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Category: Muslim Brotherhood

EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood youth break away to form new political party

The Muslim Brotherhood is struggling with more dissent in its ranks after a group of young members broke away from the Islamist organization's political party to form a secular party that is more inclusive of other cultures and religions.

The new party, known as the Egyptian Current, is a direct challenge to the Brotherhood and follows the expulsion this week of Dr. Abdul Monem aboul Fotouh, a prominent member who defied the organization by running for president.  Fatouh has the support of thousands of young members, many of whom reportedly have had their memberships in the organization frozen. 

“We are convinced that Egypt is currently in need of political parties that rise beyond specific ideologies. The Egyptian mainstream political current should have a real voice in the country’s politics,” Mohammed Abbas told the Los Angeles Times. Abbas said he suspects he and others will also be expelled from the Brotherhood.  

Abbas said the Egyptian Current will be a secular party with Islamic and Arabic roots but will represent Egyptians belonging to different cultural and religious backgrounds: “We need a party which will look after the interests of all Egyptians," he said. Founding members announced that the party will take the slogan of “freedom, building and pioneering.”

Young Brotherhood members have often voiced their dismay at the policies of the Brotherhood's senior members, most notably after leaders of the organization's Justice and Freedom political party were appointed by the group’s politburo rather than being elected by a committee of party members.

Abbas, who represented the Brotherhood at the Jan. 25 Youth Coalition during the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, was also angered by the group's decision to ban its members from taking part in “the second revolution” protests in Tahrir Square in May.

The announcement of the Egyptian Current comes days after the Brotherhood officially axed Fotouh. The group announced that Fotouh violated its regulations by launching a presidential bid despite the Brotherhood’s decision not to field a candidate. The dissension comes as the Brotherhood -- free from the persecution of Mubarak's police state -- has emerged as the country's top political player. It is poised to win as many as 25% of the seats in Parliament in September elections.

But it is increasingly unable to mend the differences between the aspirations of its youth and its conservative Islamic tenets. While members of the Egyptian Current expressed willingness to remain in the Brotherhood, many officials in the organization's guidance bureau demanded their dismissal from the group Wednesday. No decisions were made but Abbas believes that they are likely to be expelled.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Brotherhood leaders during the establishing conference of the Justice and Freedom party on April 30. Credit: Reuters

EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood announces new political party

Muslim After struggling to form a legitimate political party for more than eight decades, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest and best-organized Islamic movement, has officially established its Freedom and Justice party, the group announced Saturday.

"This party will be independent from the Brotherhood but will coordinate with it," Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood’s secretary general, said at a press conference. The Brotherhood said Mohamed Morsy, a member of the group’s politburo, will lead the new party, with prominent Brotherhood figures Essam Erian and Saad Katatni serving as deputy chief and secretary general, respectively.

Morsy quickly moved to allay fears that Freedom and Justice would be dominated by religious ideology and Islamic conservatism: "The party will not be Islamist in the old understanding," he said.

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EGYPT: True or false? Concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood 
Neil Hicks
, international policy advisor for Human Rights First, has provided an assessment of some commonly expressed concerns about the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Hicks, who has followed Egyptian politics for more than two decades, agrees that the Muslim Brotherhood is the largest and most organized opposition group in Egypt and that it would do well if free elections were held for a new parliament in a few months.

But he takes issue with the suggestion that any government in which the Muslim Brotherhood plays a substantial role would inevitably be a threat to U.S. interests and would seek to abolish Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.

“The military appears to be consolidating its already extremely strong influence over Egyptian politics and is likely to hold a de-facto veto power over any government policy, especially in the national security area,” he said in a memorandum Monday. “The military establishment is unlikely to permit actions that would endanger its close cooperative relations with the U.S. military, and its receipt of $1.3 billion of foreign military assistance from U.S. taxpayers.”

Hicks’ full analysis, “The Muslim Brotherhood: True or False,” is available on the Human Rights First website.


Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood mutes its religious message for protests

Muslim Brotherhood joins talks on Egypt crisis; departure of Hosni Mubarak remains sticking point

Full coverage of the uprising in Egypt: News, photos, video and more

-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders, from left,  Essam el-Erian, Saad el-Katatni and Mohamed Morsi, address a news conference Sunday in Cairo.  Credit: Abdel Hamid Eid/Associated Press  Photo

EGYPT: Vice President Omar Suleiman to discuss transition plan Saturday

Egyptvp Egypt's newly appointed vice president plans to meet a group of prominent figures Saturday to discuss a proposed solution to the country's crisis in which he would assume the president's powers for an interim period, a member of the group said.

Diaa Rashwan told Reuters news agency Friday that he and others had been invited to see Vice President Omar Suleiman, an ex-intelligence chief who has the confidence of Washington, to discuss an article of the constitution allowing President Hosni Mubarak to hand powers to his deputy.

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EGYPT: President Hosni Mubarak says chaos, fundamentalist threat would follow his departure


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview with ABC News Thursday that if he were to give in to demands for his resignation the country would descend into chaos and be at risk of Islamic radicals' seizing control.

"I am fed up. After 62 years in public service, I have had enough. I want to go," Mubarak told ABC News' Christiane Amanpour in an interview at the  presidential palace in Cairo. But he said that if he were to leave now, "there would be chaos."

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EGYPT: Prime minister warns police against interfering with Friday protests


As Egyptians braced for another potential flashpoint in their campaign against President Hosni Mubarak, the country's new prime minister told state-run television that he had ordered police to refrain from disrupting a massive demonstration planned Friday.

Anti-Mubarak protesters who have occupied Cairo's central Tahrir Square since Jan. 25 have set Friday, the main Muslim day of prayer, the deadline for Mubarak's resignation. Activists demanding sweeping reform of the long-reigning autocracy have clashed with the president's supporters over the last two days and some fear another bloody confrontation looms after Friday prayers.

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EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood urges protesters to keep up pressure to oust the regime


Egypt's marginalized Islamic political force, the Muslim Brotherhood, on Wednesday urged protesters to keep pressing their demands for democratic change despite violent repression by backers of President Hosni Mubarak.

In a report on the organization's website Ikhwononline, the country's largest organized opposition group called the demonstrations demanding that Mubarak step down the bold actions needed "to activate the wheel of change and to break the barrier of fear in the hearts of the Egyptians."

Citing political experts and analysts, the report said the 9-day-old challenge of Mubarak's rule was incited by decades of state-sponsored repression and economic inequities. The political group urged Egyptians to "stand in one trench against the ruling autocratic regime."

"The Egyptian regime has become an addict in its dependence on the security services and therefore it cannot have a dialogue with the people," the report cited former Assistant Foreign Minister Abdallah al-Ash'al as saying. "In fact, it is seeking to suppress the legitimate grievances of the people. The revolution of the Egyptian people has started and cannot be silenced."

Mubarak promised in a televised speech Tuesday night that he wouldn't seek reelection in the autumn but insisted he would fill out his present term and that he would die in Egypt, deflecting protesters' demands that he leave the country.

-- Carol J. Williams

Photo: Muslim Brotherhood leaders Essam el-Erian, center right, and Saad el-Katatni, center left, take part in a protest in Cairo on Jan. 30. Credit: Mohammed Abu Zaid/AP 


ISRAEL: Egypt backlash, the view from next door

Leaders, media, academics and arm-chair politicians (basically most Israelis) continue to monitor the upheaval rocking its big neighbor, just one door down. If there's a theme de jour, it seems to be "careful what you wish for."

Monday, during a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that while the main cause of unrest doesn't stem from radical Islam, such forces could take over a country in turmoil. The next day he said -- in a closed-door diplomatic-security consultation -- that Israel supports advancing free and democratic values in the Middle East, but warned that neither would be achieved if radical forces are allowed to exploit the processes and take power.

President Shimon Peres also spoke in this vein, advising the world to study the results of the pressure for free elections that brought Hamas rule to Gaza but not a single day of democracy to Gazans since. "Democracy is not just elections because if you elect the wrong people, you bring an end to democracy." True democracy, he said, starts the day after elections, in ensuring the people's human rights and welfare.

These messages are intended for the West, whose pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been successful, whether by design or miscalculation, to the point where results could be out of the comfort zone for Israel and others.

The question is, who needs to do what about it.

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EGYPT: Al Jazeera English video from Tahrir Square


Al Jazeera English reports on the increase in protesters gathering Monday in Tahrir Square, likely leading up to a planned million-man rally Tuesday.

