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EGYPT: Enough with old leaders, Islamist activist complains

October 26, 2008 |  9:11 am

Mostafa_el_naggar_2_2Would the old guard of Egypt’s largest Islamist group one day cede power to the younger generation? Mostafa El-Naggar, one the leading young voices for reform within the Muslim Brotherhood, recently startled the group's leadership by raising this controversial question on his blog. The suggestion hit a nerve with the brotherhood's higher echelons, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef, who turned 80 this year. 

In a satirical post under the title “We Just Received the Following Communique,”  El-Naggar, a 28-year-old dentist, imagined that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders older than 70 issued a statement announcing their resignation from all senior posts, making way for young cadres to "rejuvenate" the organization.   

“With this initiative, we try to give a good example to the aging Egyptian regime, which still insists to lead the country,” reads the fictional statement.

“Then I woke up after this dream with a smile on my face,” wrote El-Naggar, “imagining what would be the reaction if such an action was made; however, it is beyond doubt that such a change -- if it happened -- would be an extraordinary step.”

El-Naggar is one of a few young Islamist activists voicing harsh criticism of the group’s conservative agenda while calling for democratic principles and a wider voice for its reformers. The brotherhood is credited with strong community work but is often seen as overly pious and politically out of touch, especially regarding its stands on religious freedom, women's rights and tolerance.

Young dissidents have taken to the blogsphere to pressure the leadership of the 80-year-old brotherhood, which is the nation's largest opposition group, controlling about 20% of Parliament.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Mostafa El-Naggar. Credit: El-Naggar

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