- March 8, 2006
Exclusive Interview With New Jordanian Brotherhood Chairman
Mr. Abdel Mageed el-Zanebate, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s chairman, chose not to run for a fourth term to give a chance for young leaders to steer the Islamic action in Jordan. This decision sharply contradicts the undemocratic practices by Arab regimes which have dominated power for years. IkhwanWeb had a conversation with the new chairman Mr. Salem el-Falahat who came to office as a result of Zanebate’s wise decision.
Ikhwanweb: First of all, we would like to congratulate on your success in elections
El-Falahat: Thank you, and may God reward you on this gentle consideration and I invoke Allah to help me with the new responsibility.
Ikhwanweb: What is your assessment of the previous stage? and What is your agenda for the upcoming period?
El-Falahat: The Muslim Brotherhood has a great history in Jordan for it has been founded since 1945. Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been senior officials in the Jordanian government.
While the political process in Jordan has been developing, the group kept on its social and political role. The Muslim Brotherhood has become the most influential movement in Jordan. Since the beginning of 1950s, the group has participated in the parliament. The period between1970-1984 has seen a major parliamentary presentation of the group. Then the Muslim Brotherhood has begun to join trade unions. Most of the group’s candidates have won in the eleventh parliament. In fact, 1990 has represented the turning point of the group’s history when it held five posts in the cabinet of Mr. Madr Badran. Form that time on, the Brotherhood has turned from a religious organization that sometimes engaged into political action to a group of a distinctive and unparalleled political weight in Jordan.
In 1992, the group founded the Party of Islamic Action Front to be its political wing. The party became at the vanguard of opposition parties. It developed good relations with leftists, secularists and other trends for the benefit of the country. Accordingly, most powers accepted the party’s call to boycott 1997 elections to press for introducing amendments to the election law or the so-called one-vote law.
As for my agenda during my term in office, I would like to indicate that the Brotherhood’s program is definite; it is not bound to certain officials. Actually, the group’s decision is subject to the principle of shorah and is not restricted to the leadership. Therefore, the major concerns and vital issues of the group are unchangeable, which include;
1-The focus on the inner structure to make sure that it is correctly conformable to Islam and the ideology of Imam Hassan el-Banah, proved to be the fittest to our Islamic civilization.
2-The domestic front is one of the group’s primary concerns. The Brotherhood seeks to solve problems of citizens, achieve welfare of the country, and amend restrictive laws to open the genuine political action before the entire society.
3-The foreign axis which concerns with affaires of the nation. The Zionist occupation in the Palestinian territories is on the western border of Jordan and on the other borders is Iraq which becomes in a quandary due to a misleading American pretext of spread democracy in the Arab world. In stead, our dear Iraq is engulfed into a state of blood and corruption. In this respect, we have a firmly fixed belief that the future is for Islam, as Mr. Said Qotb said, may Allah rest his soul.
Ikhwanweb: What is the mechanism of the group’s elections? Does it apply to all organizational levels of the group?
El-Falahat: The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood applies a fixed and democratic mechanism of elections starting from its 35 nationwide affiliations to the Shorah Council which elects the chairman and the Executive Bureau. This year’s elections followed the same procedure except that the chairman and his deputy were also eletected since Mr. Abdel Mageed chose not to run to open the door before young leadership. His step in fact is a unique initiative in Jordan and Islamic states.
Ikhwanweb: Some observers regard your success a rise of the moderate tendency, are there really various tendencies inside the Jordanian Brotherhood?
El-Falahat: The Jordanian Brotherhood is moderate in its ideology, mechanism of action, and methodology just like the Brotherhood in other states. Had not the group been non-extreme, it would not of survived for sixty years.
As for the moderate tendency and similar classifications, they are not but untrue press categories since the entire group is moderate in essence. Nevertheless, I can not deny some differences of views inside the group which is a sound indication. However, we can not say that the group contains assorted ideological trends.
Ikhwanweb: Is there interference between the group and its party of the Islamic Action Front? Are there contradictory statements?
El-Falahat: The party enjoys full independency form the group where it has its own system and bylaw. However, some official, of course, are of the Brotherhood. Therefore, different views and statements regards the foreign affaires are welcome on contrary to domestic affaires where full coordination in both stances and statements takes place.
Ikhwanweb: How do you explain the swung relation with the Jordanian government?
El-Falahat: Undeniably, this state applies to all Islamist and non Islamist movements in the entire Arab and Islamic worlds. Virtually, there are number of changes that affect the relation between the group and the regime such as the foreign pressures. For example, the American pressures before and after Sep 11th have been altered so that the regime’s policy changes accordingly. However, the group adopts unchanging policy toward successive governments. In fact, difference with the government is not so profound.
Ikhwanweb: What is the formal stance of the Jordanian Brotherhood toward el-Bianony-Khadam meeting?
El-Falahat: In fact, the meeting between el-Bianony, a leader of the Syrian Brotherhood, and Khadam who broke away from the Syrian regime caused wide clamor. In fact, we should first know the nature of relation between the Syrian Brotherhood and the regime to understand the Brotherhood’s stance. The Brotherhood in Syria faces coercive measures, for example, Law 49 sentences all members of the Brotherhood to death. Such uprooting policy categorically influences the attitude of Brotherhood towards the government.
The Syrian Brotherhood face a serious problem whether to keep on or halt pressures on the regime on this moment, especially admit heavy American pressures on Syria. Anyway, we welcome the decision of the Syrian Brotherhood and its mechanism to deal with the Syrian government. Yet, we call on the Syrian and all Arab regimes to reshape their stances and to reconciliate with their nations via achieving real reform.