Saturday, April 18, 2009

Muslim Brotherhood at a crossroads

As the leader of Egypt's opposition steps down, questions of the party's identity and purpose frame the debate over a successor

A Good Analysis
[COMMENT: Make no mistake about it, the Muslim Brotherhood has never been and never will be a "revolutionary" movement. Recent timidness towards the Pharaoh's regime and the impotence of its Hamas allies in Gaza vis-à-vis the Pharaoh and his machinations are proof enough. Young Muslim activists need to establish a new movement rather than try to change the Brotherhood from within. That change will not take place. I also have my suspicions about the Brotherhood ultimately being used as a tool of the West and the reactionary, puppet Arab regimes.]

By Jack Shenker, Saturday 18 April 2009

"There are several recurring themes one becomes wearily familiar with when following the erratic world of Egyptian politics. Sensational revelations about Zionist/Iranian plots to destabilise the nation are a permanent fixture, as are empty policy statements parroted by government spokesmen and stoic silence from the regime on any issue that actually matters. One thing you don't often hear about, though, is resignation speeches – it takes a lifetime's work acquiring wasta (connections, or influence) to ascend to the top of any of the country's numerous greasy poles, and once politicians are up there they tend to be remarkably unenthusiastic about climbing back down.

Yet a resignation speech is exactly what the papers here have recently been chewing over – and it's all the more remarkable coming from the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdi Akef, who at 80 years old is about to become the movement's first ever leader not to hang on to his position for life. Akef himself is not blind to the significance of this exotic event: "In Egypt there are no former officials ... there are only dead officials," he observed wryly when asked why the announcement that he would step down in January 2010 had created such a furore.....

......Events across the border in Gaza exposed both the Brotherhood's strengths and weaknesses; it has an unparalleled capacity to turn out demonstrators in large numbers, yet regime oppression of the group is increasing – the Brotherhood believes that 1,700 of its members were arrested for Gaza-related activities.

Moreover, the leadership seems out of touch with the relatively decentralised industrial actions sweeping the country, and even more confused over how to align itself in relation to both the US......

What is the Brothers is a far deeper, more potent and cross-generational divide between those who see the primary reason for the group's existence as one of political participation, and those who want to disengage with politics, and concentrate on da'wa (evangelism). Recent events have strengthened the hand of the latter, religiously conservative group, who argue that the organisation's flirtation with the formal electoral process (the Brotherhood won 20% of contested parliamentary seats in 2005, despite being officially outlawed) has brought them nothing but grief......."

No comments: