Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt
|Wednesday, June 13,2007 06:46|
|By Deia’a Rashwan|
This chapter aims at reviewing and analyzing activities and ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, as an example of a socially oriented political movement with a political platform. This will also include an analysis of the most significant organizational developments the movement has undergone following the September 11 attacks, especially during 2002. Actually, there is much interest in the Muslim Brotherhood movement, a concern that is justifiably objective on the grounds that it is the biggest Islamic movement, at least in the Arab region. It has always been the greatest influential movement at different ideological, social and political levels in most Arab as well as some non-Arab countries
Muslim Brotherhood in
Islam in general and Islamic movements in particular have increasingly been in the limelight in the post-September 11 stage in the light of increasing the link between Islam and violence and terrorism and branding Islam as an alternative enemy, not to mention the growing call for developing an Islamic state model that merge the moderate Islamist trend into the political system and political life. Such claims focused particularly on the socially-oriented Islamic movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
Within this framework, it will probably be suitable to begin with the outstanding developments that the Muslim Brotherhood witnessed following the 9/11 attacks, especially during 2002.
First: Electing new MB chairman
The death of the fifth Muslim Brotherhood chairman, Mustafa Mashour (1921-2002) and the necessity of selecting another MB chairman posed many challenges related to the internal power structure as well as a kind of political conflict and its determinants among the group"s elites who control sources of power and influence as well as decision-making mechanisms, the pattern of internal democracy and other issues.
Now, with such issues and crises recurring when a new MB chairman is elected, the current circumstances experienced by the group, especially its stance towards the ongoing local and regional situations, make it incumbent upon the group to face the challenge of carrying out a real ijtihad (independent legal opinion) not only to its ideological and political stances, but also in its reconsidering the organizational structure and internal mechanisms of action.
In light of such an atmosphere, the death of the group"s fifth chairman was an important moment that uncovered the deep internal interactions and developments the Muslim Brotherhood is undergoing nowadays.
Regarding selecting a new MB chairman after the death of the Muslim Brotherhood"s fifth chairman, Mustafa Mashour, the then (late) deputy chairman, Ma"moun Al-Hudhaibi, a former counselor, decided at that time to put into force the Muslim Brotherhood"s executive regulation which stipulates that the MB deputy chairman assumes responsibilities of the chairman in case he suffers from a chronic disease or senility that leads to loss of memory and in both cases, the group will limit his power and another MB chairman will be nominated (3). However, this decision and the start of selecting another chairman aroused what the Egyptian media called "covert boiling over among Muslim Brotherhood ranks". The media pointed out that some Muslim Brotherhood members viewed that Al-Hudhaibi would fragmentize the group"s future because he was a personality that did not accept the others" opinions, and that was known for his dealing with Center Party group and his stance towards the group"s south Cairo bureau members topped by Ahmed Abul-Fotouh after the first discussion with Al-Hudhaibi, which made them render their resignations. However, the same media quoted some other Muslim Brotherhood sources giving explanations to the state of despotism practiced by Al-Hudhaibi on the ground that it was the outcome of some reasons, which were all in his favor, including police clampdowns, the group"s keenness on maintaining stability and avoiding schisms, especially in light of the emergence of a young Muslim Brotherhood generation (Renovation Trend) calling for ideological reconsiderations (4). Other Egyptian media beleived that the conflict over the MB chairman post might shake the group up and that it unearthed disputes that had already been existing for a long time and that conflict over the chairman post was new. According to such Egyptian media, Al-Hudhaibi"s control over the group and the so waning competence of the late MB chairman during his life to the extent that his deputy (being the official spokesman for the group) used to issue statements in his name, the most outstanding reasons for such disputes (5).
Regardless of the media assessments, objective studies see that the roots of the conflict within the Muslim Brotherhood group dates back to what some called "inter-generation contradiction" between the first generation (represented by the MB chairman, the Guidance Bureau and the Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council) which has a historical legitimacy and controls the group on the one hand, and the second generation who has the "real legitimacy on the ground", as this generation"s experience started in Egyptian universities during the second half of 1970s when they formed a big student political movement opposing late president Sadat"s policies, especially foreign policies. This contradiction between the "legitimacy" of two generations was not strange in the Egyptian political milieu. Rather, the most outstanding inter-generation contradiction within the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other political groups lies in the fact that such contradiction is not associated with contradictory political and social views, i.e. between the "radical" views of the young and the "conservative" views of the old generations, which is the most influential difference within the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the two generations belong to the urban and rural Egyptian middle class sections, but they had wide differences regarding their relationship with the state and other Egyptian political powers and the outside world (6) .
Not only have the previous reasons fueled conflict within the Muslim Brotherhood group following the death of their chirman, but also the increasing crystallized feelings of rejection among the younger generations regarding the method of selecting a new MB chairman were added to the situation, as the oldest member in the Guidance Bureau is nominated to the MB chairman post. The young generations seemed to be reluctant to this method of nomination and insisted on elections as a basis of choosing a new chairman, especially after the "graveyard pledge of allegiance", a famous incident in which late MB chirman, Mustafa Mashour, was given the pledge of allegiance and chosen MB chairman while his predecessor Hamed Abul-Nasr was being buried, as all attendances of the burial ceremony were surprised to see Ma"moun Al-Hudhaibi carrying the "allegiance banner" for Sheikh Mashour. At this moment, the young generation started to suggest that there should be a real mechanism for nominating key figures for any vacant leading post within the group and laying down more collective bases regarding any decision that has to do with this issue instead of the "pledge of allegiance", which could make the Muslim Brotherhood lose its credibility.
Although there were many indications of some difference within the group over the issue of nominating the new MB chairman after the death of Mashour, some leading figures, especially the new chairman at the time, late counselor Ma"moun Al-Hudhaibi, categorically denied any conflicts or differences inside the Muslim Brotherhood whether over that issue or any other internal or external issues and that all circulated reports regarding that issue were completely divorced from reality. According to Al-Hudhaibi"s view, the succession of the late MB chairman was carried out within a group regarded as one of the biggest Islamic groups in the Muslim world and that it is unreasonable to leave it without executive regulations. "Any abrupt vacuum should be filled through an organizational regular method," Al-Hudhaibi argued. Regarding the so-called "graveyard pledge of allegiance", Al-Hudhaibi emphasized that it was completely contrary to what its critics claim, as there was a previous agreement within the group and regulation procedures were taken to select Hamed Abul-Nasr"s successor; what took place at the graveyard was just a kind of publicity. This means that what happened in public gave the impression that the "allegiance" was just a spur-of-the-moment decision, while it was in fact preceded by a process of preparation and selection according to the regulations that control the group"s actions. Al-Hudhaibi also denied any conflicting trends or differences of views within the group. "Sometimes we have more than one opinion", he said, pointing out that this does not necessarily mean there is any difference (7).
