Muslim Brotherhood Elections: Deadlocked?
|Monday, July 28,2008 08:55|
|By Dr.Amr Alshobaky|
The Muslim Brotherhood group has held internal elections to elect five new members in the group"s Executive Office. Some of them are familiar to the public opinion like MP Saad Al Katatni, chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc, and MP Saad Al Husseini, while the others have experience which is restricted to their good work inside the group sections and activities, like Osama Nasr, the chairman of Alexandria"s provincial office, Mohie Hamed from Sharqiya and Mohamed Abdul Rahman from Dakahlia, all of them are professionals, doctors and university professors.
This move has actually stirred many debates inside and outside the group as the list lacked one of the top reformist leaders inside the group, i.e. Essam El-Erian, a high profile among the Egyptian elite who has an effective media presence. Also questioned is the democracy of these elections. The five members were elected by the 100-member advisory council of the group– through either agreement or pressures.
The conservative approach reflects this narrow-minded missionary thought that lacks any political common sense, and it fully fails in interacting with daily political details because it can talk only about generalities and free talk ideas which are separated from reality on the ground. As for "the reformist trend", it seeks a breakup between missionary and political activities.
This reformist trend looks at the failure that the group encountered throughout 80 years with a critical viewpoint and it recognizes the mistakes committed in the past and present. It also disputes with the conservative trend that sees the group"s defeats as victories because it survived them and that its members endured ordeals, prisons and detentions, and tyranny of the regime, as if it is an end in itself, and it declares that it believes in democracy, civil state and citizenship.
If the Muslim Brotherhood group includes a conservative majority and a reformist minority, these conservatives in the group are divided into two types:
The first comprises the leaders who were brought up inside the group and received their experience from inside its sections, narrow-minded regulations and its strict missionary and religious values. They do not know so much about what is happening in the world outside. They can"t argue any detailed political issue. They also do not have any political structure through experience in universities or parliament, and they do not have any union experience through working in trade unions or syndicates. They don"t have any financial experience like Khairat Al-Shater who ran a successful financial empire according to market rules. They are only guards of the group and belief. They aren’t efficient for rule or democratic political work.
As for the second type inside this conservative trend, it comprises conservative or conservative-leaning elements but they - unlike most of their leaders inside in the Executive Office, have political, social, financial and unionist experiences outside the group. These experiences distinguished them from other fellow MB members in the conservative trend.
It is surely certain that this open-mined second type of the conservative trend can become a cornerstone of a reformist movement in case the political situation in Egypt changes and the Muslim Brotherhood is accepted as a political party according to constitution and civil laws. However, they can never be a cornerstone of any reform or change inside or outside the group and it is difficult to bet on them for steering up any reformist movement inside the society. They will rather wait like the group that political change comes from outside it at the hands of other parties which will likely be from the regime, from outside the Muslim Brotherhood and outside the clique of the hereditary transfer of power.
As for the second movement, the reformists, they account for no more than 20 % of the group volume. It includes a number of MB advisory council members and some young figures. This movement will remain "a minority" inside the group because there is no incentive that may drive it to launch a big battle for reform the group or to defect and establish a political party because it will definitely be denied a legal licence.
The issue of maintaining an intellectual and generation coexistence inside the group is an asset but this coexistence proves there is a crisis, not success. This is because what is normal is that there is a group that move in the religious and missionary field in fully separated way from the political party, something the regime will never tolerate as it is punishes any reformist inside or outside the group even tougher that it does with close-mined trends. Thus, there is no incentive that may motivate these few reformists to get out of the group and live in "the open air " without any party and even any political hope.
This makes the group with all its warmth, tranquility and solidarity it offers to its members, remain a safe refuge for every one to face tyranny of regime and security manhunts, and a huge entity that helps 88 MPs win seats in parliament without any legal licence.
These conservative and narrow-minded sides in the group"s thought appeared to be points of strength because it lives under a more narrow-minded social and political milieu. The current negative points in the group"s discourse and in its recent political party program seem to be consistent with the Egyptian general condition that comprises sectarianism, superficial religiousness and superficial fatwas (religious edicts).
The Muslim Brotherhood has become a part of a general condition, a part of its strength is that it is a part of this condition to which they gave in and are unable to reform.
What is certain is that the phenomenon of generation and intellectual coexistence inside the group are dating back to the organizational and political experience that it got throughout its 80 year history of building multi-level organization which was controlled by dualities (nonviolence / violence, religious / political, missionary / party ). It is true that he Muslim Brotherhood has created since early 1970s an intellectual and political breakup with the legacy of violence which was adopted by the Special Apparatus in the 1940s and 1950s. However, there is still this "historical advantage" of possessing a multi-level organizational structure that can a bigger capacity to assimilate various ideas reflected in the movement of the sections and the various multi-generation experiences inside the group.
As for the second point, it is related to the group"s reading of the current political reality. The medium level generation, particularly the reformist wing, knows well that there is no future for its political views outside the group. There is no chance for approving a political party for the Muslim Brotherhood"s young men or old men.
Also, the legitimate political parties suffer from internal collapse and nearly complete isolation from the public opinion. Thus, remaining inside the group and preserving its their unity is not only because of a personal conviction but also because of an awareness of the deadlocked outer political conditions.
We should never be amazed when we find the Muslim Brotherhood holding from time to time internal elections that lead to the win of conservative elements, and that this does not lead to the defection of reformist elements. This activity may be good but it is actually deadlocked.
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