Bahraini Muslim Brotherhood Split Following Electoral Defeats


Gulf media is reporting on “serious differences” that have arisen within the Muslim Brotherhood of Bahrain following its defeats in the recent elections. According to a report in the Gulf News:

Serious differences in Bahrain’s Islamic Menbar are now coming to the fore after the society affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood suffered a crushing defeat in parliamentary and municipal elections last month. The string of losses in two rounds of elections on October 23 and 30 has cut the presence of lawmakers representing the society in parliament’s lower chamber from seven during its previous term to just two after the recent ballot. Biggest shock The devastating defeat was compounded when Abdul Latif Al Shaikh, the chairman of the society and the leader of its parliamentary bloc in the outgoing house, was not re-elected. “The society has now turned on its members. There have been too many inappropriate attitudes by the leaders of Al Menbar,” Mohammad Khalid, a former MP who represented the society in the last two terms said. “We have often blamed other societies for their non-Islamic attitudes, but we have ourselves made the same mistakes that are far away from the true spirit of Islam. That is why I have handed in my resignation.” According to Khalid, who did not contest elections this year, several members of the society are also upset with the results and are planning to hand in their resignations. “It is obvious that the society needs a deep review of its performance.” However, the society chairman has denied claims that members had resigned or planned to do so. “These are critical times, but Al Menbar is robust and its members are supporting one another and working together,” Al Shaikh said on Wednesday. “Competent groups are assessing the elections and the performance of the society within a spirit of transparency and openness.” However, for Khalid, the resignation is final. According to the former MP, Islamic Menbar lost in the elections after it failed to strike a deal with Al Asala, the expression of Salafism in Bahrain, a tactic that presented the two Islamist societies a total of 15 MPs in the 40-seat lower chamber in 2006. “Another reason is that the two societies engaged in a ridiculous war of words that caused their downfall,” he said.

Earlier posts reported on the Bahraini Muslim Brotherhood electoral defeats in which Menbar had expected to win eight seats.

A September UK media report on a campaign the the Muslim Brotherhood in Bahrain to ban alcohol in that country provides more information about Menbar:

The problem for absolute monarchies is that they do not create conditions in which civil society is able to flourish. In 2002, the results of the first parliamentary elections in Bahrain were ominous for secular politicians: the elected lower house was immediately dominated by Islamist parties and not a single woman candidate was elected. The same thing happened in 2006, when the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society took almost half of the 40 seats, although on that occasion one woman was successful. Among the most influential politicians in Bahrain is Dr Salah Ali, a former political exile who now chairs the Al-Menbar Islamic Society, a Sunni group which has seven seats in the lower house and is widely believed to have close links with the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr Ali is a smart politician who talks fluently about the importance of developing Bahrain’s democratic experiment “step by step”, and his party is expected to endorse female candidates in the elections due to take place this autumn. But to outsiders there are more intimations of the influence of political Islam in Bahrain than the government might like to admit. An MP from one of the Islamist parties flinched and refused to shake my hand, and there has been a ferocious campaign by Islamists in the lower house to ban alcohol in Bahrain. A leading light in the campaign is Mohammed Khalid, an outspoken MP from the Al-Menbar Society, who has made a name for himself as an opponent of anything he regards as un-Islamic. Mr Khalid embarrassed the government when he hailed terrorists fighting American forces in Iraq as “heroes”.

Previous posts have discussed the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American statements of Dr. Salah Soltan, a former US Muslim Brotherhood leader now residing in Bahrain.

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