In light of such circumstances and internal and external argumentations, the Muslim Brotherhood chose its new MB chairman. Members of the Guidance Bureau reached a solution whereby all Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council members are allowed to select the General Guide without making the council vulnerable to the threat of arrest while convening, as it is still an outlawed group in
Such a reality was confirmed after the death of MB chairman Ma"moun Al-Hudhaibi, on
However, the death of the MB chairman, selecting a new one, and the controversy over such issues may probably raise significant questions: Is the Muslim Brotherhood locked in a leadership crisis? Was it the selection of a new MB chairman that gave rise to such a whirlwind of conflicts and disagreements within the group? Actually, the leadership issue has been the main concern of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the past decades and is considered the weakest point in the movement"s structure and performance. Many experts concerned with the movement"s course of action believe that the movement suffers from serious problems in the leadership structure, vigorously impacting on their present and future. Most MB regional groups were centralized around the Muslim Brotherhood"s founding father; then, they faced- after his death - two options: adhering to his stiff-frozen methods and views regardless of the changed circumstances and conditions, or falling into pieces. This is a natural consequence; any single person-led organization would inevitably suffer from this problem after the absence (death) of such a person. An experienced researcher observed this pause in Muslim Brotherhood"s activities after the assassination of the movement"s founder, Hassan Al-Banna, as the movement remained without leadership from 12/2/1949 (the date of the assassination of Al-Banna) to 19/10/1951 (when Hassan Al-Hudhaibi assumed leadership), i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood remained without leadership for about three years (9). Another researcher on the Muslim Brotherhood movement noticed this phenomenon, pointing out the relationship between the word Mushid (MB chairman) and the person assuming the post of Murshid (MB chairman) within the Muslim Brotherhood, which was based t the beginning on the skills of individuals, not on a specific system of organization (10).
To fathom the dimensions of the MB leadership dilemma, we will cast a glance at two significant documents that framed the organizational and leadership structures of the Muslim Brotherhood for a long time and most of their provisions are still valid. The first document is "the Articles of Association of the Muslim Brotherhood" in
What is strange is that neither the constitution nor the by-law referred to any kind of election or re-election within the constituent body. Article (33) of the Articles of Association only mentions that the constituent body consists of the MB members who took the lead and exerted efforts to spread this da"wah (call). Who does decide on those? What is the criterion of selection? Thus, the text did not mention the source of leadership legitimacy of the highest constitutional body in the movement. The reason for this is that the founding father, sheikh Hassan Al-Banna, chose by himself members of the constituent body. (12). Article (11) of the Public Order granted the MB Shura Council the power of electing the MB chairman. The constituent body was earlier granted such power by Articles of Association. The problem always lies in: Who will elect the elected? This means disregarding the general rules of selecting leaders whether on their own behalf or on behalf of others, and monopolizing this right by a clique of them only for their historical record and seniority (13).
Article (17) of the Articles of Association also stipulates: "the MB chairman shall assume his power as long as he lives, unless otherwise there emerges a reason for his retirement. This is also mentioned in the Public Order, Article (13), which stipulates that the General Guide "shall maintain his post so long as he is qualified for that", a phrase that is more diplomatic than the previous one after a great deal of heated debate, but it does not add anything from the legal point of view, as it practically means that the MB chairman shall remain in his post till his death. Although the Public Order, Articles (22) and (30), restricts the term in office of both the Guidance Bureau and the Shura Council to four Hijri years, however, it does not define a term in office for the MB chairman, as if keeping a certain person in power is more important than keeping institutions in power (14). Furthermore, the MB chairman"s powers are almost countless: he is the head of the body, the Guidance Bureau, and the constituent body according to Article (10) of the Articles of Association. Moreover, he is entitled to annul decrees of the Investigation and Retribution Committee, and suspend members of the constituent body mentioned in Articles (37) and (39) respectively.
Regarding the conditions of selecting an MB chairman, Article (13) of the Public Order sets three conditions – other than the condition of being "Egyptian" or "the new Quraishite" (belonging to ancient Mecca"s main tribe of Quraish) as some call it – for the eligible candidate for post of the international organization"s chairman: he should not be less than 40 years of Hegira calendar, spending not less than 15 years of the Hegira calendar as an "active brother", and should be qualified in terms of knowledge – especially the Shari"a (Islamic law) – and the practical and moral qualifications that qualify him for leading the group (15). This reveals that the Ikhwan gave priority to seniority over leadership efficiency, which characterized the movement with obvious internal inflexibility and intransigence after the death of the founding imam and after the leading generation became old of age. This is, however, inevitable in every organization disregarding legitimacy and internal flexibility in its structure.
In this regard, Farid Abdel-Khaliq – a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure and a disciple of Hassan Al-Banna and was also a member of the constituent body and Guidance Bureau, but abandoned the movement since Omar Al-Telmisani assumed leadership in 1976– sees that inter-MB practices should be tackled in more freedom and democracy than before. Among the ideas he adopted, he adds, is that the MB chairman"s should remain in office only up to two 6-year terms. Abdel-Khaliq gives an ideological explanation of the MB leadership crisis, attributing it to mixing the "reasons for formation" and the "reasons for continuation" within the movement, i.e. Hassan Al-Banna was more in need of those who might appreciate his efforts and depend on them more than those who might sanctify and debate. However, the former trend prevailed among the Muslim Brotherhood (in
Secondly: The Renovation Trend and the Muslim Brotherhood Movement
Since late 1980s and early 1990s, the contemporary Islamic movement in general has been witnessing a large-scale internal critical reconsiderations, deep contemplations, criticism, and self-criticism in an almost comprehensive way including methods, strategies, concepts and ideas. It seems as if it– the Islamic movement– is looking forward to a fresh formulation to its movement structure and its Islamic civilization political project in a way that could get it out of the Islamic movement"s traditional crisis and inflexible conventional Islamic thought. However, the Islamic movement, like any social political phenomenon, is currently undergoing some difficulties and challenges that face its change reform political project. Such main challenges stem from three interacting levels:
First Level: International and Regional Environment"s Challenges, Including:
1- The US and Western hegemony challenge: This challenge has become so evident that most researchers agree that many facets of the Arab and Islamic countries" strategic decisions are defined by the
2- Settlement with the Hebrew state challenge:
3- Regimes-Islamic movement relationship challenge: Most of the political ruling regimes consider the Islamic movement their opposite and archrival at the present time. That"s why its social and political presence ranges between "outlawing" and "calculated legalization". Security is often the main tool of dealing with it, including arrests, detentions, aborting its activities, and paralyzing efficiency (17).
Second Level: Challenges of the Islamic Movement"s Societal Context, including:
1- Popularity of the Islamic movement: No real conviction can be proved so far at different Islamic and Arab countries" public opinion sectors that what the Islamic movement is providing is the demanded alternative of the reform and change requirements. the available indications in this regard (results of different level elections) pinpoint that the Islamic movement takes 20-25% at best of the sympathy in the societies of such countries. Anyway, reform or change can not be carried out only through sympathy, so to what extent has the Islamic movement studied its popularity at present? Is it the real popular, or rather the most organizational and discipline force? These are some questions that need definite answers.
2- The leading role in the society: The Islamic movement has introduced itself as the leader of reform and change in its societies, on the basis of public slogans. The phenomenon has been crystallizing for the last two decades during which the Islamic movement tried this, even partially, via different degrees of participation, but it failed to present real examples for the desired reform and change. Even the cases presented as examples of success achieved by the Islamic movement at the state level, such as Afghanistan, Sudan (in its early stages) and Iran, the current disagreements, conflicts and reconsiderations they are undergoing are so evident. As for the Islamic movement participating in political action, the achievement it has made at the reform and change level is still weak.
Third Level: Challenges from within the Islamic Movement itself, including:
1- "Vision and Project": The Islamic movement needs a clear-cut methodological vision to deal with ruling political authority and the ruled society as well as a political reform or change project. Therefore, there should be differentiation between an integrated political project, on the one hand, and the electoral platforms promoted by the movement in most countries where it practiced political and syndicate action, on the other hand. Therefore, the movement should admit that it has not presented an integrated political reform and change project at the national as well as international levels. This does not, however, mean that there are general ideas about the political vision, most of which are stemmed from the heritage of the movement, but need reconsideration. In a nutshell, the Islamic movement in general has not laid down a clear political reform and change project that can address the challenges it is facing at present (18).
2- Leadership: Most Islamic movement leaders belong to the founding generation. This leadership has not been yet passed down to other generations so that the movement can be tested as an institution and a rotation of leadership. Also, most of such leaders assumed their posts through equivocal undemocratic methods. Therefore, there are many questions regarding the shift from the type of "leadership" to "presidency" and from legitimacy based on "historical experience" to the legitimacy associated with the "actual achievement" and commitment to the building of real democratic establishments.
3- Contradictory visions regarding targets and methods of reform and change: The phenomenon of generations is natural and well-known in almost all human communities, including, of course, the Islamic movements as a societal trend. However, the crisis here has nothing to do with the existence or absence of generations but rather with the nature of relationship among such generations. It is not just an inter-generation crisis, i.e. a conflict over leadership, but the problem is that such generations pose dangers to the future of the movement. This is mainly represented in the different, contradictory and unharmonious visions regarding reform, change, the movement"s relationship with the state and society, etc (19).
In light of such challenges that face not only the Brotherhood but also the Islamic movement in general, there emerged some renovation attempts to upgrade the Islamic thought and action and formulate a fresh renovation methodology that is more of relativity than absoluteness, more of realism than idealism, and more of moderation than extremism. About this methodology, Hassan Al-Turabi, one of those who suggested and formulated it, says, while talking about the Islamic movement in Sudan, "After probing into absoluteness, abstractionism, generalization and globalizations in the movement"s call and thought, it shifted into realism. The steady development of the functions of the movement toward coherence with the society developed its own concerns to the society"s concerns" (20). In
It can be said that most Islamic movements" internal reconsiderations of their actions, schemes and strategies came in two main stages. The first took place in the early 1980"s when there was a large-scale Islamic renaissance in different Arab countries. The internal assessment at that stage was meant to keep abreast of the Islamic renaissance through intensifying the tempo of action and shifting from the stage of da"wa (call to Islam) and indoctrination into the political stage. The second stage took place in late 1980"s and early 1990"s when some Islamic movements discovered that their political and strategic calculations had not been accurate during the previous stage, as harm was getting more aggravated and they were shocked more than once while they were unready, a situation that led to profound schism inside Islamic movements. Assessment at that stage was focused on how to reconsider all that. The reconsiderations consequently led many Islamic movements to experience self variables and shifts. This was in the political side.
As for the ideological side, in the second half of the 1980"s, there was a remarkable development in the critical studies and researches of the Islamic movement, which was almost absent or rare, as writings that had to do with the Islamic movements concentrated in general on appreciating such movements rather than criticizing or rationalizing (22). Among such critical studies from within the Islamic movement were fi an-naqd az-zati: darurat an-naqd az-zati lil-harakah al-islamiah (On the Self Criticism: the Necessity of Self Criticism by the Islamic Movement) by Khalis Al-Gabali (1985); al-sahwah al-islamiah baina al-gumud wa at-tataruf (The Islamic Renaissance between Inflexibility and Extremism) by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi (1982); azmat al-wa‘i ad-dini (The Crisis of Religious Awareness) by Fahmi Huwaidi (1988); al-harakah al-islamiah fi ad-dawamah: hiwar hawla fikr Sayed Qutb (The Islamic Movement in a Whirlpool: Dialogue on Sayed Qutb"s Thought) by Salaheddin Al-Gurshi (1985); al-harakah al-islamiah: ru’yah mustaqbaliah - awraq fi an-naqd az-zati (The Islamic Movement: Future Vision - Papers in Self Criticism) edited and introduced by Abdullah Al-Nafisi (1989), and most of late Muhammad Al-Ghazali"s works such as as-sunnah an-nabawiyah baina ahlul-fiqh wa ahlul-hadith (The Prophet"s Traditions between Men of Fiqh and Men of Traditions) (1990) and turathuna al-fikri baina mizan ash-shar‘ wa mizan al-‘aql (Our Ideological Heritage between Shari"a and Reason), in addition to some significant symposiums such as "The National-Religious Dialogue" (23). This made a prominent intellectual event that increased vividness of change and shift, such as the opening up of some political movements into Islamic trends and getting closer to each other to the extent of cooperation and coordination. Some political regimes also got closer to Islamic movements, not to mention the major global developments that changed the standards and methods of thinking in general.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood from within, despite all the aforementioned challenges and renovation attempts experienced by the movement over three quarters of a century on the political or ideological arenas, such attempts have not reached, according to most observers, a considerable rate of some of its members, the stage of comprehensive and radical renovation of the movement"s thought and method of action. Some analysts attribute the Brotherhood"s failure – or rather inability – to radically and comprehensively reconsider its ideas and methods of action to the surrounding unnatural circumstances, such as detentions without charge or practicing activities without permission and other difficulties. Historically, the Muslim Brotherhood started its serious reconsiderations by Sayed Qutb, who had a great influence over the last decade, for concentrating on the Islamic creed issue and almost completely neglecting democracy and public liberties. Qutb focused mainly on exclusion, jahiliyah [the pre-Islamic era, but here means jahiliyah-like practices and ideas], discrimination and preferences. It was thus natural to develop a movement that clashes and gets isolated from the society rather than develops it. The Brotherhood tried to square up to such ideas, so they issued du‘ah la qudah (Preachers not Judges), a book written by their second MB chairman, counselor, Hassan Al-Hudhaibi. In this book, they distinctively differentiated between their ideas and Qutb"s, which mostly belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood ideology and which formed the modern Islamic jihad thought school. During the 1980"s and 1990"s, the Brotherhood experienced renovation attempts, especially among the middle-age ranks, focused on democracy, the ruling system, the relationship with other political forces, the status of Copts in the society and state, and the status of women.
The movement has been always witnessing callers for renovation and reconsideration, crystallizing sometimes in the form of "wings" inside the movement, which can be observed inside it at present. In general, the main demands of the internal renovation wings have been revolving around the axes that emphasizie the traditional historical stances of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially the fact that it is a group of Muslims not the Muslim group, the necessity of having internal dialogue channels, controlling relationship with the authorities, and the administrative and leadership mechanisms. In the current stage, it is observed that although such ideas are not primarily objected by Brotherhood members, it seems that the movement"s traditional concerns in light of its distressed experiments on the one hand and the adopted ways of calling for renovation and reform on the other hand widened the gap between the two sides so much so that growing disagreements over some issues have become seriously imminent in a way that threatens the group"s internal unity and cohesion.
Among the renovation initiatives that have been recently put up inside the group was an initiative made by Prof. Essam Al-Eryan, a prominent middle-age key figure and former MP, to the effect that the group has to conduct a reconsideration after the September 11 incidents. He suggests that this can be implemented through the following four reconsideration frameworks:
Educationally: The group needs, according to him, not to prioritize the organizational side over the da‘wa side due to security pressure, and recognize, get prepared for understanding and respecting difference with the other with all its diversities. Al-Eryan ascribes the reason for such reconsideration to that fact that the educational methods inside the group do not date back to the eras of freedom, namely the 1930"s and 1940"s, but rather the eras of distress and ordeals on the Muslim Brotherhood, which created a special visualization about the other. That is why such educational methods regard the other as the one who wants to crush them and exterminate their existence.
