The Wall Street Journal has published a useful and cautionary analysis regarding the so-called “reform wing” of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The report begins:
CAIRO—Moaz Abdel Karim, an affable 29-year-old who was among a handful of young activists who plotted the recent protests here, is the newest face of the Muslim Brotherhood. His political views on women’s rights, religious freedom and political pluralism mesh with Western democratic values. He is focused on the fight for democracy and human rights in Egypt. A different face of the Brotherhood is that of Mohamed Badi, 66-year-old veterinarian from the Brotherhood’s conservative wing who has been the group’s Supreme Guide since last January. He recently pledged the Brotherhood would “continue to raise the banner of jihad” against the Jews, which he called the group’s “first and foremost enemies.” He has railed against American imperialism, and calls for the establishment of an Islamic state. After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Friday amid the region’s most dramatic grassroots uprising since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Brotherhood became poised to assume a growing role in the country’s political life. The question for many is: Which Brotherhood? The Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Egyptian Islamist opposition group is plagued by rifts between young and old, reformist and hard-liner, and between big city deal-making politicians, and conservative rural preachers. Charles Levinson explains. It was Mr. Karim and his younger, more tolerant cohorts who played a key role organizing the protests that began on Jan. 25 and ultimately unseated a 29-year president. But it’s the more conservative, anti-Western old guard that still make up by far the bulk of the group’s leadership.
Read the rest here.
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.