Egypt looking to fill void at the top

CAIRO, Egypt (Feb. 2) — With news that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will soon step aside in the wake of massive anti-government protests, the question now turns to who will fill the power vacuum he’ll leave behind.

Some are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement with ties to jihadist groups, could rise to prominence. But many observers doubt the youthful, mostly secular crowds that paved the way for Mubarak’s ouster will support such anti-Western sentiment. A more moderate arm of the group, the so-called Muslim Cousinhood (MC), could offer the mix of strict Sharia law and a thriving nightclub scene that many of the protesters might be willing to endorse.

“The Muslim Brotherhood, they are too radical for most of us,” said MC spokesman Abdul Rahman. “We are comfortable accommodating many Western ideals, and believe in maintaining our peace treaty with Israel. The Brotherhood wants to see an end to the Jewish state and wishes to drive the Israelis into the sea. We merely want to push them as far as the shoreline, where we think they’ll be quite comfortable in their seaside cabanas.”

Another group that could move in to fill the void is the all-girl power pop band of the ’80s known as The Bangles. With their 1986 hit “Walk Like An Egyptian,” they made a strong case for pan-Arab pride, as they urged not only the heirs to this ancient civilization but also “the Japanese with their yen, the party boys [in] the Kremlin and … all the cops in the donut shop” to stand tall in the modern world.

Although the band has little in its background to suggest members could govern a nation of some 80 million people, they did oversee several successful reunion tours in recent years. And it’s thought that their modern take on the traditional call to prayer — “whey-oh whey-oh whey-oh whey-oh” — could resonate with both those who favor the old ways and those with a love of jangly folk-rock.

“We have a new version of the song we’re recording now,” said lead singer Susanna Hoffs. “It’s called ‘Walk Like An Egyptian (But Riot Like A Maniac)’. Instead of instructing listeners to ‘slide your feet, bend your back, shift your arm, then pull it back,’ we’re urging people to pelt the police with rocks and Molotov cocktails. It’s going to have a really kicky beat.”

Many traditionalists in Egypt want to see a more gradual emergence onto the international stage for this key American ally. Some are starting to rally around Tea Party Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann as someone who could at least serve in an interim capacity as president.

“We are very proud of our heritage, as exemplified by the many silhouettes of human forms found among the ancient hieroglyphs,” said conservative cleric Muhammad Baralak. “These traditionally show the body facing forward while the head is turned at a 90-degree profile. This stance was very hard on our necks and shoulders, and made it difficult for people standing right in front of us to hear us when we spoke. We believe that Rep. Bachmann’s speaking posture, with her head turned only perhaps 10 or 15 degrees to the side, represents a compromise we could live with.”

Other possible successors to Mubarak are considered much more of a long shot. Some in the throngs that have overtaken Tahrir Square want to see the winner of this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV form a provisional government, headed either by Pittsburgh’s defensive MVP Troy Polamalu or Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Others have expressed an interest in troubled TV star Charlie Sheen, thinking he could be convinced sand is cocaine. Many in the older generations have fond memories of Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of Cleopatra, and would accept either her or Zsa Zsa Gabor taking the reins of power.

“We heard that one of them is near death, but I can’t remember which one it is,” said one opposition leader. “We want whichever one looks like they’re going to live longer.”

In any case, it looks as though the man many believed would eventually succeed his father sees his political future in tatters. Ethan Mubarak tried one last desperate attempt to rally the nation in support of his candidacy with a bold proposal to address Egypt’s chronic economic woes.

“Look, man, we could, like, sell the pyramids and the Sphinx. Well, maybe not sell them outright, but at least sell the naming rights,” the 32-year-old Ethan told reporters earlier this week. “Instead of the Great Pyramid of Giza, it might be the Great Pyramid of, or the Great Pyramid of Tostitos. We could make millions.”


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