At the da‘wa level: The MB key figure sees that the group needs a more tolerant internal discourse, criticizing what he considers a blight cast on the group with the dominance of the Salafi thought during the 1970"s and 1980"s. It was the blight of extremism and preferring hard-line opinions in fiqh issues. Therefore, the da‘wa discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood needs, according to Al-Eryan, more tolerance.
Politically: Al-Eryan believes that it is high time to develop the Muslim Brotherhood"s platform and plans of action for reconciliation with the ruling regime and participating with the political powers, a basic condition for reform, which could not be achieved without a sort of calm relationship with the ruling regimes. Regarding the ways and means of reconciliation with the ruling regime in
Socially: Al-Eryan believes that the Muslim Brotherhood should pay much attention to the social problems that have been prevailing in and pose a threat to the society so as to offer the remedy, as he views that it is unreasonable that the group wins political gains at a deteriorating society. Therefore, they should pay heed to different moral and social problems, including addiction and extremism. The Muslim Brotherhood should honestly, according to him, despite the pressures they are undergoing, exert efforts to remedy such problems and offer practical solutions to them (24).
At the same time, another renovation initiative was made by middle-age key figure, Mukhtar Noah, former Bar Association treasurer and former MB parliamentary member. He made his initiative following a 3-year prison sentence. The initiative aims at– according to his remarks to Islamonline– to improve the relations between the Egyptian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood and defusing the tension between them (25). The Muslim Brotherhood-state crisis lies, Noah says, in the existence of "wrong messages" between the two parties. The government has a wrong message that the Muslim Brothers are "power seekers" and want to reach power by any means and that they are preparing themselves as alternative to the ruling regime, while the message understood by the Muslim Brothers is that the ruling regime seeks to exterminate them completely. Noah views that both messages are incorrect. Neither the government wants to exterminate the Muslim Brothers nor the Muslim Brothers want to assume power or prepare themselves to be alternative. Those messages are delivered by many ways, some of which are unintentional but full of mistakes and some others are intentional and come from inside security agencies, as there are many who do not want to see the crisis solved or the file closed and they, therefore, play a role in adding fuel to the fire, he points out.
In order to overcome such "wrong messages", Noah suggests a four-points initiative:
Firstly: Providing a period of tranquility to allow absorping the new international variables and developments, as he sees that, over the last years, the Muslim Brotherhood hasn"t been given the opportunity to catch their breath and think calmly. All the procedures taken by the state against them are frustrating and make them feel that the state seeks to uproot them, something confirming the "wrong messages" sent to them.
Secondly: Removing the "infectious" factors and paving the way for a new contract between the state and the group.
Thirdly: The careful selection of the "messenger" and the "message" between the two parties.
Fourthly: The two parties should also be convinced that procedural mistakes were committed, as any political action should, in one way or another, include mistakes. Recognition of such mistakes would be the first step toward resolving them.
Noah called on the Muslim Brotherhood to understand the post-September 11 developments, which imposed good pressure on the Egyptian regime in a way that leads to a harmony between the requirements of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the state. It is unreasonable, he opines, that some call for Western democracy without preparing the public atmosphere for that. The Egyptian political reality allows a good margin for movement whether for individuals or groups provided that there should be national concord between the state, on the one hand, and the political forces, on the other hand, he said. This concord, he says, is the most important form among the three allowed legal forms in political action in
Noah"s initiative was received by negative reactions and reservations on the part of the MB leaders. On his first comment on the initiative, late MB chairman, Mustafa Mashhour said, as quoted by Islamonline, that he did not meet Noah since he was released from prison on
Prof. Abdel-Men"em Abu Al-Fotouh, one of Middle Generation and member of Guidance Office, asserted that the Guidance Office knew nothing about such an initiative. He also objected to the initiative because it was produced by Security authorities, something contradictory to the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood"s activity which had nothing to do with security. On the other hand, reconciliation and initiatives can be accepted between security authorities and the Islamic group which used force to deter the government, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood movement is merely a political entity based on constitutional grounds that allows forming parties that comply with social values and seek rule via legal means. In this regard, Abu Al Fotouh refused the notion of "wrong messages", which Nouh had used to explain the government-Muslim Brotherhood crisis and refused it as a basis for his so-called initiative, denying that stable, powerful Egyptian governance is a victim of false messages. Moreover, Abu Al Fotouh said the Muslim Brotherhood Movement turned down "satisfactions" via governmental grants or gifts, shedding light on the Muslim Brotherhood"s claim to properly and legally practicing its constitutional rights. Talks of reconciliation and satisfaction are completely unaccepted. However, Abu Al Fotouh emphasized that the movement could never pass over the home interests. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement could, according to him, postpone the search for its own interests and claims under solidarity of all parties in the face of the risks increasing around the region, in
Through the previous outlook, two significant issues coming into light within these Reconsiderations led by the "renovation trend" can be noticed. The two issues were highlighted by scholars specialized in studying the Islamic movements. The first issue is the hypersensitivity of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders towards the idea of "Reconsideration" which was clear in the speeches of the MB chairman and the movement"s "Middle Generation". All the movement figures were careful to assert that "Reconsideration" is to be adopted by an Islamic group that adopts violence as the only means to change society. On the contrary, the Muslim Brotherhood Movement, according to them, had nothing to do with violence, thus Reconsiderations are not required!? In fact, such hypersensitivity is groundless because the Reconsideration of political, religious and social movements is a steady vital prerequisite for the movement continuity. Reconsideration is a legal, human and logical necessity for improvement, to define goals and to develop approaches (29). The second issue related to Reconsideration and is made by renovation trend is the warning against "Self-criticism" claiming that the movement is always a prey to prejudices, suppressions and crises. This criticism can, eventually, lead to deterioration and pave the way for ordeal. Such a reason is merely an excuse for the movement"s inability to do self-criticism to support the social movement. A social movement having fears of renovation and self-criticism is unqualified for correct development. Thus, it is necessary that the Muslim Brotherhoo Movement, with such a deep-rooted history in the modern Arab and Islamic revival, avoid opposition with such a renovation, Reconsideration and self-criticism. Whereas the armed groups began to reconsider the approach of using violence and force, peaceful Islamic groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood Movement, will, more or less and on different levels, be prone to development and change (30).
