Although the Western media has consistently minimized the role the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has played in the current crisis, the New York Times has reported further details suggesting that the Brotherhood played a more important role than was previously known. The report begins:
They were born roughly around the time that President Hosni Mubarak first came to power, most earned degrees from their country’s top universities and all have spent their adult lives bridling at the restrictions of the Egyptian police state — some undergoing repeated arrests and torture for the cause. They are the young professionals, mostly doctors and lawyers, who touched off and then guided the revolt shaking Egypt, members of the Facebook generation who have remained mostly faceless — very deliberately so, given the threat of arrest or abduction by the secret police. Now, however, as the Egyptian government has sought to splinter their movement by claiming that officials were negotiating with some of its leaders, they have stepped forward publicly for the first time to describe their hidden role. There were only about 15 of them, including Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who was detained for 12 days but emerged this week as the movement’s most potent spokesman. Yet they brought a sophistication and professionalism to their cause — exploiting the anonymity of the Internet to elude the secret police, planting false rumors to fool police spies, staging “field tests” in Cairo slums before laying out their battle plans, then planning a weekly protest schedule to save their firepower — that helps explain the surprising resilience of the uprising they began. In the process many have formed some unusual bonds that reflect the singularly nonideological character of the Egyptian youth revolt, which encompasses liberals, socialists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. “I like the Brotherhood most, and they like me,” said Sally Moore, a 32-year-old psychiatrist, a Coptic Christian and an avowed leftist and feminist of mixed Irish-Egyptian roots. “They always have a hidden agenda, we know, and you never know when power comes how they will behave. But they are very good with organizing, they are calling for a civil state just like everyone else, so let them have a political party just like everyone else — they will not win more than 10 percent, I think.” Many in the circle, in fact, met during their university days. Islam Lotfi, a lawyer who is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, said his group used to enlist others from the tiny leftist parties to stand with them in calling for civil liberties, to make their cause seem more universal. Many are now allies in the revolt, including Zyad el-Elaimy, a 30-year-old lawyer who was then the leader of a communist group.
The report goes on to say that members of the group further recruited the help of a profession union heavily dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood:
By the time they occupied Tahrir Square, she and her friends had enlisted the Arab Doctors Union — many of whose members are also members of the Muslim Brotherhood — which set up a network of seven clinics.
Finally while the report says that entire group, Muslim Brotherhood members included, says they “aspire to a Western-style constitutional democracy where civic institutions are stronger than individuals”, it is not at all clear, and much evidence to the contrary, that this view is not held by either the leaders or rank-sand-file of the Brotherhood.
Previous posts discussed reports that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood played a critical role “on the ground” during the demonstrations and that the Brotherhood provided reinforcements in the battle against Mubarak forces at Tahir Square.
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