Moody’s downgrades five Egyptian banks; outlook remains negative

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) gained most seats in the first round of Egypt’s first democratic parliamentary elections for six decades.

Following are some of the views espoused by the Brotherhood and the FJP on the economy, security, political reform, religion, culture and foreign policy, based on statements by members and the party programme:

POLITICS AND RELIGION

– FJP and Brotherhood officials say they want to build a modern, democratic state based on Islamic sharia law.

– The FJP says in its programme that legislation should be based on the principles of sharia and implemented with the agreement of a parliamentary majority.

– The programme talks of “spreading and deepening” the understanding of sharia as a way to guide individuals and society, echoing comments by officials who say they do not want to impose sharia on an unwilling population.It says followers of other religions would be governed by their own laws on religious matters.

– Asked whether the party would seek to make it a rule for Egyptian women to wear the Muslim veil, FJP Secretary-General Saad el-Katatni said: “I cannot draft a law that says an unveiled woman will be forbidden from this or that … (but) I must make her feel that her punishment is in the afterlife.” Most women in Egypt already wear a veil.

ECONOMY

– Broadly, Brotherhood leaders say the group supports a free-market economy with a strong private sector.

– Many Brotherhood members have big business interests, including in consumer goods such as furniture and clothing. They say they seek to emulate the Turkish experience in terms of economic growth with a focus on boosting manufacturing and exports, but say that does not mean they wish to follow Turkey’s political model.

– The group has said it seeks to gradually expand Islamic banking in Egypt as an alternative to commercial banking that would lure investors, but would leave both banking options available to consumers.

– Hassan Malek, one of the main financiers and business strategists of the Brotherhood, has said: “We want to attract as much foreign investment as possible… This needs a big role for the private sector.”

– Officials have tended to sidestep questions about whether the party would, for example, seek to ban alcohol, a move that would deter tourists, a major source of revenues and jobs.

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Moody’s downgrades five Egyptian banks; outlook remains negative