The report says the Internet is still completely inaccessible, and that many cellphone services remain limited, as only local calls can be made from mobile to mobile.

Some reports on Twitter surfaced on Monday afternoon that all mobile phone service had been cut off within the country.

Abdurahman Warsame, with Al Jazeera English, reported on Twitter on Monday afternoon: “Noor was last standing internet provider but it was shut down as well.”

— Lori Kozlowski

ISRAEL: Is the U.S. attitude to Egypt a message?

The U.S. position on Egypt has taken Israel by surprise and left people wondering what the Americans are doing and what this means for other allies in the region, including Israel.

When the administration first urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to address demonstrators' legitimate demands, commentators in Israel were puzzled, almost appalled.  OK, Mubarak's s not perfect, but why would America think his replacement would be any more democratic or pro-Western? Once again, the Americans are looking at the region through Western eyes and clearly, they don't know what they're doing, was the tone of many Israeli analysts. Politicians are not talking much about the crisis.

As the protests continued, some began thinking maybe Obama does know what he's doing — but they're not sure they like it.

"A knife in the back," was how Dan Margalit of the Yisrael Hayom free-sheet described the American treatment of Mubarak. "Obama threw Mubarak to the dogs," wrote Eitan Haber in Yediot Aharonot. Others were more subtle but most share the opinion that the Obama administration is sending its partners in the Middle East a message through Egypt.

Ephraim Halevy, former chief of Mossad and a highly respected former diplomat, said he's having a hard time understanding some of the American moves, reminding that Egypt was a key strategic partner to them too. But, Halevy notes, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said that all strategic alliances are conditional, as in both "temporary" and with actual "conditions." American conditions, at least in principle, are democracy and rights.

But only Mubarak is getting read the riot act, which suggests to Halevy that this isn't a principled move but a practical one, with a specific purpose. The question is, what does Obama think he will get in return.  "Obama is not naive; this is a gamble," Halevy said.

Uzi Rabi, head of Middle East and Africa studies at Tel-Aviv University, notes that this sends a "very negative message." Shaking off Mubarak in rather a cruel way should raise questions in other Arab countries who dwell "under the American umbrella," Rabi said, adding that this might cause leaders to calculate their moves differently as part of the geopolitical change the region is undergoing.

Does this include Israel?

There are many lessons to be had from the events in Egypt events — and Israel needs to learn some of them yesterday, according to Eitan Haber, former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Unlike his predecessors, the current U.S. president has no sentiments for Israel, he writes. Watching him sell Mubarak down the river "in return for popularity with the masses", Israel's lesson should be "that the man in the White House could sell us from one day to the next." The thought that the U.S. might not be there for Israel on D-day is "chilling," he wrote.

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EGYPT: Opaque and messy elections further sour Egyptians on government


As results come in for Egypt’s People’s Assembly elections — surprise, a victory for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) — they enjoy little credibility either inside or outside the country due to the total lack of transparency and the widespread irregularities and violence that characterized the voting and counting processes. In fact, the main opposition groups (the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd) have announced they will boycott the runoff round to protest massive irregularities.

Carnegie logo Extensive restrictions on media coverage and civil society monitoring ensured there would be little transparency on election day. Egyptian authorities prevented live satellite broadcasts from the country and canceled planned television programs by major media outlets, including the BBC.

After rebuffing requests from international organizations to observe the elections by citing an extensive domestic monitoring effort, Egyptian authorities impeded the work of local civil society monitors. Only a small percentage were granted official credentials; of these, most were either denied entry to polling and counting stations or evicted after they entered.

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EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood to boycott parliamentary elections runoff


After its accusations of government fraud and vote buying during Sunday's first round of the parliamentary elections, Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has decided not to take part in this weekend's runoff poll.

The decision comes one day after the Higher Elections Committee announced the first round's official results in which the Islamist group failed to win a single seat, but still had 27 candidates to compete in the runoff.

"The violations, terror and hooliganism we were subjected to at the hands of security forces and NDP [National Democratic Party] thugs before and during elections, all of which were reported by civil and media organizations, as well as the forged results, made us reconsider taking part in the runoff," Mohamed Badee, the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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