Egypt Brotherhood faces renewed calls for 'change'

Brotherhood figure Islam Akl acknowldeged that "change is a must" within the Brotherhood, which continues to refuse to acknowledge Egypt's military-backed "putchist" regime.

Egypt Brotherhood faces renewed calls for 'change'

World Bulletin / News Desk

A number of Muslim Brotherhood figures have recently expressed the need for an internal reassessment of the embattled Islamist group, one year after the ouster of elected president and group leader Mohamed Morsi.

In a letter confirmed by his family to have been smuggled out of prison, Brotherhood leader and former Education Ministry spokesman Mohamed al-Sorougi called this week for the dissolution of the Brotherhood's internal legislative body – the Shura Council – within one month.

Al-Sorougi, who was detained on violence-related charges in the wake of Morsi's military ouster last July, called on the group's leadership not to postpone the move because of the crippling security crackdown on the group launched by the military-backed government in the wake of Morsi's ouster.

Islam Akl, the Brotherhood figure who posted al-Sorougi's message on his Facebook page, also said that "change is a must" within the Brotherhood, which continues to refuse to acknowledge Egypt's military-backed "putchist" regime.

Scholar Ateya Fayad, a leading member of the decades-old group's proselytizing body, renewed his calls to the group to separate preaching from politics.

"What if Islamist movements abandoned the thought of direct competition for power and instead focused on developing society morally and intellectually?" Fayad said in a statement on Facebook earlier this week, which he removed shortly afterward.

"There is no problem with having Islamist parties that have no relation with proselytizing activities, so that Islam would not be affected if the party fails," he said.

Since Morsi's ouster and imprisonment by the military, a massive security crackdown by the military-backed government has left hundreds of Brotherhood supporters dead and most of the group's upper echelons – along with thousands of other supporters – behind bars.

Last December, the army-backed government designated the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization," blaming it for a string of deadly attacks on security forces.

The Brotherhood has repeatedly rejected the accusations and condemned the attacks. Many observers saw the government's move as preventing any possible future reconciliation with the group.

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief widely seen as the key orchestrator of Morsi's ouster, said during his electoral campaign that the Brotherhood would have "no existence" under his tenure. He was subsequently declared the winner of a May presidential poll.

Morsi's supporters, for their part, continue to stage limited protests in several parts of Egypt to protest his ouster, which they describe as a military coup. Security forces routinely fire on pro-Morsi protests and arrest demonstrators during protest dispersals.

"The Brotherhood's thought and leadership in Egypt are both undergoing change," Ibrahim Munir, secretary-general of the international Muslim Brotherhood organization, told Anadolu Agency. "But security conditions prevent us from speaking about these changes."

"With more than 21,000 Brotherhood members detained, we had to rework our organizational arrangements in Egypt," Munir, who is based in London, told AA by phone.

In September of last year, Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein dismissed a statement issued by now-imprisoned Brotherhood leader Salah Soltan in which the latter apologized to the Egyptian people for political "errors" committed by the Islamist group – which swept elections following the 2011 ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Hussein distanced the group from Soltan's assertions – which came some two months after Morsi's ouster on the back of massive protests against his rule – saying the group should focus on resisting the "military coup" instead of re-evaluating its own performance.

Hussein repeated his criticism of calls for reform within the Brotherhood's rank and file, claiming that such demands were often based on "incorrect, premature conclusions." He stressed that the Brotherhood adopts "balanced" criteria when it comes to appointing its leadership and decision-making.

"Some of those who are asking us out of good will to revise ourselves mean we should revise our stance on Egypt's military coup – and that will not happen," Munir asserted.

He added: "Other than that, the group is in a continuous process of improving ways to communicate with the people and is always trying not to isolate itself."

"However," he said, "under current security restrictions that include identity-based killing, the group cannot promote any of these continuous improvements it applies."

Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2014, 09:49
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