The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Muslim Brotherhood elects new Supreme Guide

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest Islamist group in the world, has elected a new murshid, or Supreme Guide, after the death of previous leader Maamoun Al Hodeibi last Thursday.

The new murshid is Muhammad Mahdi Akef, 75, a veteran of Nasser's political jails and a former MP. He said his focus would be convincing the regime to allow the Brotherhood to officially stand for elections.

However, Akef will also be inheriting the generational divisions with the Brotherhood which have gone unresolved for more than a decade. Interestingly, the method for his election was different than on previosu occasions, notes

Abdul Monem Abol Fotouh, a leading Muslim Brotherhood member, told IOL on Monday, January 12, the group would hold a secret vote for choosing the new guide-general in an unprecedented move against earlier decisions to fill the post through referendums.

A previous favorite for the post was Islamist superstar Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi (a major funder of, who reportedly turned down the post a few days ago. Qaradawi has a reputation as a modernizer in the Brotherhood, and recently made headlines by threatening to take legal action against France if it adopts a law banning the veil in public schools.