The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Party time for the Brotherhood

Interesting tidbit from a Le Figaro article interviewing Mohammed Hilal, an octegenarian member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Council:

The current leadership decided, for the first time in the history of the Egyptian branch, to define the outline of a party. It's the minimalist tendency, associated with the 'old guard,' that won. "The Brotherhood will stay as it is," explains Mohammed Hilal. " We will have alongside it a political party with Islam as a political reference. Its members will be Muslim Brothers, but it will not bear our name. The minority wanted to transform the brotherhood into a 'Muslim Brothers' Party.'"
One of the fascinating things for Brotherhood watchers are the tensions and battles between its various factions. At the elections, the younger, more aggressive faction seemed to have won out. On the party issue, the old guard idea of splitting the Brotherhood between dawa and politics -- endorsed by some such as the "young guard" (well, middle-aged really) Essam Al Erian -- may have now won out. Yet, as the old guard necessarily passes away, I wonder whether the distinctions between movement and party will be essentially a convenient legal fiction -- perhaps more useful, and more politically dangerous, than a transformation into a party.

What I'm still waiting for, however, was the announcement by Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef a few weeks ago in an interview with Al Destour that internal bylaws would be changed to impose a duration and term-limit for Supreme Guides -- i.e. that instead of being elected for life, as is the tradition, that they would serve a maximum of two five-year term. Actually carrying that out would deliver a strong message to the regime, which is reluctant to carry out similar reforms for the presidency.

Meanwhile, Gamal Mubarak has emerged from hiding (ever since the elections got nasty) to deliver a four-part interview to the state-owned rag Rose Al Youssef, saying he has no intention of running for president and that he is preoccupied with how Egypt should deal with:

"The question of how we should deal at the political and legal levels with attempts to circumvent the national consensus banning religious parties is on the table," Gamal Mubarak told the state-owned Roz al-Yusef daily.

The 42-year-old head of the ruling party's policies secretariat deplored the Muslim Brotherhood's "use of religion and religious slogans to achieve political gains" in the polls.

In the fourth part of his interview with Roz al-Yusef, he described the movement's participation in parliament as "having negative repercussions on the electoral and political process."
Not as negative as police beating up voters, methinks. It looks that the regime's bright young thing isn't very different from the old guard when it comes to the Brotherhood.