Thoughts on the Brotherhood’s political program
|Monday, November 12,2007 05:09|
The Muslim Brotherhood is facing one of the most critical periods in its history. A month ago, the Brotherhood issued its political program, the first of its kind since the establishment of the Brotherhood. Copies of the program were sent to a number of political commentators in order to receive their feedback on the program. In general, the program came as a shock to the political commentators and the public in general. Despite the Brotherhood’s allegations that this is just a first draft and that it is open for criticism and revisions, a lot of arguments overwhelmed any positive initiatives taken by the Brotherhood.
Two issues raised a lot of controversy and came as a disappointment, and in some cases a shock, to many people. The first issue was barring women as well as Christians from becoming president. The program stated that the president can not be a woman because the post’s military and religious duties “contradict the her nature, social and other humanitarian roles”. Barring Christians from running to presidency further raised the Christian minority’s fear of the Brotherhood.
The second issue was the establishment of a board of Muslim clerics to oversee government and parliament’s decisions, a form very close to that of the Iranian political system. The board or commission should be elected in national elections “to give consultancy to parliament and presidents”. The commission would have the power to veto government and president decisions despite stating that the parliament could overrule the board except in issues governed by “proven texts” of Islamic Sharia law, providing no definition for what this means. The establishment of the board of clerics meant that the Brotherhood is willing to establish a religious state, governed by religious scholars, argued Abdel Moneim Said, head of Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
Both issues overwhelmed many other issues raised in the program, such as economic policy where the program does not give any specific actions/programs for economic reform. On the contrary, it reminds us of the early sixties as it advocates a heavily interventionist state promoting large national projects, increasing the already exploding state sector. Moreover, the Brotherhood did not say how it will deal with a controversial economic issue, tourism. The program states that the Brotherhood will help Egypt increase tourists arrivals to that of France achieve without really telling us how they would do that which is the case with other economic issues.
The Brotherhood’s decision last week to subside Essam EL Erian, one of the moderate and widely-accepted leaders of the Brotherhood, from re-formulating the program illustrates the dominance of a more hard line trend within the group (which is known for taking a preaching view of politics) over a minority of moderates who seek a civic government which respects Islamic principles. Among the moderates is Khayrat Al Shater, the leading strategist of the group, whose arrest a few months ago constituted a major blow to the moderates and meant that hardliners were able to issue the program the way they wanted. Moreover, the Brotherhood’s youth, a number of whom has more “liberal” views, seem unhappy about what’s going on. “Conservatives are the majority inside the group,” said Abdel Moneim Mohammed, a young Brotherhood activist who criticized the controversial aspects of the platform on his blog.
In conclusion, the program is a major setback for political Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, the thing that further alienates the group from the educated middle class which I can not see the group able to achieve political progress without their support. Then, how could any political group in any country in the world rise to power peacefully without having the support of the educated group who should possess the country’s vital positions? The fact that this is a first draft does not make things any better. At the end, I can only say that the Brotherhood continues to alienate itself from the Egyptian public (Muslims, Christians and women), doing even a better job than its enemies would have been able to do