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Views of Intellectuals, Politicians Over Muslim Brotherhood Party Program
The declaration of Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) chairman, that the group plans for presenting a program of a political party, was considered a rebirth of the MB that was founded in 1928 by imam Hassan Al Banna . Apart from the MB plans and whether it is presenting this program for founding a
Tuesday, March 13,2007 00:00
by Al Saeed Ramadan, Ikhwanweb

The declaration of Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) chairman, that the group plans for presenting a program of a political party, was considered a rebirth of the MB that was founded in 1928 by imam Hassan Al Banna .

Apart from the MB plans and whether it is presenting this program for founding a political party or it is just presenting a program to the society, but this stirs a debate over the MB’s attitudes towards various issues, specially the group’s attitude towards issues of citizenship, violence civil/Islamic state and other issues and fears that haunt intellectuals when they discuss the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is worth mentioning that the Muslim Brotherhood presented, in March 2004, the so called "the Muslim Brotherhood initiative around principles of reform in Egypt" which was criticized by some critics who said that it was presenting generalized points without detailing solutions for various problems and issues that Egypt is witnessing.

Ikhwanweb contacted some Muslim and Coptic intellectuals and politicians to know the real fears towards the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the key points that need a priority in the MB political program.

The Copts: OK to MB Party, Focus On Citizenship Rights

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In the beginning, the Coptic intellectual Rafik Habib says

- I think that thinking of founding a party is the A B C of beginning a political action; there are some issues that tarnish the general political atmosphere and may trigger fears of the Copts; a priority should be given to the issues of citizenship, equality between the highest authority (Imama Kubra) and the president, the role of religion in the political life, the separation between a civil state and a religious state, the guarantees that prevent turning a civil country into a religious country, how the political program shall distinguish between the MB Da’wa (preaching) message and the political action and reflect the political action; also there should be a discrimination between ethics and politics in the Muslim Brotherhood, and how to distinguish between the universality or locality of a certain idea; there should also a detailed explanation about the idea that Islam is a universal religion which directed to all people of the world and a missionary religion; the Muslim Brotherhood played many roles in this issue; does the political party has any role in this regard.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s literature (previous writings) are greatly lacking writings about the jobs and roles of the religious institutions; what are these jobs and can they turn into a religious country; we need also a full economic view for solving Egyptian economic crisis.

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As for the Coptic intellectual, Sameh Fawzi, he said that
: there are several points that the Muslim Brotherhood should focus on in its political program.

- The First Point: - The Muslim Brotherhood is not only an Egyptian organization; it is an international organization; so there should be a disengagement between the local and the international and to specify the domain in which the group is politically acting; is the party is a wing of the international organization or it is independent; we are speaking about the political independence of the group as a whole.

*The Second Point: The concept of a civil country and its relation to a religious source of authority; does the Muslim Brotherhood accept that the public life turns into a civil arena so that the political life shan’t be besieged. The public arena is open for all: does the Muslim Brotherhood accept to remove religious emblems; is the civil state a state which is not ruled by clerics.

* The Third Point: - There should be economic and social programs; these programs can’t be traced in the Muslim Brotherhood’s writings; what will be the kind of economy to be adopted (capitalist economy - socialist economy) and how will the Muslim Brotherhood merge into the international economy; how about the state limits regarding the the economic activity. There should be a social economic basis for this party.

*The Fourth Point: - I am not satisfied with the way in which the MB chairman declare the attitude towards the Copts; he said (There is no problem that the Copts join the party); I wished the declaration had been (we are keen on seeing Copts joining the party).

* The Fifth Point:- Can the group separate between the Da’wa (preaching) and politics like the Jordanian experience; on what basis will the group exercise politics.

 Artists: Any Group Should Be Allowed to Form Political Party Without Asking Government Permission

*Khaled Al Sawi (leftist actor) says :

·I urge every group of people that adopt a certain a social or political project to form a party whether this party was expressing an ultra-right, ultra-left, Muslim Brotherhood, Nasserism or Communism. As long as this group hasn’t expressed itself in a military method, it has the right to express itself within framework of a political party and without any permission from the regime or government.

Al Sawi confirmed that establishing a party on a religious or even vocational basis "will not scare us", because any party needs supporters from the public opinion which will have the final word, weather to approve or disapprove it according to people’s interests; there is another condition: the party should accept a principle that rules all of us, accepting the other and not to attempt to destroy or alienate that ’other’; and that the other’s viewpoint must be respected.

Al Sawi pointed out that the intellectuals’ prime concern is that they fear that when the MB assumes power, it may seek to alienate the other.

Al Sawi demanded the Muslim Brotherhood to be open-minded; the MB was enticed to some issues like the issue of the veil and other several issues; the MB did not launch a campaign fight consumer-related crises that caused economic collapse that harmed the Egyptian people; the MB should focus on main issues and not to be enticed to minor issues.




For his part, Sameh Al Sereiti (an actor) said:

The main point is not in the Muslim Brotherhood itself; the main point is that it isn’t acceptable to allow a religious party to rule; I am against the rule of a religious party, but we should have a Muslim ruler who rules people according to what satisfies Allah; we shouldn’t sow seeds of sedition.

