MB Part Of Egyptian Structure: Researcher

Editor and researcher in the Islamic movements affairs, Hossam Tammam, delves into the status of the Muslim Brotherhood group in the Egyptian society, taking as a launching point the incident at Al Azhar University when MB students performed a militia –like parade during a demonstration they staged on March 9, 2006, in protest at dismissing six of their colleagues from university for participating in the Free Student Union election. Tammam said that the incident made the headlines of the Egyptian press and raised controversy as to whether the Muslim Brotherhood group has backtracked from its peaceful agenda and adopted violence, or that this incident was an individual act which has been done against the will of the MB leadership.


Not predetermined incident:

The writer suggested that the incident was not a planned one, carried out against the will of the leadership and even not approved by the MB students on charge of the student action in the university. Rather, he saw it as a daredevil act by a few students as a reaction to the assaults which the students came under after they held the Free Student Union election and the ensuing measures taken by university officials of dismissing some students and referring others to disciplinary boards. The writer traced the history of the student action in the Egyptian university, saying that it started under the name of Islamic Group which ran itself without leaders or mentors from outside it. The writer pointed out that this was a mixed blessing: while it was a self ruled group, it was easily implicated in violence and armed action as the successive generations of students couldn’t but abide by the same methodology and way of thinking of the students who founded it in the 1970s.


Muslim Brotherhood wing within the Student Union:

The writer attributed the changes and peaceful attitude of the Islamist students in university to the efforts made by the Muslim Brotherhood which turned the student movement from a randomly run action into an organized one, with each university being headed by MB leaderships either from within the university or from outside it.  “what we are seeing in university nowadays is not an amorphous Islamic movement, but rather a student wing affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood with its ideology and strategy, and their decisions are part of the group’s ideology and strategy and decision”, the writer said, adding that the university student action has become part and parcel of the Muslim Brotherhood agenda, citing senior MB leader and university professor Dr. Rashad Bayoumi as the one in charge of the MB Student Affairs Section nationwide. The writer assured that the student movement has come to follow the steps of Muslim Brotherhood and no longer dares to deviate from it,  especially when it comes to the relationship between the group and the regime.” Since the Muslim Brotherhood engaged into the peaceful political process under the umbrella of officially recognized parties in the eighties, it has reiterated that it is committed to peaceful means in handling the political process and shuns violence in all its forms”, the writer said, adding that this agenda earned the MB a remarkable popularity and made it a part of the Egyptian Structure. Of course, according to the writer, the group’ s peaceful agenda expanded to include the MB- controlled student action, and this is clearly shown in the performance and programs of the students in the university.


Politics hardly felt in MB students activities:

On the tempo of MB student activities in the recent years, the writer said that they have retreated compared to that in the 1970s and 1980s, adding that the last and most prominent student activity was in the early 1990s when the university students staged demonstrations in protest at the international alliance against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. He pointed out that the political activity within the student movement continued to retreat and the movement reduced its activities to almost non-political ones, citing the march of protest staged by the Alexandria students in the spring of 2005 when they called on the authorities to clampdown on the video clip hotbeds which contain indecent and immoral scenes; a similar activity was held by MB students in Cairo University on how to celebrate Valentine Day from an Islamic perspective. The retreat of political activities of the MB students compared to the group’s activities for political and constitutional reforms, as the writer sees it, is attributed to the fact that the university students, whether MB or not, have their own concerns and interests and they are a typical product of their university environment which can be partly but not fully politicized in spite of the dozes of political programs they are taught from their MB leaders.

The writer concludes by saying that with the student action- being under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood- will undoubtedly move according to the group’s vision in dealing with the regime at a specific period of time. When it comes to the regime- group relationship, the writer said that it never grew into alliance or accordance, nor will it escalate into an open ended battle requiring a militia parade on the part of MB students, a hint refuting claims that the militia like parade in Azhar university was a militarily motivated one.