The history of Muslim Brotherhood Movement reflects its new ideas in the form of documents and data directed to the nation since the Mid-1990s. The following are the most important changes and turns within the Muslim Movement group throughout the last few years:
View towards the Other: After independence and establishing the state system in the Arab World, discord and conflicts spread over the Islamic trend and other intellectual political trends. To make it worse, mistrust controlled the two parties" relationships for a long period of time. Citing the Islamic and national trends as an example, Tarek Al Beshri said: "The relationship between the two parties was based, throughout the last few decades, on exclusion, not understanding and military confrontation rather than debating." (31). Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood"s view towards the Other, including Christians, various parties and active Islamic groups, Prof. Essam Al Erian revealed, "In this regard, the Muslim Brotherhood has an old clear-cut view based on religious and political priciples; it is the general acceptance of the other, and i.e. "we (the Muslim Brotherhood) accept to deal with others, irrespective of the differences in beliefs and religion". As for the differnce in religion, the Muslim Brotherhood believes that it is indebatable because no one is enforced to embrace Islam; Muslims and non-Muslims have the very rights and duties. On the other hand, political acceptance relied on other grounds. According to Al Erian, the movement has no objections to other political parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, conversely, accepted multi-political parties within the Muslim Community.It also support the rule of the constitution and judiciary to deter those who oppose the constitution or laws. The movement had previously coordinated with the remaining political parties, such as Al Wafd, Al Ahrar and Labor Parties, which share the same view towards participating in or boycotting elections to adopt coordinated political views, according to requirements of the situation on the ground. Regarding accepting the Other in the Islamic action, the Muslim Brotherhood leader asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood was of the opinion that no agreement can be reached on disputable religious sub-issues. Thus the movement has no problem with different points of view. The Movement adheres to the old slogan declared by its founder, Hassan Al Bana, "Within the Islamic field, we are on good terms with the others. Our relationships are dominated by love, brotherhood and loyalty in search for understanding, consultation, coordination and cooperation with all those operating in the Islamic arena." (32)
Power rotation: as for the issue of power rotation and the well-known and pivotal question: What will happen if the Muslim Brotherhood Movement assumes power, will it allow parties of different ideologies and orientations to take part? Al Erian said that all Islamic trends agree that the basis of reaching power is a popular approval through general elections. Thus, all trends and parties adherent to the constitution and law can assume power with no little trouble. In this regard, Al Erian called to reconsider and employ the Western innovation of ssuming power in order to prevent the old and modern conflicts of seeking power. As for the issue of allowing the existence of a communist party, Al-Erian declared that the group is committed to an old rule stating that people should not be condemned for the ideas inside their minds; thus, the group is expecting every political group to announce its ideas, ideologies and programs in written documents. The Muslim Brotherhood leader did not express, within this context, a clear acceptance of such a party, but he newly asserted that all parties should respect the constitution provision stipulating that the Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation, considering that all parties commitment to the constitution in full and to law is the condition of forming and maintaining the Egyptian parties, and the entity which is entitled to render a judgment in that respect is only the judiciary.(33)
Attitude toward Democracy: observers of the contemporary Islamic discourse and movement with its cultural productivity observe that there are new readings that qualitatively vary from previous readings of some certain debatable issues with Islamic thought, such as the issue of democracy. Within this context, it is observed that the new Islamic readings witness a sort of transformation from "the absolute" to "the relative" when considering the issue of "democracy"; from being a social and philosophical approach that differs the content of Islamic thought to being comprised of desired and preferable gains, and simultaneously is not in conflict with the purposes of Islamic legislation. According to the Muslim Brotherhood thought, democracy means the peaceful coexistence among various groups, the separation between the three powers in the state, peaceful rotation of power, Shura, election and giving the people the right to express themselves, as well as applying the principle of majority, provided that it does not conflict with any of the basics of Islamic Sharia. Since early 1990s, the issue of democracy has been a hotbed of debate through an increasing and intensive rhetoric tone within the contemporary Islamic discourse, through various kinds of historical, philosophical, political and linguistic understanding and analysis uncovering the transformation of the political viewpoint and a change in the political intellectual theory.(34) Some aspects of democracy are evident in the Muslim Brotherhood group while formulating its political project, giving priorities to freedoms and human rights and political participation, as well as the formulation of its internal structure administratively and organizationally according to the methods of Shura and democracy through enlarging the circle of participation by expressing one"s own vote, the formulation of the political and organizational attitude and decision, and the approval of nomination and election system, and applying the principle of the majority of votes. (35)
In a more advanced step towards crystallizing the group"s attitude towrds democracy as well as rotation of power, and within the context of the reform process in the Arab world, especially in Egypt, the group announced in March 2004 its 18 article- reform initiative that includes acknowledgeing that people are the source of power without any sort of domination by any individual, political party or group, respecting the principle of the rotation of power, confirming the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to form political parties without any intervention from the administrative authorities, freedom of holding peaceful rallies and demonstrations, impartiality of election, canceling the army"s role in politics, confirming the civil nature of the police departments, and security services, defining the tasks of all these authorities, in a clear-cut manner as prescribed by the provisions of the constitution, limiting the president"s powers, separating between heading the state and heading the political party, canceling ill-reputed laws, canceling laws blocking activities of professional and vocational syndicates. The content of this imitative shows that the Muslim Brotherhood presses for the common targets included in the claims and reform priorities of most political powers, in addition to its stressing on some elements of special symbolic importance to the Muslim Brotherhood, especially stressing on the freedom to form political parties and neutralizing the security services.
Transformation to a political party: according to the aforementioned in relation the Muslim Brotherhood"s accepting the principle of political pluralism, and consequently, a possible participation for the political groups in the state political institutions, voices are arising inside the group wishing to and claim the right to form a legitimate political party under its name. Although this movement constitutes the overwhelming majority of the group"s members, the group has not yet internally decided whether forming a party shall mean the end of the group and its dissolution inside the party, or it shall continue side by side with this party? In fact, the blatant and continuous rejection of the Egyptian government to allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to form a legitimate and political party relieved the group from a serious internal debate on the future of the group in case the government approves forming a party for the Muslim Brotherhood; this issue died down inside the group and was discussed only publicly. But initial indications show that the dominant viewpoint among the members of the middle generation is calling for striving to reach a final decision in relation to the concept of the Brotherhood organizational "identity" through a full transformation toward the institutional political action and forming a party that may constitute a complete alternative to the group.
With all this internal vagueness of the impact of a party on the group"s fate, voices of many members and leaders in the group rise from time to time in political and press forums asking for allowing the Brotherhood to form a political party, criticizing the government for its rejection to grant the group this right. Some leaders of the group think that there are several reasons for this government rejection, some are general, due to the fact that the political system lacks a true political will that allows forming genuine political parties, evident against the parties law that imposes obstacles and barriers in front of forming new parties, and others are related to an obvious commanding decision preventing the existence of any political party adopting an Islamic ideology even if it showed high flexibility, while a third party views the Muslim Brotherhood as a very strong political movement with a large presence in the Egyptian street, and that the political regime wants to weaken this power and its presence. (36)
Third: Relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Political Authority
The relationship with the political authority still represents the real challenge which the Muslim Brotherhood is facing. It is related to the phase of largest transformations within Islamic movements, whereas the call for a peaceful approach has put Arab governments, including the Egyptian government, in a definite situation. While the Egyptian government, the Egyptian Iterior Ministry, has welcomed the intellectual revision of the Muslim group, and still continues to pursue the security confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood, in spite of its peaceful approach. If the government welcomes really the peaceful transformation of the Muslim Brotherhood, but does not acknowledge- at the same time- the right of the peaceful Muslim Brotherhood to practice the public action, then this should mean that the official attitude of the Egyptian government is still refusing to give the Islamic movement its right to practice the peaceful political action (37). There are no many available options for the Muslim Brotherhood as the present authority still rejects all kinds of fair and peaceful competition, as well as the collusion of the international powers which do not want the Islamic movements to politically express themselves, thus affecting the status quo of our societies. Consequently, the choices are often limited to one of two things: either to cooperate with the present political systems, or to accept the role of illegal opposition (38). If one of the major disadvantages of the despotic regimes blocked all paths of the political experiences and maturity in front of people, Islamists would, too, through focusing on the seizure of political power, directly, without any preliminary steps, miss the opportunity to learn anything related to the political process itself, including negotiation, relinquishment, decision making and developing procedural rules to practice political power (39).
