• MB News
  • July 10, 2011
  • 13 minutes read

Future of the Muslim Brotherhood Debated

Future of the Muslim Brotherhood Debated

There has been a lot of talk lately that within the MB there have been disagreements and a split of generations, as well as the emergence of numerous writings about the aging of the group and its breaking apart, along with the collapse of its main pillars and basic foundations and a massive rebellion among the group’s youth (see, for example a book by Khalil Al-Anani: The Muslim Brotherhood: an Aging Group Struggling against Time.")

The situation turned dramatically after the January 25th Revolution, where another wave of escalated arguments emerged regarding the serious threat of the massive organizational capacity of the Brotherhood, the group’s so-called ‘dangerous political maneuvers’ and the blunt talk from some parties and individuals about the threat posed by the Brotherhood as the most organized group and the one most prepared for the elections.
There has also been talk about the Brothers’ insistence on "Elections First" versus "Constitution First ", where the MB’s critics deny that the call for elections is based on the people’s choice shown in the referendum and their desire to bring about stability. The tone of the secular camp was that the Brotherhood desires to control the next parliament. Despite the insistence of the Brotherhood that it does not harbor any desire to have a dominant political presence against or at the expense of others, and that it is not willing to compete for all the seats in parliament and that the group joined later the broader "democratic alliance" with other parties and political forces, warnings against the MB and the tone and language of intimidation continued.
Finally, both streams intersected, through the promotion of the idea that there is a conflict between the youth and the elders within the group on the one hand, and the promotion of the notion of the danger posed by the Muslim Brotherhood and the criticism of the party that represents the group, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), on the other.

The security campaigns against the Brotherhood by the former regime of Hosni Mubarak, his minister of interior, Habib Al-Adli, and his intelligence service led by Omar Suleiman, could not eliminate the group’ during the previous era, and neither could the disinformation and defamation campaigns against the MB, which were led by the state media controlled by the former ruling NDP, distort the image of the group in the public eye. And still, the latest trend in the campaign against the group came in the post-revolution phase in the form of ferrous political competition and intellectual and media movements. In this case, the attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood – from the viewpoint of the "clash of youth against the elders" – proved to be the strongest and most effective of all.
The January 25th Revolution definitely represented a new era for the Muslim Brotherhood, both in terms of the demise of a large part (yet not fully) of the security obstacle imposed on its members (as there are still political prisoners and many brothers – and others – in detention in Mubarak’s security facilities and military prisons, in addition to lists of travel bans that are still being imposed, despite some leniency in application in some cases recently), or in terms of opening up the political arena and the media that allows the group to express itself intellectually and politically. In this context, the FJP was founded as the political party that reflects the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, but also as an independent party ideologically, organizationally and financially from the MB. In this sense, the new party has its own political terms through which it operates specifically, while the Muslim Brotherhood as a group remains effective at the level of religious preaching and public action in particular.  

Hence, the establishment of the Freedom and Justice Party answered the question or the proposal laid before about turning the group into a purely religious one, or making it merely a political entity, or the so-called separation between religious and political action, on a background that is similar – to a large extent – to the idea of ??separation between ‘religion and politics’ and ‘religion and state’.
The FJP has become the clear expression and representation of the Muslim Brotherhood politically, and has become – in terms of its intellectual and organizational formation and practice – the political formula of the Brotherhood. Therefore, what applies to the FJP as a political party in terms of organization and structure should be exactly similar to the rules applicable to all other parties; in terms of the need to adhere to the charter and regulations of the party, and affiliation to the party and not to others simultaneously. This also applies to affiliation to the ‘group’, because belonging to another party or group would mean belonging to maybe various other ideological and political visions and organizational and programmatic settings.
Such visualization and analysis of the phenomenon of the resignation or exclusion of some members of the Brotherhood from the structure and organization of ‘the group’ – when they create other parties on their own or join another political party other than the FJP– was presented by one of the group’s leaders of the middle-aged generation who actually belongs to the media arm of the group; not the direct political one. He is Engineer Khalid Hamza, head of Ikhwanweb, who said: "It is natural that new and different ideological configurations and combinations might arise in any party, movement or group. It is also natural to see detachments, splits or defections happening when the people holding these new perceptions leave and abandon the old structure to belong to the new organizational, intellectual and ideological structures that best represent them in a new or different party."

He also said that he sees a clear contradiction between "trying to benefit from the new location, putting new thoughts and presenting new (as in the case of the Egyptian Current "al-Tayyar al-Masry" party) and staying – at the same time – within the same group or community (the movement and the Muslim Brotherhood) to take advantage of affiliation with it and make use of its widespread popularity and presence on the ground". He added by saying: "In such a case, we would face one of two possibilities: the first possibility is the creation of dozens of parties and new entities of young Muslim Brothers or the middle-aged generation of the group, each of which has its own ideas, perceptions and priorities, yet all of them would allegedly say that they belong to the group, raising their slogans under its banner and expressing themselves while claiming to speak on its behalf. Truly, this will lead to a major contradiction as well as the fragmentation, dispersal of ideas, perceptions, and deformity of the organizational structures as well as disrupting the work flow and the decision-making process. Then, the group will be a symbol of contradiction, and will be accused of hypocrisy and playing all cards or tampering with political stances."

