U.S. Professor Holds Extensive Discussion With Muslim Brotherhood In Egypt


In an article also carried on the official Muslim Brotherhood website, the blog of Professor Marc Lynch reports that he has returned from Egypt where he participated in an extensive sets of discussions with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood including Supreme Guide Mohammed Mehdi Akef:

I”m just back to the US, and now I can say a bit more about where I was and what I was doing. Some readers might recall that last month I published an essay in Foreign Policy magazine, “How to Talk to America“, cast as a memo to the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Mehdi Akef. So last week I flew to Cairo, where I spent four intense days of meetings and discussions with more than 25 people. I got to talk with most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood which isn”t currently in prison, about a dozen Muslim Brotherhood bloggers and activists, a number of Egyptian analysts with keen insight into the Brotherhood such as Diya Rashwan and Khalil el-Anani, and of course the usual journalist suspects (i.e. my friends).

Dr. Lynch states that his visit had the following objectives:

First, to actually begin to talk to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood about the possibilities of dialogue with America – not, I must stress, as any kind of channel but simply to explore their responses to my memo and their thoughts about the future of the organization”s relations with the United States. Most of the leaders had read the memo, and came into the meetings with some detailed criticisms and complaints – I was impressed that Akef made the effort to thank me for the “good advice” in English (though other than that all the conversations were in Arabic)…Second, I wanted to explore the controversial political party platform which the Brotherhood circulated to about 50 Egyptian intellectuals last month, which aroused quite a public controversy because of the presence of several inflammatory new ideas such as a “Higher Ulema Council” and a rejection of a Christian or woman president…Finally, I wanted to follow up on an article I wrote about Muslim Brotherhood bloggers earlier this year, to learn more about this new generation of Brotherhood bloggers and activists.

Dr. Lynch gives a preliminary summary of the results of his meetings but says that he will be publishing a full analysis on his blog in the near future.

Both the Foreign Policy essay and postings on Dr. Lynch’s blog reveal him to be sympathetic toward the Brotherhood, a position that is consistent with State Department policy in recent months. This raises the question of whether or not Dr Lynch’s trip was in someway endorsed by the State Department although Lynch appears to disavow such a link in his comment above denying that he was acting as a “channel.” Dr. Lynch is an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and George Washington University and writes frequently about the Arab media and Arab public opinion.

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