The relationship of the Muslim Brotherhood with the political authorities went through 3 phases, the first of which could be described as the period of establishment, spread and popularity, which extends from 1928 until the assassination of its founder, Imam Hasan El-Banna on
With the assassination of President Sadat in 1981, and tensions and escalations flared up laying heavy burdens on Egypt during the last four years of his leadership, the members of this new generation started to work actively to establish and build the group, after they had graduated from universities and acquired well-respected professions in society. They were able to realize achievements on both political and syndicalistic levels more than the group could do during its previous history. The group could overrun the elections of most Egyptian professional syndicates, Teaching Staff Clubs in various universities. The group could also, despite the continuous legal prohibition imposed thereon, to win parliament seats for its members, most of whom are the sons of that generation, during 3 election (1984, 1987 and 2000) (40).
It could be said that the relationship of the Muslim Brotherhood with the Egyptian State in President Mubarak era since 1981 had gone through three stages: the first one, which could be described as the period of "disregard and tolerance", extended from the assassination of president Sadat until about 1988, during which the major target of the state was to break up the state of tensions that accompanied and followed the assassination, provided that this would create new ruling legitimacy, whose core was based on national conciliation and interaction with the major political powers. It led to giving the Muslim Brotherhood a large amount of free movement and expression without reaching an official acknowledgement of the legitimacy of its existence. This stage enabled the Brotherhood to support its political and social existence in
In 1992, the Muslim Brotherhood managed to take hold of the Bar association board which had been, throughout its history, monopolized by both the liberal and governmental trends, which led the state to get alarmed. In the midest of the same year, the most aggressive wave of Islamic violence, which was carried out by both Al-Jama"a al-Islmiya "the Islamic Group" and "Jihad" broke out, during which the state blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for not condemning them, and merely announcing pompous statements. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood"s relationshipwith the government entered the third stage, which started in early 1993 and has continued until now, a period called "deterioration and clash". The government decided to enter into confrontation with the group is because its spread in various sectors of political and syndicalistic activities coincided with the large and harsh wave of Islamic violence, making the government consider this as two aspects of the same phenomenon, i.e. the Islamic awakening, as it has seen no intrinsic differences between the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic violence groups. In addition, the government considered the banned group as a growing political danger threatening its rule in the country, especially after the successes it achieved in many public and syndicate elections, things the state saw as "alarm bells" and should be paid attention and be dealt with as a political rival to it, which can, when appropriate, threaten the power of the government (41).
The political fears from the Muslim Brotherhood led the state to adopt the strategy of "premature abortion" when confronting it since the end of 1994. This strategy includes carrying out successive and separate cackdowns on the group in order to achieve two major targets: First, exhausting it through bringing it before courts, and sending its leaders and members to jail for sentences, second: depriving the group of the ability up ths lengthesd of 1994us to move with its full power, especially during public political campaign, whether nationally, regionally or internationally, in addition to achieve another target which is more general and central, that is to address a clear political message to the group as well as the other political powers which care about the conditions of political Islam in up as eEgypt implying that the state is insisting on its attitude of not allowing - at any time and under whatever circumstances – the grant the – banned - group a legal and a legitimate position enabling it to interact in the political and social arena as other legitimate political powers (42). The governmental campaigns have especially focused on the second generation of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has achieved the political and electoral victories for the group, whether inside the parliament or the professional syndicates, and which has carried out the "second establishment" thereof, while it did not approach, but rarely, the older generation who is responsible for the "first establishment" whose importance declined within its actual activities for the interest of the first generation.
The state increased the use of this strategy following the success of the Brotherhood of acquiring 17 seats in the last People"s Assembly election in 2000 at the same time when all the legitimate parties could acquire only 16 seats. Afterwards occurred the incidents of September 11th and its consequences, which led the Egyptian government to decide to intensify its campaigns against the banned group in
This developments have affected the discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood following appointing Mohamed Mahdy Akef as MB chairman; he adopted a sort of an anti-government discourse which an amount of tension and criticism. Mr. Akef asserted that no positive changes had occurred regarding the MB relation with the government as many of the group members are still behind bars, indicating that he was expecting the Egyptian government to achieve, during such conditions and international challenges, a better understanding between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood as a group who has the most prominent presence on the Egyptian political arena (44).
The aforementioned course of the Brotherhood relationship to the state shows that the Muslim Brotherhood movement had always to deal with a number of key intellectual and political dualisms in order to achieve a fruitful cooperation or an acceptable co-existence with the ruling regime. One of these dualisms is the duality of acceptance and rejection, whereas the first thing that confronts the movement within this course is the challenge of accepting the political regime as a prerequisite for the co-existence policy, and rejecting the legitimacy of this power at the same time, for which the movement, however, seeks to find an alternative. This is a highly complicated formula, which one of the researchers described as the combination of: "permitted work methods under the ruling regime, and the work method rejecting the basis of this regime." (45) In addition, there is the dualism of disregard and justification, whereas the co-existence or cooperation with the ruling regime requires disregarding some certain matters without any justification thereof, but it seems that the borders between the processes of cooperation or disregard and justification are not crystal clear for some members of the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other hand, there is the duality of opposition and confrontation, as the opposition does not necessarily mean the other; any thoughtless deficiency in relation to this formula may have a negative effect on both the movement and the society. A researcher concerned with Islamic movements has observed that there is "some kind of clear mixing among the members of the Islamic movement between the concepts of "opposing the ruling regime" and the "struggle against this regime." (46) Finally, there the duality of address and effectiveness, whereas some Muslim Brotherhood groups abstain from forming an alliance with non-Islamist ruler, or with a national political power in order to maintain the pure image of its members, thus, missing the strategic gain that may be the future result thereof. When former president Abdel-Nasser asked the then Brotherhood Chairman, Hasan Al-Hudaiby, to nominate one of the group"s members to participate in his regime, he refused to do so unless the there was a 100 % Islamic rule, and contended himself with nominating some competent persons who were not members of the Brotherhood. One of the researchers called this phenomenon "image worshipping", whose essence represents a failure to harmonize between requirements of the mission and the discourse, and those of political effectiveness (47).
Fourth: 2002 Interactions
This section will focus on studying the most prominent reactions of the political role of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in
People"s Assembly"s Complimentary Elections in
People"s Assembly"s Complimentary Elections in
The aforementioned judgment was followed by another one issued by the Interior Ministry. It stated that the elections would be run within the constituency on
However, the government, in light of such results, insisted on postponing the elections according to the aforementioned ruling by the
The elections coincided with large-scale riots and the Egyptian authorities reacted against what they looked upon as an escalation by the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, the State Security Prosecution sent 101 people, arrested by the police, to jail for 15 days pending investigation, on charges of demonstrating, enciting the public, revolting against public order, violating security and threatening social peace. Interrogations proved that the suspects tried to interrupt the course of elections using force, reiterated slogans jeopardizing social security and peace, attacked security forces, and sabotaged 6 buses by throwing stones at them. The procedure taken by Egyptian authorities came as a new blow to the movement which hoped to win two seats in People"s Assembly, a wish for which one lady was elected to win one of the two seats, such an unprecedented action in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to emphasize the shift and change made to the movement"s thought and that the Muslim Brotherhood was not against women"s involvement in the public work (48).
