Egyptian media is reporting that the “international wing” of the Muslim Brotherhood is advising the Egyptian Brotherhood to withdraw from next week’s parliamentary elections. According to a report in Al Masry Al-Youm:
The international wing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement has urged its Egyptian counterparts to withdraw from next weeks’ parliamentary elections due to an ongoing crackdown on the group’s parliamentary candidates by Egyptian security forces. “I advise them to withdraw from the contest,” said MB representative in Europe Ibrahim Mounir, who stressed that his opinion was merely a recommendation. Mounir went on to predict that Egypt’s parliament would be dissolved next year on grounds of “unconstitutional” election procedures. “So there’s little point in fielding candidates,” he said.
Mr. Mounir was charged by Egyptian prosecutors last April, along with a group of other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, with offenses involving money laundering and raising funds abroad for the Muslim Brotherhood .
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website refers to Mr. Munir as an Executive Bureau member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization while an Egyptian news report identifies him as the Secretary-General of the International Organization and one of its founders in 1982 as well as a spokesman for the Brotherhood in London. The latter Arabic language news report also provides some biographical detail on Mr. Munir who it says was sentenced to life imprisonment in in Egypt in the 1950’s in connection with the events following the attempt assassination of then Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Following his early release in 1975, the report says Mr. Munir traveled and worked in the Gulf States on behalf of the Brotherhood following which he applied for and was granted political asylum in the UK. Mr. Munir is also known to be the general supervisor of the London-based Muslim Brotherhood publication known as the ‘Risalat Al-Ikhwan’ (Muslim Brotherhood Message).
The International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood (IMB) can be considered to be the international leadership of the global Muslim Brotherhood most closely tied to the Egyptian organization. In 2004, a London-based Arabic newspaper identified further members of the International Organization:
The international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is an assembly of all national Brotherhood organizations, but its higher leadership is in the hands of the Egyptian organization represented in the guide and the Guidance Bureau. There are other leaders that help run the international organization, such as the Syrian Hasan Huwaydi, who is considered the third deputy of the guide, in addition to Faisal Mawlawi, leader of the Lebanese Brotherhood, Abd-Majid-Dhunaybat, controller-general of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and the Tunisian Rashid al-Ghannushi. The London-based Egyptian, Ibrahim Munir, takes care of coordination among the organization’s members in Europe. The leaders of the international organization have held their meetings with Egypt’s Brotherhood leaders in several European countries, as it is impossible to organize such meetings in Egypt, where the group is banned and targeted by security authorities.
It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood today has become a global network and that the Egyptian mother branch is not necessarily the most important part of the movement. Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, is often referred to by the GMBDW as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide stating only that
..he had consciously decided not to limit his scope of manoeuvre by tying himself ‘any movement which might constrain my actions, even if this is the Muslim Brotherhood under whose umbrella I grew and which I so defended…Would I, at the age of 77, accept what I turned down when I was 49?’
Since some of the leaders of the IMB are also closely tied to Qaradawi, Faisal Mawlawi for example, there may be overlap between the leadership structures of the IMB and Global Muslim Brotherhood but further research is need to clarify these relationships. A previous post details what is currently known about the IMB.