Muslim Brotherhood Between Official Ban, Media Success
Monday, February 5,2007 00:00
By Amr Magdi, Aljazeera.net

Experts agreed that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s not having a newspaper or a media outlet to express it, despite being the main opposition movement, as a paradoxical situation. They saw that the official media attack on the Muslim Brotherhood as one of the most important reasons for their success; also, some of them said that Islamists managed to use the Internet as an alternative platform.

While "Afaq Arabiay", Al-Ahrar party newspaper which has been hired by the Muslim Brotherhood, is still banned, the group’s English website, Ikhwanweb.com, has been recently facing attacks to block it.

Backfire

Safwat Al-Alem, a political media professor at Cairo University, saw that the state media’s intensive attack on the Muslim Brotherhood helps spreading its issues on a larger scale, " because this raises question marks among readers and viewers about the absence of the Other’s opinion, driving them to seek responses on satellite TV channels and other newspapers, regardless of their approving or disapproving the group".
He said in his interview with Aljazeera.net that:" If these are just "arrows" which are directed against the Muslim Brotherhood, the public opinion can fire a missile at the government through its sympathy with the MB", adding that silence is the best successful policy if the regime wants to downplay the group.

In the same context, the political expert and analyst on Islamic groups, Diaa Rashwan, pointed out that denying the Muslim Brotherhood a newspaper is a part of the general ban on it.
He confirmed to Aljazeera.net that the policy of banning is no longer useful, explaining that " the Muslim brotherhood has a strong media, whose most important instruments are created by opponents not supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, through attacking the group in daily headlines; however, but for these fair or unfair headlines, no one would have known anything about the Muslim Brotherhood news".

The Internet as a substitute

On the other hand, Rashwan confirmed the authenticity of some reports that Islamists websites take the lead on the World Wide Web, adding that this lead is not only because they face frequent blocking," as the Islamists realized from an early period the importance of this point, and the importance of its surfers, the youth, and they were the first among political movements to use the Internet".

Regarding blocking the MB’s English website, Ikhwanweb.com, the manager of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Gamal Eid said that:" immediately after the authorities blocked the website, we managed to enter it from some companies, to reflect a state of confusion that explains the difficulty of monitoring or controlling over the Internet.

He mentioned that while one website was banned, 10 other websites emerged to spread the group’s ideology.

Human element

As for the editor-in-chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official Arabic website, Ikhwanonline, Abdul Galil Al Sharnoubi, he states another reason behind the success of the Muslim Brotherhood’s media; he says that its success lies not depending on its own media, but it depends on making communications and contacts with various mass media, confirming that" Thee most important element in the media equation is the human element, which the Muslim Brotherhood possess".

He denied to Aljazeera.net that there is no deal according to which the group hires several pages in some independent and opposition newspapers. He added that the only MB deals were frank and public with Afaq Arabiya and, before it, with Al Shaab newspaper through sealed contracts between the Muslim Brotherhood and their editors-in-chief, but these newspapers weren’t completely owned by the Muslim Brotherhood.

He pointed out that there are some newspapers that their main distribution is mainly attributed to the diversity of their readers; consequently, they adopt this diversity to meet the needs of their readers with their various trends.

Rashwan ruled out that the Muslim Brotherhood will issue a newspaper in the coming months " while there is an ongoing political crisis in the country"; Al Sharnoubi agreed with him saying:" It is impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood to issue a newspaper under such a little margin of freedom in which the regime can cancel it at any time".

However, Al-Alem didn’t excludes that:" MB channels may emerge here or there under the cover of businessmen or other to be the express the views of the Muslim Brotherhood".

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http://ikhwanweb.com