Egypt govt appoints Islamists to head state institutions

Cairo: Egypt's Islamist leadership took a new move yesterday to put its stamp on the country's government, appointing members of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood as provincial governors and installing ultraconservatives and other Islamists in the state's top human rights body and a powerful media council.

The shake-up was the latest step by President Mohammed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood to reshape state institutions that were long the monopoly of ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, his ruling party and the military that backed him.

Supporters have praised the moves as part of a drive to cleanse the system of Mubarak loyalists after Mursi was inaugurated in late June as the country's first freely elected president.

 Egypt govt appoints Islamists to head state institutions

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi.

But the heavy infusion of Islamists into government institutions has raised fears of Brotherhood domination monopolising power as much as Mubarak did and moving Egypt into a more religious rule.

The governorships of Egypt's 27 provinces have long been prime posts for solidifying the president's power. The governors are appointed by the president and generally implement his policies. Under Mubarak, the positions went to retired military generals or ruling party loyalists.

Yesterday, Mursi's office announced 10 new governors. Four of the new names are leading members of the Brotherhood, taking the posts in the southern provinces of Minya and Assiout two areas with heavy Christian populations and the Nile Delta provinces of Kafr el-Sheikh and Menoufia, a stronghold of former regime supporters.

In a gesture to Egypt's still powerful military, three of the new governors are retired generals.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said the new governors were chosen based on their "good reputation, not party affiliation."

Another significant shakeup came in the National Council for Human Rights, a body that Mubarak created in his final years in response to demands for greater respect for human rights. The council, once headed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, was touted as a rights watchdog over the government.

Other rights groups dismissed it as toothless.

However after the revolution, it played an active role in proposing to parliament bills against torture and discrimination against Christians and formed fact-finding missions to investigate killings of anti-military protesters.

The new 27-member council includes at least seven Islamists, including several members of the ultraconservative Salafi movement, which advocates a strict, segregationist interpretation of Islam similar to Saudi Arabia's.

Many Salafis have voiced opposition to international human rights treaties as "Westernised" standards and to many women's rights advocates they feel are un-Islamic. They also oppose equal political rights between Muslims and Christians.

AP

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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2012 11:21:30 IST