"CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday called on citizens to join a national strike protesting the policies of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for nearly three decades.
The Islamist group 'calls on the people of Egypt on April 6 to express their anger and objection to the policies of the regime which has squandered the country's riches, neglected its national security and removed Egypt from its role as leader and pioneer (of the region),' a statement said.
Citizens were called on to strike 'using all peaceful channels and abiding by constitutional and legal restrictions while safeguarding public and private property from damage during these peaceful activities.'
Does this mark a departure from the ambivalence about the 6 April national strike we had seen in recent weeks? Does it make the 6 April protest likely to be more successful? By what standards do we measure that success? Difficult questions all, but what this indicates to me is that the Brothers' leadership is taking to heart the writings of fellow traveler and Islamist thinker Tareq al-Bishri on civil disobedience.
I am reminded of a lecture I attended a few days ago by the talented Brothers-watcher Tawfiq Aclimandos, a historian who has unearthed many interesting aspects of the relationship between the Free Officers and the Brothers in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and followed their policies in recent years. Like another Egyptian expert on Islamism, Dia Rashwan, Aclimandos believes current General Guide Mahdi Akef is among the most important leaders the MB have had since founder Hassan al-Banna, taking the movement in a new direction. (Rashwan places only former Guide Omar Telmissany, who rebuilt the MB in the 1970s, ahead of Akef, Aclimandos believes Akef may be even more important.) Their participation in the strike, after the back-and-forth of the last year or two, will be a test of how influential the Brothers really are.