liberal counterparties.

The great question on the minds of many Western leaders is whether, after its own experience of disenfranchisement and oppression, the Muslim Brotherhood will be able and ready to tackle the deep social unrest and factionalism now plaguing Egypt’s future. Furthermore, having won the right to full participation in Egyptian society, will it now grant that same right to religious minorities that hitherto have been denied the same privilege.

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