Egyptian Brotherhood Not Divided, Brotherhood and Analyst Agree


A number of U.S. analysts have suggested that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has both a “conservative” camp and a “reformist” camp and that it is important to support the so-called reformist wing. This view of the Egyptian Brotherood was espoused further following recent internal ections within the Egyptian Brotherhood. However according to a recent report, both the movement itself and an Egyptian analyst deny such a split. According to a member of the group’s Guidance Bureau:

“There are no competing factions within the Muslim Brotherhood,” Saad al-Husseini, Brotherhood MP and a newly-elected Guidance Bureau member, told IPS. “We all share the single goal of reforming society. “The election results did not represent a victory for one faction over another, and no one was excluded,” al-Husseini added. “This is just government propaganda.”

This denial is supported by an Egyptian analyst:

“As in any political movement, there will be differences of opinion,” Diaa Rashwan, analyst at the semi-official al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, and expert on Islamist movements told IPS. “But it’s an exaggeration to say there’s an ideological rift within the group.”…Rashwan agreed that press reports of divisions within the group’s ranks had been exaggerated. “There may be differences of opinion within the group’s leadership, but it’s an exaggeration to talk about conservative versus reformist trends,” he said. “The local press exaggerated the issue by saying there was a major rift within the movement.” According to Rashwan, the chief “difference of opinion” within the group’s leadership revolves around the person of the president of the country. “The Brotherhood maintains that non-Muslims and women can never serve as head of state, in accordance with Islamic law,” he explained. “But some within the group will not even discuss the subject, while others say it’s permissible to debate the issue with the sole aim of convincing others.”But except for this one issue, there are no real divisions within the movement,” added Rashwan. “In terms of democracy and political participation, there are no ideological disputes, and the group remains unanimous in terms of general strategy.” Rashwan went on to note that, historically, the Muslim Brotherhood has been uniquely resistant to internal splits within its ranks. “Of all the political movements in Egypt, the Brotherhood has been the most able to contain internal squabbling,” he said. “For most of its history, the group has successfully avoided internecine division — this can be seen by the government’s failure until now to infiltrate the group and sabotage it from within.”

If the Egyptian Brotherhood is as united as these statements assert, it would seem that policies based on encouraging a non-existent “reformist” wing are doomed to failure.

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