The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has announced that Muslim Brotherhood member Tawakkul Karman has won the Nobel Peace Prize, apparently the first Nobel prize awarded to a member of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. According to an Australian media report:
Yemeni activist takes Nobel Prize Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman says her award is a victory for Yemen, after receiving the honour alongside two other women. THIS mother of three may seem an unlikely leader of the fight to overthrow the President of Yemen. But the outspoken journalist and human rights activist has long been a thorn in Ali Abdullah Saleh’s side, agitating for press freedoms and staging weekly sit-ins to demand the release of political prisoners from jail – a place she has been several times herself. Now inspired by the uprising in Tunisia and the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, she finds herself at the head of a popular protest movement which is shaking the Yemeni regime to its core. ”With two civil wars, an al-Qaeda presence and 40 per cent unemployment, what else is President Saleh waiting for? He should leave office now,” she says, claiming that Yemen, like Tunisia and Egypt, needs an end to a dictatorship in the guise of a presidency. ”This revolution is inevitable, the people have endured dictatorship, corruption, poverty and unemployment for years and now the whole thing is exploding,” she says. Karman has many grievances against her government but it was a sheikh’s tyranny against villagers in Ibb, a governorate south of the capital, that ignited her activism. ”I watched as families were thrown off their land by a corrupt tribal leader. They were a symbol to me of the injustice faced by so many in Yemen,” she says. ”It dawned on me that nothing could change this regime, only protest.” While she identifies herself first and foremost as a campaigner for Yemen’s alienated youth, she is also a member of Yemen’s leading Islamic opposition party, the Islah, a group that has caused alarm in the West, mainly because of its most notorious member, Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a former Osama bin Laden adviser considered a terrorist by the US. Karman has a mixed relationship with the Islah. She says it was the best party in Yemen for supporting female members but last October she ran into trouble after publishing a paper condemning ultra-conservative party members for blocking a bill that would make it illegal to marry girls under the age of 17.
Read the rest here.
An Israeli research center has issued has identified the Al-Islah party as the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen:
….the al-Islah (Reform) party, generally described as the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. This party was created in September 1990, bringing together Islamist figures, tribal leaders, and businessmen. From its foundation until late 2007, it was headed by Shaykh Abdallah al-Ahmar, chief of the most prominent tribal confederation (the Hashid, of which Ali Abdallah Salih’s tribe, Sanhan, itself is a member) and speaker of parliament. More than a year after Shaykh Abdallah al-Ahmar’s death on December 29, 2007, the tribal and political consequences are still unclear. The party loosely brings together individuals with different agendas and strategies and has proven its ability to adapt to the changing internal, and international, context. The party has taken part in the democratization process since its inception, competing in free elections and participating in the parliament. While debate over whether the democratic system holds religious legitimacy may exist inside the party, al-Islah overtly accepts the multiparty system and has never supported direct armed confrontation with the government. It collaborates with the regime and could even be considered an integral part of it. In 1994, during the secession war opposing Southern elites to the North, militias supported by al-Islah assisted the government in defeating the socialist-led secessionists. Today, al-Islah is well-implanted in numerous regions of the country (including in the former Marxist South, where anti-socialist reaction is strong and favors Islamist candidates and platforms). Nationally, it won an average of 18 percent of the vote during the 1993, 1997, and 2003 parliamentary elections (though the elections’ lack of transparency reduces the significance of this data).
The Gloria report also discusses Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, one of the most important leaders of Al-Islah and designated by the U.S. as a terrorist:
Aside from its deceased leader Abdallah al-Ahmar and his sons (including Hamid, a successful businessman), the most prominent figures of al-Islah include Yahya Lutfi al-Fusayl, Muhammad Qahtan, Muhammad al-Yadumi (who took over the leadership after the death of al-Ahmar), and Abd al-Majid al-Zindani. Al-Zindani is likely the most famous of all and is said to embody the radical component of al-Islah. This former comrade of Zubayri, heads the al-Iman religious university in San’a and spent many years in Saudi Arabia. In the 1980s, he organized for Yemeni fighters to be sent to Afghanistan and thereby gained stature. In the post-September 11 context, Zindani has frequently been described by the American administration as a close partner of bin Ladin. His historical role has protected him from direct government repression. He plays an ambiguous role, acting both as a mainstream popular figure (his criticism of American foreign policy is commonly accepted by Yemenis) and a marginal one, as he represents a bridge to a type of violent militancy that does not appeal to many.
A previous post discussed Sheikh al-Zindani’s ties to Al Qaeda as well as to the global Muslim Brotherhood.