Egyptian Constitutional Panel Features Muslim Brotherhood Leader


Global media are reporting that a panel of experts appointed by Egypt’s new military government to revise the country’s constitution includes a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood. According a New York Times report, the inclusion of Brotherhood leader Sobhi Saleh was the biggest surprise concerning the panel:

The military officers governing Egypt on Tuesday convened a panel of jurists, including an outspoken Muslim Brotherhood politician, to revise the country’s Constitution in the first tangible evidence of a commitment to move the country toward democracy after President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. In an incongruous scene — unimaginable just one month ago — Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the defense minister acting as chief of state, appointed a panel of eight experts led by a retired judge known as a leading critic of the Mubarak government. Though the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which seized power with Mr. Mubarak’s exit, has repeatedly pledged to uphold the goals of the Egyptian revolution, many in the opposition have questioned the army’s willingness to submit for the first time to a civilian democracy after six decades of military-backed strongmen. On Tuesday, however, several opposition figures said they felt heartened…..The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Sobhi Saleh, an Alexandria appeals lawyer and former member of Parliament who is a prominent figure of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Mubarak government repeatedly portrayed Mr. Saleh as extremist. Mr. Saleh has espoused some views many here might consider excessive, like advocating a ban on public kissing in most places, and he was released from an Egyptian intelligence prison recently. “I am very happy because Tantawi told us to try to finish as soon as we can,” Mr. Saleh said in an interview. “He said, ‘We want to hand over the power because we are military people and we have no political aspirations.’ ” His colleagues on the panel called Mr. Saleh an impartial jurist. “Sobhi Saleh is a real legal expert,” said Hassan el-Badrawi, a judge on the panel. “This is proof we are not excluding anybody.” The chief of the panel is Tareq el-Bishri, a retired senior judge, prominent intellectual and author of a book-length critique of the Mubarak government titled “Egypt: Between Disobedience and Decay.” Mr. Bishri leaned left in his youth and later gravitated toward a moderate brand of Islamism, making him a bridge figure between the two wings of the Egyptian opposition. And he later became a legal adviser to a major opposition movement, Kefaya, or Enough. As a jurist, Mr. Bishri is specifically known for his opposition to prosecutions outside civilian courts as well as for his arguments of a balance of power between government institutions — ideas alien to Mubarak government

A recent Wall Street Journal report cites Sohbi Saleh, the former Assistant Secretary General of the MB parliamentary bloc, as one of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders seeking to reassure the West about any future role of the Muslim Brotherhood by citing the “Turkish example.”

The West looks at us like the Shia regime in Iran, but we aren’t. We’re much closer to the Turkish example,” said Sobhi Saleh, a prominent Brotherhood member and Egyptian senator. He said the group has no ambition to rule on its own, saying Egypt is too large and complex.

However even if Saleh is taken at his word regarding the Turkish example, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has recently published a new report titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla.” The report abstract states:

There is strong evidence for Turkish governmental involvement in the Gaza flotilla incident, with Turkish government support channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The IHH was not acting alone but rather was an integral part of a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network.

With respect to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, report’s second conclusion states:

The Gaza flotilla incident brought into sharp focus an even more significant long- term development: the growing relationship between the Erdogan government and the Global Muslim Brotherhood, which has given rise to some of the most notorious Islamist terrorist groups – from al-Qaeda to Hamas. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood, while the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip acted as the main axis for this activity

Read the rest here.

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