Observers agree that this issue reveals one of the negative phenomena within the Egyptian community; which is people"s unwillingness to put the judicial rulings into force. The main reason for the Al-Raml consistency crisis was the Ministry of Interior"s insistence on not complying with the binding rulings of the court to postpone the elections. The ministry, instead, made an appeal against the ruling in the ordinary judiciary in order to bypass the ruling and evade implementing it. Although the last ruling of the ordinary court could be challenged before the Supreme Administrative Court, the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court is self-executing regardless of any appeal as stated in the two Articles 49 and 50 of the State Council Law No. 47 of the year 1972. Such a ruling could never be challenged except when stopped by the appellation district of the
B- Arrest and Detention Campaigns Against the Muslim Brotherhood
The arrest campaigns by Egyptian authorities against the Muslim Brotherhood are the most feasible and practical application of the governments" policy towards the movement. The first sign of a confrontation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government was the latter"s uncovering "Salsabeal PC" in 1992 and sending a big number of the movement members to the
The Egyptian government, on the other hand, issued Law No, 100 of the year 1993 concerning organizing the professional syndicates when the Muslim Brotherhood managed to rule over the board of directors of the Lawyers (Bar) Syndicate. In mid 1990, a steamy confrontation took place between the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood inside the Lawyers (Bar) Syndicate after assassinating lawyer Abdel-Harith Madani and accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of assassinating him. In the summer of 1994, the government excluded the Muslim Brotherhood from the National Dialogue Conference. This was accompanied by a crackdown of arrests which put, for the first time, leading figures in the movement under arrest. Ibrahim Sharaf and other outstanding political leaders such as Mukhtar Nuh were among the detainees. However, such campaigns were but a warning message to the leadership and grassroots of the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, only one week before the Egyptian Legislative elections (November 1995), the Military Court sentenced 54 of the movement cadres and also issued a decree to the effect of the closure of the movement"s downtown headquarters (At-Tawfiqiya), confiscation of their funds and files and banning their magazine (al-Da"wa). The rulings dealt with two separate cases with 82 defendants, 27 of them were acquitted and 5 were sentenced 5 years penal servitude, among them were Prof. Essam Al-Irian, one of the candidates. The remaining 49 members were sentenced to 3 years penal servitude, among them were Prof. Abdel-Min"em Abul-Futuh and Prof. Muhammad Al-Sayyid Habib. The rulings were based upon their conviction of attempting to revive an illegitimate organization with a view to obstructing the country"s laws and institution. The Egyptian government had already decided in 1954 to dismantle the movement- established by Hasan Al-Banna in 1954- and ban its activities.
Moreover, the Egyptian authorities released, as a sudden step, the member of the Executive Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, Prof. Rashad Al-Bayumi, implementing a ruling by the State Security Prosecution. This took place three days after the movement appointed Mamoun Al-Hudaibi as MB chairman. Also released were other 19 MB icons who had been arrested during that security crackdown on
Here is a number of the cases some of the Ikhwan elements were involved in during 2002:
- Case No. 1066 of the year 2001; 16 people accused of joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (by the end of 2001).
- Case No. 196 of the year 2002; 8 people accused of joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 583 of the year 2002; 6 people charged with publishing printouts accusing the government of neglecting the Egyptian public.
- Case No. 703 of the year 2002; 22 people were accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 760 of the year 2002; 28 people were accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 796 of the year 2002; 33 people were accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 868 of the year 2002; 12 people accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 872 of the year 2002; 5 people accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 876 of the year 2002; 6 people accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 881 of the year 2002; 21 people accused of joining the politically outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
- Case No. 884 of the year 2002; 2 people accused of joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (51).
This, however, shows how hectic the relationship between the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood has been; such a roller-coaster relationship in light of crackdowns and arresting a large number of the MB members, sending most of them to military courts. It"s noteworthy that members and leaders of the movement almost received the same charges (establishment of an underground organization that opposes the regime, possession of printouts to topple the regime, masterminding demonstrations to obscure peace and public security). Such campaigns of arrest and detention undoubtdly reflect the strategy adopted by the Egyptian government against the movement since late 1994, a strategy which could be known as "premature-abortion strategy" (52).
C- Muslim Brotherhood in Parliament
Political action is of great concern to the Muslim Brotherhood. The group did not only manage to penetrate into professional entities, syndicates and student unions, but it also managed to join the legislative elections three times in 1984, 1987 and 2000 despite banning its activities. We will focus our analysis on the latest elections and the performance of the MB representatives inside parliament.
One of the most critical developments for the Muslim Brotherhood in the People"s Assembly in 2002 was when Prof. Gamal Heshmat, MP for Damanhour constituency in Behaira Governorate, got struck off. The People"s Assembly agreed to drop Heshmat"s membership at its session on
Muslim Brotherhood Representatives" Performance Throughout the Third Session
The People"s Assembly Third Session witnessed a strong participation on the part of Muslim Brotherhood MPs, either in matters related to membership of the assembly"s specific committees or participating in monitoring activities.
Specific Committees Membership: the People"s Assembly Third Session began with Ikhwan simple shifts within the assembly"s specific committees; Prof. Akram Al-Sha"er joined the Committee on Foreign Relationships as a major member retaining the reserve membership of Committee on Planning and Budget, of which he was a major member throughout the last two sessions. In addition, Prof. Mohammed Mursi, Brotherhood Parliamentary bloc spokesman, joined the Constitutional and Legislative Committee as a substitute for the Committee on Industry and Energy in addition to his key membership in the Committee on Education and Scientific Research. Moreover, Prof. Hamdy Hassan became a major member of Economic Committee and a substitute member of Health Committee and Mohammed Al-Adly joined the Youth Committee as a major member. In this regard, representatives Aly Laban and Mohammed Al-Gharabawy remained as members of Committee on Education, Mahfouz Helmi and Mustafa Mohammed Mustafa as members of Committee on Industry, Azzab Mustafa and Saber Abdel-Sadek as members of Committee on Housing, Al-Sayyid Abdel-Hamid as members of Committee on Health, Al-Sayyid Hozein as a member of Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation, Hussein Mohammed Ibrahim as a member of Committee on Proposals and Complaints, Mustafa Awadalla as a member of Arab Affairs Committee, Aly Fath Al-Bab as a member of Labor Committee and Hasanin Al-Shura as a major member of Committee on Local Administration and a substitute member of Committee on Transportation.
Participation in the Parliamentary Monitoring: Muslim brotherhood members submit some significant inquiries, the most important of which were that of Prof. Akram Al-Sha"er about Lake Manzala, two inquiries by Prof. Hamdy Hassan about the destruction of Lake Mariout and the Egyptian Villagers Development Project and that inquiry by Hussein Mohammed Ibrahim about the serious problem of Al Nasr Salines and a number of other inquiries relating to agriculture, banks and education issues (53). Moreover, the Brotherhood Movement representatives submitted some quests for notification and questions and proposed some draft laws to the PA. Examples are shown below.
Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood submitted a number of inquiries, two of them by Prof. Hamdy Hassan: the first inquiry was about the destruction and pollution of
Meanwhile, Azzab Mustafa submitted another inquiry about bank corruptions, making it clear that he had "critical documents" that proved bank figures" involvement with facilitating loan making for fugitive businessmen. Azzab added that his inquiry was an attempt to improve the deteriorating position of such a vital sector. The inquiry focused on the reasons for such deterioration and its political, economic and social impacts on the Egyptian society. Azzab also encompassed appropriate solutions and an alternative vision to reform the banking system via Islamic experiences (54). Meanwhile, Prof. Akram Al- Sha"er submitted his inquiry about the negative consequences of cancellation of Port Said Tax-Free Zone by a Decree of Ex-Prime Minister Prof. Atef Ebaid. He asserted that it was a wrong decree, emphasizing the resulting negative impacts on the governorate"s income due to the low customs fees and moribund tourism. That was Al-Sha"er"s first time to discuss an inquiry in the assembly despite the fact that he had submitted 5 inquiries that were never discussed (55).
