The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Mubarak poll splits Muslim Brotherhood

Yesterday's polling of public opinion by Al Misry Al Yom has triggered dissent inside the Muslim Brotherhood. While Egypt’s opposition leaders were near unanimous in taking a defiant stance against Mubarak, Mahdi Akef, leader of Egypt’s most powerful “opposition� force, sang a different tune.
Al Misry Al Yom: Is the Muslim Brotherhood requesting an end to the rule of President Mubarak?

Akef: I am not asking for that because I don't know whether whoever will follow him will be better. The problem is with the regime/system in its entirety. Let me tell you that at least we know President Mubarak. As for what will come after him we don't know him. The regime now is a police, dictatorial single man regime. I don't have any say in the matter. Our problem is with this regime/system, not with President Mubarak personally.

Al Misry: But most of the opposition powers are demanding that Mubarak end his reign?

Akef: There is no opposition in Egypt. And the problem is not President Mubarak. Rather it is the regime that he is overseeing. He is a man that we respect in every way, because he is the guardian of the state (waly al amr), and Islam, in the holy Koran, obliges us to obey him. We want the people to choose and to speak their mind and the Muslim Brotherhood will stand with them.

Al Misry: But the people see the need to change item 167 of the constitution (which deals with how the president is elected)?

Akef: If they truly want that then the MB is with them, but the people do not want that.

Apparently Akef’s statements didn’t please other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This was the response from members of the Muslim Brotherhood, as printed in Al Misry Al Yom the following day.

Essam El Erian: "The demand to change the constitution is something that all the political powers agree on, because choosing the president of the republic from among more than one candidate is a basic condition for healthy democratic elections."

Muhammad Abd Al Qadoos, a writer and member of the Muslim Brotherhood: "Every opposition force in Egypt, foremost among them the Muslim Brotherhood, is demanding the elections of a president from among a number of candidates. Given that the supreme guide was requesting something other than that, he was expressing his personal opinion and that is his right... Changing the we elect the president is a condition of reform and a condition of democracy in this country. Elections must be between a number of candidates, so as to ensure that president is elected."

Abdel Monem Abdel Maqsoud, lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood: "The demand to change the constitution to get rid of the single candidate referendum as a means to choose the president is a just demand and we differ with the what the supreme guide said. This is a basic demand of reform."

Abu Ala Al Maadi, head of Al Wasat party and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood had this to say: “The statements of Akef are outside the national consensus, and provoke a number of doubts about the true positions of the MB.�

Here is more of the New Years Day poll in Al Misry Al Yom. The headline was: "The politicians and the thinkers have reservations... university youth say No... citizens are between no and yes..."
Thinkers, politicos, and intellectuals rejected a renewal of Mubarak for a number of reasons, among them: not conducting political and constitutional reform, the regime’s slowness in carrying out comprehensive changes and constitutional changes, in addition to the economic crisis that has become worse in recent years.

As for the man on the street and citizens in Cairo and the governorates, they varied between yes and no, but the bigger percentage of them said they did not want Mubarak to be president again. They gave as their reasons the problems and crises confronting the citizens whether on the level of political and civil rights or economic considerations, especially the decrease in income levels and crazy price increases. Meanwhile many citizens said they wanted Mubarak to continue leading the country for various reasons, among them: maintaining stability and security, his long experience in overseeing the affairs of leadership, in addition to his success in dealing with the United States, Israeli and the other dangers that confront the nation.

But the true surprise came inside the fences of Egyptian Universities, as a crushing majority of youth in the universities said a frank “no� to another term for Mubarak. They demanded a change of blood inside the regime, and expressed on their hopes that the future would be better for them, considering that it belongs to them more than others.