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