Al Sereiti pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is against classifying citizens on a religious basis, but that the Islamic Sharia should be the source of legislation according to the constitution and this doesn’t infringe on the rights of our Coptic brothers; there are many Christians who are keen to keep the Islamic Sharia as the main source of legislation because this is of public benefit to themselves.

Al Sereiti added that:" As for art and creativity, there is a difference between the current "obscene" art and the instructional art which is a creative value that adds to the human principles; I know the MB’s viewpoint towards art; its viewpoint is miles away from other groups because the MB believes strongly in literature, poetry and arts; what ’s of paramount importance is how express them in a way which is consistent with the religion and public morals of the society because it is our culture and we must defend it.

Al Sereiti confirmed there must be a focus on the idea of citizenship as a basis. "I am against any Muslim who corrupted our political, economic and health lives, and I think a national Christian is better than him" he adds .

*Political Experts: The Muslim Brotherhood Should Keep Away From the Generalized Discourse and to Settle the Economic File

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Concerning views of the political experts, Dr. Amr Al Shobaki, a political researcher at Al-Ahram Center for political and strategic studies, says
: -

There is should be a a settlement for the issues of citizenship, the highest authority (Imama Kubra), and illustrate the relation between the concept of a president and the concept of the highest authority (Imama Kubra) tackled in the Islamic political systems; also, secular and Coptic leaders should be given guarantees because the general atmosphere is full of tensions and the relation between the Muslims and the Copts witnessed a considerable tension; this is not due to the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is a fear among Copts towards Islamists; the Copts problem towards the Muslim Brotherhood is the sensitivity towards the Islamic project; this requires huge and long-term efforts to heal them; the current regime is responsible for the these tensions.

Al Shobaki added also that the Muslim Brotherhood should exert greater effort in the terms used in its foreign discourse and foreign relations; it should give the national liberation an Islamic hue and not to deal with Western countries with the discourse and logic of the 1960s.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Shobaki adds, should be aware that the current discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood is more of a privacy and isolationism and self-building; however, this discourse should be developed to deal with the world.

Al Shobaki advised the Muslim Brotherhood to realize that the age we are living is not an age of ideologies; because this is an age in which all major ideologies have gone, and the Muslim Brotherhood has an Islamic ideology which is based on the teachings of religion; we do not and we can’t oppose religion, but when this ideology is applied on the ground, it is applied by human beings have their own political views and they may err and they should be held accountable for according to principles of democracy.

The Muslim Brotherhood should also keep away from generalized Islamic slogans ( like Islam is the solution). Priority should be given to the down to earth problems; the Muslim Brotherhood should lay down an economic recipe. I think that the MB is closer to capitalism, taking into consideration the principle of social justice; also, we want the MB to adopt economic approaches (like democratic socialism or the so called ’third way’); the MB should realize that relying on the idea of a comprehensive group will not survive of its own.

*For her part, journalist and ex-board member in the Press Syndicate, Omnia Shafik said: -

I do not object to establishing a religious party that has a religious source of authority, but this party must accept that the country is a civil one. It should also approve the principle of citizenship, and to have a clear economic political program without a religious slogan. There should be also a circulation of power and periodic elections; it should have a clear attitude towards women, penalties and the Copts.

*As for Mr. Abdul Ghaffar Shukr (a leader in Tagammu’ Party), he said: -

I am one of those who demanded the Muslim Brotherhood to establish a civil party that separates between politics and Da’wa (preaching) work, and to be a good development in the political life; the Muslim Brotherhood’s program should concentrate on approving a peaceful transfer of power, confirming that the country is civil, political and peaceful transfer of power, the attitude towards women, citizenship, equality among citizens; we confirm that there is no objection on the Islamic source of authority, because it derives a moral value.

* Dr. Atef Al Banna (University law professor) says: -

The parties law bans establishing parties on a religious basis; but this does not ban establishing a party that has an Islamic source of authority, specially that the constitution confirms that Islam is the main source for legislation; the suggested constitutional amendment aims at curbing this outlet; this was also amended in the parties law of the year 2005.

Al Banna pointed out that the phrase " with an Islamic source of authority" stirs more political than legal fears. The text of the parties law bans using religious slogans, like " Islam is the solution "; this is strange because there should be no texts that fight our Islamic identity.

Al Banna added that:" I support founding an Islamic-oriented party based on the texts of the constitution, like the second article; it is needless to say "with an Islamic source of authority" but we can say " based on the second article of the Egyptian constitution" and to lay down a program in economy and politics and it may state the freedom of belief.

* Dr. Abdul Wahab Al Meseiri (a great Egyptian writer an intellectual and leader of Kefaya movement) says:

The Muslim Brotherhood program should certainly focus on the social justice and human values; this should be the main starting point in the program; the gap between classes should be fought; there should be also an organization for many issues like taxes and Zakat; the spirit of the nation should be revived, instead of stoking a class conflict; there should be also a focus on fighting consumerism. It is noticed that the Islamists fight pornography and ignore important issues like the issue of consumerism that leads to a class disparity; corruption should be fought and citizenship should be give a priority.

Al Meseiri added that:" I think that the fears from the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood are groundless; but there regulations should be drafted to ban that any party attempts to prevent others from exercising the political action; I think that the fears from the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood are due to the MB’s high public rating, because the MB is the only party that managed to have, on the ground, a high public rating and to have a huge grassroots support.



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