Prof. Hamdy Hassan interrogated Prof. Atef Ebaid and ex-Minister of Agriculture Prof. Youssef Wali about the Pilot Project on Developing Human Environment in the Egyptian desert, a project enrolled in the five-year state plan. Prof. Hassan held both Ebaid and Wali responsible for bringing one of the successful national projects to a halt and giving no attention to the project"s research findings, which would cause an unprecedented increase in the feddan productivity, according to the words of all officials who monitored the project. In this regard, Hassan called upon the government not to impede the "pioneering" project, which managed to "introduce a desert residence model" in tune with that introduced by the international Egyptian scientist Hassan Fathy, at just 5% of the cost of the ordinary system. Prof. Hassan also impeached both Ebaid and Wali for not taking the chance for Egypt to become the Middle East first investment market according to UNESCO reports as well as making Egypt unable to achieve food and water self-sufficiency because they exerted no effort to develop other alternative water resources other than the Valley and the River Nile. Hassan also blamed the two ex-officials for wasting public money due to entrusting a corrupt financial administration. Prof. Hassan stressed the point that the project set up some 24 pilot research centers across
B. Questions & Quests for Notification
The questions and quests for notification, submitted by the Muslim Brotherhood representatives, addressed many political, social, economic and educational policies as follows:
Representatives Aly Laban and Akram Al-Sha"er asked the Prime Minister about the closure of five Azhar legal faculties in
Prof. Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood Spokesman and member of Committee on Education, submitted a quest for notification to Minister of Education on chaotic education policies over the past decade. The quest for notification covered many topics, including the high-school system"s shifting from one-year system to the two-year system and cancellation of grade improvement, which confused teachers, students, and parents and caused the educational process to be inefficient too. In addition, the representative referred to the illegal decisions made, such as transferring teachers to administrative positions and remote governorates without being interrogated, and other decisions made by the ministry of education that put the educational process in this critical position. He also shed light on the primary education system shifting from a six-year system to that five-year system then back to six-year system again, which led the primary education to chaos throughout the last decade and had negative impacts on education stability (58).
In a question to the Prime Minister on
Hasaneen Al-Shura asked Prime Minister about the rise in essential needs prices, especially bread, heating oil, sugar, clothes, school tools and expenses...etc. The representative inquired about the procedures the government took or about to take to control prices (60).
Mahfouz Helmi asked the Prime Minister and Ex-Minister of Public Business Sector to submit a statement on the activity; profits and losses of the sector"s companies as well as the procedures taken to hold those responsible for the collapse of many companies accountable. The representative leaned on a CAO"s report on evaluation of Public Business Sector and Public Sector companies" performance in 2002. The report revealed breakdown of 228 companies due to administrative deviations for billions of pounds were spent on badly-studied projects and adopting bad purchasing policies, which led eventually to grave losses. In spite of much warning against companies" breakdown due to inefficient management, negligence, weak control, fragile financing structures and accumulation of local and foreign debts, nothing was done to punish those involved in such a breakdown (61).
Aly Fath Al-Bab asked Minister of Foreign Affairs about the nuclear missiles the Zionists have and the threat they pose to
Al-Sayyid Hozein asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs about the
Prof. Mohammed Mursi submitted a quest for notification to Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research about the bad, deteriorating services provided in educational hospitals. In addition, the representative relied on a CAO"s report revealing serious dissents within the educational hospitals such as expired in-use medicines, lack of beds for free-of-charge patients, shortage of medical important medication and requirements as well as the low-level services. As a result, these factors influenced the medical services provided to the poor and low-income citizens, eventually endangering the Egyptian citizen"s health (64).
The same representative submitted a quest for notification concerning the loss of more than L.E.20bn in the Housing Sector; for the new urban communities were still suffering from the poor vital services, such as insufficient means of transport, lack of schools, hospitals and security units. This, in turn, caused the dead stock rise of L.E.5.6bn, the value of residences and lands designed for residential, industrial and commercial purposes. He added that despite the huge value, the luxury investment in these cities cost more than L.E.13bn with no purchasing power or real demand for such real estate projects. Furthermore, the CAO"s report revealed scandalous deviations at the Fayoum Building Cooperative Society, affiliated to
Moreover, the same representative submitted a quest for notification to Minister of Education about the loss of some L.E. 2.6mn as actual investments made by General Authority for Educational Buildings. In this regard, the representative referred to a CAO"s report on L.E. 2,615,000mn investments made by General Authority for Educational Buildings which haven"t been made use of. services provided to te nes es provided inn tion ad Some other L.E.3.2mn educational constructions in the governorates of Assiut and Gharbeya were useless too (66).
C. Draft Laws
The representative Prof. Akram Al-Sha"er submitted a draft law to appoint jobless teachers pursuant to 3-year-temporary contracts to be officially appointed with no need to the Ministry"s competition. Committee on Proposals and Complaints approved the draft law. In addition, the Committee and representatives of Ministry of Finance approved the representative"s proposal for teachers to get their salaries plus an annual overall reward and have a share of the rung of the ladder, as partial solution to the unemployment problem (67).
In addition, Al-Sha"er came up with a bill to permit the Azhar-high-school graduates to join
Muslim Brotherhood representative Hamdy Hassan submitted a bill opposing the remand procedure for journalists or physicians due to wrong professional practices. In this respect, the representative suggested that a new article No. "135" be added to Criminal Procedure Law prohibiting remand in press crimes unless the crime is stipulated under Law No.179 of Penalty Law. In addition, the proposed article prohibits remand for physicians when committing unintended errors that would harm patients. Moreover, the representative revealed in the bill clarification memorandum that remand is a kind of deprivation of freedom for a time period determined by inquiries in accordance with law disciplines. Thus, remand is the most dangerous interrogation procedure as a violation of individual freedom (69).
D. Government Statement and Budget
For the third year respectively, the Muslim Brotherhood representatives kept rejecting the Financial Statement and the State Budget submitted by ex-prime minister Prof. Atef Ebaid to People"s Assembly. The Budget, according to the representatives, had brilliant figures and, thus, was far from reality and actual potentials of the state. The Muslim brotherhood representatives, the strongest anti-budget voice, submitted a detailed refusal notice concerning the financial statement or plan. Eventually, they rejected the proposed budget under the claim that it had nothing to do with the ambitions and needs of the public.
In this regard, Prof. Mohammed Mursi, Head of Muslim Brotherhood Parliament Authority, rejected the government"s explanations for the economic crisis and the Minister of Finance"s statement which ascribed the national economic crisis to the world economic variables, 9/11 attacks and war on Iraq. And instead of taking such factors into account, the government officials kept blaming the crisis on the outside world. Mursi also pointed out that being fragile to world events reflects the state"s inability to learn the lessons of the past economic global crises in South Eastern Asia,
Muslim Brotherhood in
In light of global huge developments and rapid variables in the Arab Islamic world, Muslim Brotherhood in
Muslim Brotherhood managed to develop their political experience under hard circumstances; they adopted a long-term policy and decided to move ahead step by step and accumulate experience. They gained large popularity and clear political approval. For example, they admitted the significance and necessity of multi-political system under Islam. In addition, they gave woman the political right to run in elections, vote and get involved in politics, as an activation of her right to command the right and forbid the wrong. They remained on good terms with religious minority in
Therefore, the government has to adopt a policy in containing and taming Muslim Brotherhood. The movement, on the other hand, has to understand the game and its rules and deal positively with it.