The second possibility is to see these groups and parties (the Egyptian Current, Pioneering Party and others) attempting to impose their presence, perception and ideas as a de-facto on the rest of the group’s members and the public at large. Then, these members of the group – the bulk of them – will not know where to find the holistic aggregating idea that they should adhere to, or where the framework is within which they should be operating. And definitely, these new groups might put forward their claims that they are the ones who represent a better vision and they can give a better representation of the ideas of the group and the best way for its development as they are "the better version of ??the Brotherhood". It is also a possibility that these defecting groups might start battling among themselves as which of them is the one that represents the group and determines its ideology. In that case, we could expect dispersal and fragmentation as well as great damage to everyone who would be involved in this debate.
Khaled Hamza continued his analysis of the situation, saying: "It is therefore natural that these groups are separated from the Brotherhood. Anyway, we will remain in touch with them on the human level; we will respect their choices and appreciate their reasoning. We continue to call them our brothers, despite the separation between the ‘political entity’ that represents them and the ‘entity’ that represents us. We strive for integration, not contradiction; but the separation between the two entities in the case of a new ideology and different emerging scenario remains the best option".

Hamza elaborated on this point saying: "It is obvious and easy to notice that the semantic meaning and the perspective emerging for the term ‘the Egyptian Current’ differs significantly from the semantic meaning and the perception created by the term ‘Islamic Current’. Therefore, if some of our brothers or colleagues decided to work within the framework of what they call ‘the Egyptian Current’ and consider their positions different from the pannier under which we label ourselves as the ‘Islamic Current’, it becomes natural to separate the group and its members from the other parties and entities that defected from the Brotherhood and the people who prefer to work outside it without committing themselves to its framework. At this point, we will ask them to build or construct whatever party or organization they want, and they would have every right to put whatever they present or propose as ideas and arguments, yet, they should do so independently and outside the framework of the group. When the ‘the Egyptian Current’ and others expressed their willingness to have their own thought, perception and action away from the group, we asked them to define their positions in ordinary friendly sessions – without the necessity of having investigations or interrogation hearings. This was the best formula so that they either continue with us or leave the group in a smooth, non-confrontational way".
Here, Hamza referred to what Abdel Rahman Khalil – from the ‘Egypt Current’ – said as the young man pointed out that he personally has not been interrogated. Khalil said that what happened with him was ‘two friendly sessions’ and nothing else, (according to what he said to al-Shorouk newspaper). Hamzah said: "Yet, if the person, persons or current insisted on not selecting clear positions, the group may tend to dismiss him or them, or at least consult on this matter."
After that, Khaled Hamza drew attention to the fact that this idea does not originate from his own analysis of the issue, but said: "I found a comment on the newspaper’s website that says literally: "It is natural in any movement to have objectives, principles and controls as well as internal regulations. Thus, the individuals who join the party or movement should abide by these rules and regulations, otherwise it would be nothing but a movement characterized by demagogy with no clear position or statement. In such a case, there will be confusion in attitudes and orientation, which will make the movement fragile and internally broken".

Finally, Hamza said: "I personally believe that there is very high dynamism in the Brotherhood as a group and this has been confirmed and entrenched strongly after the January 25th Revolution. The revolution added a lot to the Brotherhood and to the people of Egypt in the form of values, principles and new traditions in the exercise of freedom and respect for other peoples’ opinions, as well as in the framework of unity for the public interest and a greater cause." Hamza pointed to his experience in partnering with many of the youth of the revolution in the formulation of the ‘Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution’ document, also widely known as "The Spirit of Tahrir". He said that in a small simple celebration for the launch of this document, it was evident that there is an emergence of new values and a new spirit, to the extent that a person, who does not belong to any political group and who was not involved – as he said – in the revolution in person or in any way, said that this document is "the first piece of literature of the Egyptian revolution because this revolution – unlike other revolutions in the world – does not seem to stem from any certain literature, but it was actually a spontaneous revolt by masses of people."
Then Hamza added: "I see that the dynamism of the Muslim Brotherhood is quite high to the extent that many young people join the group every day, while others voluntarily leave to establish their own trends, groups, parties or currents. The separation of some of the youth from the movement does not mean that the Brotherhood is at the brink of fragmentation and fracture; it is actually heading towards further expansion and proliferation, while maintaining its internal cohesion as long as it adheres to the parameters of this religion, the interests of this country and the values ??of this revolution."  

Exclusive to: ikhwanonline and ikhwanweb