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The Muslim Brotherhood And Political Party
The Muslim Brotherhood And Political Party
Prompted by those who defy granting the Muslim Brotherhood an official political party that would enable them of serving and defending the people and combating any exterior pressures (under the pretext that the law prohibits the formation of religious-based parties), the Muslim Brotherhood have issued a statement, announcing that they represent an integrated Islamic body that has historical, political and social legitimacy, and that has influence and prevalence covering all Egypt.
Wednesday, June 13,2007 13:14
by Al Said Ramadan IkhwanWeb

Prompted by those who defy granting the Muslim Brotherhood an official political party that would enable them of serving and defending the people and combating any exterior pressures (under the pretext that the law prohibits the formation of religious-based parties), the Muslim Brotherhood have issued a statement, announcing that they represent an integrated Islamic body that has historical, political and social legitimacy, and that has influence and prevalence covering all Egypt.

The MB, according to the statement, seeks to establish a civil party of an Islamic authority in accordance with article II of the Egyptian constitution. The statement adds that the constitution secures freedom of political practice for all Egyptians, party members and independents, and that the MBs will adopt all possible peaceful and civilized methods, in compliance with the constitution, to practice their constitutional and political rights.   

Actually, the MB’s keenness to form a political party is not new. Such goal goes back to 1984, when the MB drafted a program for the Shura Party, during the office of Umar At-Tilmisani, and another program for the Islah Party, during the office of Mohamed Hamed Abu-an-Nasr. This is asserted by the MB in their March 1994 statement entitled Counseling and Party Multiplicity in the Muslim Society, as well as in their March 2004 initiative under the naming Freedom of Political Party Formation.

I- The Nature of the prospective party for the Muslim Brotherhood

A. A civil party with an Islamic authority: a definition

1. Party: This means a group of people who advocate one and the same open political program, and who work together to promote their program with the objective of gaining rule.

2. Civil: By civil party, it is meant a party that is NOT religious-based. Religious-based parties tend to be dogmatic parties that recruit only members affiliated to the same religion, as they do not accept the other. Most such parties believe that they have the ultimate truth and reckon any opponent a disbeliever (blasphemous). They do not accede to peaceful conferring with the authorities and reject democracy, but if they do, it is only to gain power; then they slap any opponent whomsoever in the face. The MB, on the other hand, pointedly refuses all such notions.

A civil party differs from a religious-based one along the following points:

a. Recruits could be any civilian, irrespective of his/her religion or affiliation.
b. The adopted program is developed by the group’s members. It is not ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’, and thus could be amended or refuted.  
c. The adopted program is a peaceful one. It acknowledges women rights, liberties, peaceful conferring with the authority, elections, dialogue, allies, conferences, marches, demonstrations, mass media, etc.
d. The civil party rejects all means of violence, including verbal violence.
e. The civil party believes that people are the source of authority, legitimacy, and self-determination: the nation’s will is the source of legislation.
f. The civil party respects constitution and law, and acts accordingly.
g. The civil party acknowledges liberties as well as civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. 
h. The civil party reckons the state one entity, safeguarding its institutions and refusing any practice that would distort this.
i. The civil party realizes the importance of the role of the civil community, thus is keen to boost and support the different bodies and institutions in the community.

• It is worth mentioning that the MB has set a good example to everyone concerning the implementation of all the aforementioned points. This finds evidence in their political activities in all fields, in spite their being a political outcast. The MB, for example, fielded a feminine candidate (Gihan Al-Halafawi) for the elections of the People’s Assembly for the year 2000. By this, they intended to demonstrate their actual acknowledgment of women’s rights, and their realization of the woman’s political role in society.

• The MB implements democracy to their internal structure. Members were even detained and prosecuted before military courts for this cause (83 members in 1995): their crime was that they had run elections for the parliamentary council of their group!

• The MB is known for its objectivity in backing other groups, coordinating with them and sometimes even forming alliances with them. Historical incidents bear witness to this: the incidents of Al-Wafd Party (1984) and the Labor and Liberal Party (1987), the backing of Fuad Badrawi (in the elections of 2000), of Munir Fakhri (a Wafdist), of Hamdin Sabbahi, and of Abd-el-Adthim Al-Maghribi (a Nassirist). There is also a big list of hybrid associations established by the MB.

• The MB is known for its active participation in political and mass activities, as well as for its peculiar ability of mobilization, regulation and self-command.

• The MB has an evident and pioneering role in the social, charitable, and culturing fields in the community.                

3. Authority: Each party has its own intellectual authority that controls its ideology and movements. As for the MB, its authority is an Islamic one, which entails the following facts:
a. The group takes as its basic principles justice, counseling, freedom, and equality.
b. The group adopts a flexible, non-dogmatic methodology in handling issues.
c. Non-Muslims members are invited to be part of the MB.
d. Human rights are acknowledged for Muslims and non-Muslims equally.  

