Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Brotherhood Revolution!

By Tariq Alhomayed
This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 02/03/2011

Here I do not seek to imply that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind Egypt's revolution against the former regime, but rather I am alluding to news that young members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood intend to carry out a revolution within the organization itself. This is a remarkable development, for several reasons.
Firstly, the mere fact that Muslim Brotherhood youths are planning to gather nearly thirty thousand members to organize a revolution within their own movement, and against its old faces, confirms that there are now many disgruntled members within an aged organization. An exclusive clique still dominates decision making within the Brotherhood, at a time when the organization lobbies the Egyptian regime, and the Arab states, for greater pluralism and openness, along with other demands. Of course, this internal youth revolution within the Brotherhood is not a mere repeat of the January 25th revolution, for the Brotherhood youth have called for a revolt against the movement's internal structure in the past. However, it was clear that the group's clandestine activities, and animosity towards the former Egyptian regime, helped to form cohesion within the Brotherhood, for it is well known that the enemy unites under such conditions. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood was able to withstand its aggrieved younger members during those years, because the former Egyptian regime was threatening the movement as a whole. However, the situation is different today.
The second interesting aspect of this development was the interview with the young engineer Kamal Samir Farag, general coordinator of the "Muslim Brotherhood Youth Revolution", in the newspaper "al masry al youm". In the interview, he said that "we have a crisis regarding the internal elections of the Muslim Brotherhood, in that there is no room to run as a candidate. The group views its leadership as (untouchable) elders, and the idea of competition is not acceptable. The group uses a candidate list at times when it wants, and this is then absent when it doesn’t want to use it". Yet Farag went even further in the interview, when he said that "Egypt post January 25th is different to how it was prior to this date, and this goes for the Muslim Brotherhood as well. In the past, the group could have issued a decision to dismiss someone, citing any reason, but nowadays the situation is different, and we will not allow anyone to force us out of the group".
What Kamal Samir Farag said, regarding the situation of the Muslim Brotherhood before January 25th, is very similar to how the Brotherhood criticized the former regime of Hosni Mubarak - there was no room to stand for election, the regime did not accept the idea of competition, it used candidate lists when they were convenient, and abolished them when they would not be beneficial, not to mention the dismissal of individuals without anyone daring to challenge the decision! It seems – as one of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has told me – that the impact of the former Egyptian regime over the past thirty years has resulted in an opposition that has come to resemble it in many ways, as evidenced by the criticism which the Brotherhood youth direct towards the organization today.
Thus, perhaps the "Muslim Brotherhood Youth Revolution", demanding change within the organization itself, will be a call for those who defend the organization, and attack us for criticizing it, to reconsider their position, or reinterpret the reality of the Brotherhood. All that glitters is not gold, as they say! This matter of course is not limited to the Muslim Brotherhood alone, as one of my colleagues said: "Who knows? We may also see a revolution from Hezbollah's youth", however it seems that this revolution would be subject to the success of the Green Revolution in Iran!

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