Free rat poison is Egypt's latest campaign promise from Muslim Brotherhood


Rats look for food at the Beaumont Street waterfront in Auckland, New Zealand.


Ross Land

Ridding the streets of rats appears to be the latest campaign strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, in Egypt.

Locals are complaining loudly lately of rats and other vermin polluting the streets of Alexandria, the second-largest city in Egypt. 

So with the nation poised to vote in parliamentary elections, the FJP appeared in Alexandria passing out rat poison.

GlobalPost's correspondent in Egypt, Erin Cunningham, says the rat exterminating is indicative of the Muslim Brotherhood's outreach to the poor — particularly at local levels and especially during a campaign season.

"Official campaigning for the upcoming parliamentary race has not yet been sanctioned, so assistance programs like these are likely there to fill in the gap," Cunningham says.

"The Islamists often chastise their liberal opponents for being out of touch with the Egyptian street and highly unlikely to head out to the country’s slums in the name of rodent control," she adds.

The liberal parties are not interested in the provinces and “the simple people,” former Brotherhood parliamentarian in Fayoum, Hamdy Taha, told GlobalPost last week. “Many of them do not like to make the effort to sit in simple places. They would rather sit in more comfortable places. But going to the streets, this is not something that they do.”

Leading the charge was FJP secretary for Alexandria, Saber El-Merey, Ahram Online said.

No date for the parliamentary elections has been set; however, Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA announced this week that expatriate Egyptians can begin registering to vote today.

This next round of voting will end Egypt’s transitional period since an uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring.

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In the first parliamentary election, Islamist parties dominated the voting and won about 60 percent of ballots.

It figures to be another fiercely debated vote, with reformers and centrists announcing this week a possible coalition.

Constitution Party founder Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday that he’s open to an alliance with other democratic parties in Egypt.

“Egypt is currently going through a tough phase in its history that requires us all to work together to fulfill the demands of the revolution," ElBaradei told Ahram Online.

Follow Erin Cunningham @erinmcunningham, who contributed to this report.