Why adopt an Islamic Authority?

a. Islam is the authority of the Egyptian constitution itself. Article II of the constitution states that Egypt is an Islamic Arab state, Islam is its official religion, and it is Islamic rule that constitutes the main source of legislation.
b. Islam is the religion of the vast majority of Egyptians, and it represents the basis of civilization for all Egyptians, including Christians, as asserted by Fikri Makram Ebeid (“I’m a Christian in religion, a Muslim in civilization”), and many other thinkers.       
c. Religious parties are known to exist in several countries. There is, for example, the Christian Democratic Party in Italy and the religious-based Communal Party in the US. In fact, there are religious based states such as Israel, India, Pakistan, and the Vatican. There are even extreme religious parties within religious-based states, such as the Shaas Party in Israel.
 
4. Analysts support civil party with an Islamic authority
Let us have a look at what other people have said in this respect, and particularly at what Christians have themselves declared:

• Dr. Milaad Hanna: “The only force existent now in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood group, which represents one alternative for the current regime. I thus demand that they be allowed forming a party that would have an Islamic flavor in response to the religious tendency of the Egyptian people. It is well known that Europe contains Christian religious-based parties, which means that states allow the formation of religious parties.
• Dr. Rafiq Habib demands two things: 1. MB forms a political Islamic official party, 2. Party be acknowledged by the state enabling it of serving its aspired social, beneficent, and educational role inside the community.
•  Justice Yahya Al-Gamal: “The historical accusations leveled against the Muslim Brotherhood have no ground and could no longer be accepted: the Muslim Brotherhood has proved the opposite. Their political practices are good under the constraints imposed on them”.
• Dr. Reema Khalaf Al-Heneidi, Assitant Secretary General of the UN and Head of the Regional Office of the Arab States: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a national force, which has to be politically represented. They respect democratic principles and advocate a non-violent ideology”   
 Hasanein Kroom, a Nasserist journalist: “The Muslim Brotherhood contributed to reform since the eighties. They are not alien to the community and so they should be politically fused and should be allowed a political party.
 Dr. Gamal, a researcher at the Center of Political and Strategic Studies, Al-Ahram stressed the necessity of evaluating the political ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, as it differs from what is said in history. The political ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood represents a mediator worthy of praise. It is a credit for the entire Egyptian community, and it is no longer accepted, politically or ethically, that the Muslim Brotherhood be banned or that reform be postponed.
 Dr. Diaa Rashwaan: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a real political power, and they have the right to have a political party that would represent them. We are not by this claiming for them a force that has no roots in reality. They are actually an undeniable major political power in both the Egyptian and the Arab street”.  
• Dr. Muhammad Sayyed Saeed, Deputy Manager of the Political and Strategic Studies Office at Al-Ahram: “Depriving the Muslim Brotherhood of legitimacy means that a mainstream political trend would remain illegitimate, the thing that cannot be accepted now. All means were used against the Muslim Brotherhood, the political force that existed since 1928, to drive it away from the mainstream life, but none of these methods worked. If the current political regime did not hasten to legitimize the Muslim Brotherhood, it is then an ostrich-like regime”.

Such is the credit given to the Muslim Brotherhood by the demands made by the elite political analysts. They have not come out of the blue, but come as a natural and logical result of the history of the MB that is full of sacrifices and members giving lives for their cause (e.g., Tariq Ghannam, Akram Zuhayri, Musaad Qutb). They come as a result of the MB’s strong presence on all levels of political work.       

5. Why a party?

Forming a party is essential for performing the political tasks to follow:
a. Political disciplining and cultivation of the community
b. Culturing and raising the political awareness of the community
c. Practicing politics using all legitimate means and degrees
d. Reform on the basis of a national agenda
e. Strengthening the community so as to face exterior pressures.
f. Forming allies, which are considered necessary for reform.
g. Many other tasks.

Forming an MB party is necessary for the entire community in order to enhance political work and reactivate political institutions. In fact, in one of his interviews with Afaaq Arabiyya, Dr. Muhammad Mursi, member of the MB Executive Bureau, stated the following facts of the previous parliament
• The MB members represent 3.7% of the People’s Assembly (15 members), yet they have performed 30% of the assembly’s activities and have activated 15000 surveillance devices.
• Each MB parliamentary member has made at least 10000 service for the citizens of his constituency.
• The Muslim Brotherhood has introduced new concepts into the parliament. They have demonstrated how an MP could perform his tasks inside and outside the parliament. This has been asserted by each of Refaat Al-Mahgoub and Fatthi Surour, as well as by other political figures in parliament.

tags: Political Party / exterior pressures / religious-based parties / an integrated Islamic body / social legitimacy / the Egyptian constitution / Dr. Milaad Hanna
Posted in FJP News  
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