Nation will lose if Muslim Brotherhood is Excluded

Over two decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was able to constitute the main opposition in the country, and to stand up against the British occupation, the palace, the corrupt rule and political parties.
Although the movement didn’t exist within the students and workers committee which represented the national movement in 1946;it played a significant role during the 1948 Palestine war, and fought alongside the Egyptian army as volunteers. It also spearheaded an armed resistance at Suez Canal against the British in 1951.
Its leading members stood by the Free Officers in the battle fields, and had ties with Gamal Abdel Nasser as one of the country’s national forces. They were informed of the timing of the July revolution and they were entrusted with guarding the public premises on the eve of the revolution.

. . . [then] they were kept away from the political scene until the year 1971 when president [Sadat] released them from prison to use them against Nasserites. [Sadat] then proceeded with his opinionated policy of subordination to the US and reconciliation with Israel, freedom restricting laws and severing relations with Arabs. He was then assassinated by [Islamic Jihad] who aslo criticized the [Muslim Brotherhood] of cooperation with the regime and the spread of the westernized trend among its members.

The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) resumed its political activities with the new status quo, ran for the election on the Wafd slate ticket in 1976, and continued to have seats in the parliament. It harnessed 88 seats in the recent parliament election, in addition to the omnipresence of its members in syndicates, trade unions and universities’ teaching staff clubs.

Ikhwan had its own media forums, leaflets and conferences. It tries to elect its chairman despite of the Nasser’s decision dissolving the group in 1954, which is still challenged before judiciary.

Recently, the regime as well as few opposition parties, especially al Tajamou leftist party, has been lashing out at the Ikhwan. Prime Minister Nazif accused them of being a clandestine organization, although he knows well that its members entered the parliament through a sweeping win in a legitimate election marred by flagrant rigging by the ruling regime and its police agencies.

The Muslim Brothers are still being chased with accusations that they adopt middle- of the- road attitudes by publicly opposing power succession while having secret relations with the government.

Of the accusations also is that the Ikhwan seeks to capitalize on the judges crisis to reach power through jumping on the bandwagon of opposition, and also accused of tampering with the results of the trade unions elections.

The state is split over Ikhwan, with the Prime Minister along with the NDP leveling charges and the PA speaker refuting them. The Policies Committee of the ruling party uses the Ikhwan as a scare tactic with the West; implicitly hinting that the alternative to the NDP is the Ikhwan and the US has to choose either succession or Ikhwan; friend or enemy; globalization or terrorism . 
Even the regime is now considering the dissolution of the parliament to get rid of the Ikhwan opposition and hold another election while using media and government propaganda to reiterate that the Ikhwan is an outlawed group as a prelude for further apprehensions.
This step, if taken, will breed more violent groups which will have,in their opinions, justifications for acts of violence and targeting politicians, and the nation will find itself then back to square one. 

It is for nobody’s interest if the clash with the Muslim Brotherhood continues. Why cannot the regime strengthen its domestic front to break the siege imposed by foreign quarters? Why doesn’t the regime reconsider the decision to dissolve the MB which renders it an outlawed group? Why doesn’t the regime let the judiciary issue its final ruling on the Ikhwan?

The opposition parties still see the Ikhwan as their adversary in the political arena, fearing that the chance of Ikhwan reaching power is high in case the incumbent regime falls.
The opposition parties try to get rid of the Ikhwan and set the regime against its members, as if the Ikhwan committed a crime by winning 88 seats when all the parties together won only 12 seats. In fact, Ikhwan has coordinated with all political forces in the country and has taken part in all political and national activities by groups like Kifaya and all reform advocate movements.

The nation is facing a range of hazards in all walks of life, and time is ripe that the ruling party and opposition closed ranks to bail out the nation.
This cannot be done except through rallying masses around a mechanism for national salvation , and the Ikhwan has the potential to rally the masses and take them out of their 50- year apathy.
The Ikhwan also has the potential to reinstate Egypt to take its once leading role in the Arab region through coordination with its Ikhwan branches in Jordan, Fateh, Hamas, Jihad in Palestine, and the Islamic resistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. The Ikhwan has the potential to achieve national reconciliation between Islamic political forces and political opposition in countries like Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Tunis and Algeria. The Ikhwan even has the potential to block any clash between the Arab Nation and its neighboring countries mainly Iran and Turkey.
The nation will be the only loser if the Muslim Brothers are excluded from political participation. It is of the interest of the entire nation to rally all national forces, and Ikhwan is one of them, to close ranks in confrontation of repression inside and hegemony from outside. Ikhwan is by and large an offspring of the reform movement from which all liberation movement emerged.

Dr. Hassan Hanafy, Professor in Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University. He wrote the following article to Al Arabi opposition weekly newspaper

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