Steve Coll, writing in the New Yorker, concludes -- tentatively:
... The Brotherhood is at once a revolutionary, antidemocratic movement and an adaptable force that can be co-opted at times into peaceful democratic politics. In that respect, it resembles international Communism during the Cold War: that ideological movement produced both Italy’s elected, technocratic Communist mayors and the Soviet Union’s Stalinist gulags.
Never before, however, has the Egyptian Brotherhood faced such stark choices about accommodating democratic opponents. In part, that is because the Brotherhood has never been so close to holding national power. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party has shown that an Islamist opposition movement can adapt to governing in a pluralistic system (even if the party’s authoritarian tendencies taint the government’s performance, as has happened in Turkey). But many Brotherhood branches have failed to make the transition from fevered opposition to power sharing and governing when given the opportunity. The direction that Mohamed Morsi steers in during the weeks ahead may define the limits—or the potential—of Islamist politics in the Arab world for many years to come. ...Coll, New Yorker
Watching the atmosphere in Egypt during the run-up to the vote on the proposed constitution tomorrow (Friday 12/14), Juan Cole writes:
Both the relatively secular forces and the fundamentalist religious parties were furiously canvassing on Thursday, holding rallies and meetings all over the country. The Muslim Brotherhood plans to harangue voters after Friday prayers later today.
The Salafi-Jihadi hard line group forbade its followers (who are not that numerous) from participating in the referendum, saying that only God can legislate and that democracy is incompatible with Islam. This view, which once had wide currency, is now that of a tiny fringe. ...Informed Comment