Egyptian presidential hopeful Amr Moussa on Monday called on the Arab world’s Islamist parties to embrace the principles of democracy and modernity.
Speaking at a Dubai conference on the future challenges of state-building in the region, he added that the success of Islamists in recent polls was a natural consequence of the democratic process.
“We cannot talk about democracy and then object to the results. Democracy is about what the people want,” said Moussa responding to the dominance of Islamist parties in parliamentary elections in Egypt and Tunisia after uprisings in both countries overthrew entrenched dictators.
“But for those elected to power, they must understand that...they need to join this era and not disengage from it,” he said echoing fears among liberals in the region that newly empowered religious groups will curb freedoms and seek to enforce draconian interpretations of Islamic law.
Egypt on Tuesday wrapped up the opening round of the first parliamentary elections since autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, with Islamists winning a landslide victory at the expense of weakened and divided liberals.
Results showed that 65 percent of voters chose Islamist parties, with one in four opting for hard-line Salafist candidates who follow a very strict interpretation of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are banned from driving.
In Tunisia, the once-banned Islamist Ennahda party won 89 of 217 seats in the new assembly that will rewrite the constitution and appoint a president and caretaker government.
The October polls were the first since long-time leader Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his staunchly secular regime were ousted in a popular uprising in January.