Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Returns To Parliament In “Symbolic Comeback”

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Global media are reporting that the the Muslim Brotherhood Brotherhood in Jordan has returned to the country’s parliament. According to a New York Times report, the result is a “symbolic comeback” for the group:

September 22, 2016 Amman, Jordan — Members of the political arm of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood won seats in Jordan’s Parliament in a symbolic comeback, and women increased their numbers in the legislature, according to results of parliamentary elections released on Thursday.

Although most of the 130 seats in the lower house of Parliament were retained by pro-monarchy loyalists, the Islamic Action Front, the Brotherhood’s political arm, and other Islamists not affiliated with the Brotherhood won a total of 16 seats.

The Brotherhood had boycotted the last two elections to protest what it said were unfair practices in the electoral system that favored pro-government candidates. Jordan had stripped the Brotherhood of its official registration this year, but the Islamic Action Front remained registered and legal. The group decided to field candidates this time after the government adopted changes that encouraged the participation of political parties and opposition groups.

Jordan’s lower house of Parliament has limited political power or influence over the government’s policies. King Abdullah II appoints the prime minister, cabinet members and members of the upper house of Parliament.

The lower house, however, will seat 20 women, a record for Jordan. According to a quota system, 15 seats were reserved for women, but five other women won competitive races outside the quota system, according to the official results.

‘It is an achievement, but some women organizations would argue that it is not at the level they had hoped for or expected,’ said Jihad Momani, a spokesman for the Independent Elections Committee.

Jordan is struggling to handle hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in Syria and Iraq. The United States is providing $1.6 billion this year to help Jordan cope with the crisis, making it one of the top recipients of American foreign aid.

The New York Times had reported earlier that the Islamic Action Front had decided to play down the role of religion in the party’s platform:

September 20, 2016 AMMAN, Jordan — At the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Abu al-Sukkar’s telephone would not stop ringing Tuesday. It was Election Day, the first time the Islamist organization had taken part after nearly a decade of boycotts, and Mr. Sukkar found himself in demand.

The deputy secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, the brotherhood’s political wing, Mr. Sukkar listed the party’s priorities: unemployment, poverty, health care, education, human rights, economic development, debt. He did not mention religion. Indeed, the party scrapped its old slogan, “Islam is the Solution.” Its new slogan: “Reform.”

In retreat elsewhere in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood hopes to stage a comeback of sorts here in the relatively moderate kingdom of Jordan by calibrating its message. Eschewing the more radical language of Islamists in other parts of the region, the Brotherhood has emphasized bread-and-butter concerns and included women and Christians on the candidate lists it presented to voters on Tuesday.

“Our slogan of reform does not conflict with our Islamic values,” Mr. Sukkar said in between phone calls. “They are not two contradictory things.” But Jordanians do not want the convulsions they have seen around them, he added. “They don’t want the violent path to reform.”

Read the rest here.

The GMBDW reported in May that the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia, known as the Ennahda Party, would “relinquish the label of Political Islam.

Recent GMBDW reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has included:

  • The GMBDW reported in April that police in Jordan had shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the capital Amman.
  • The GMBDW reported in February that group allegedly ended its official affiliation with the Egyptian organization.
  • The GMBDW reported in December of 2015 that key members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood had resigned in the ongoing dispute between rival factions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

For a history of extremist statements made in the past by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.

For an analysis of the relationship between the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and the government, go here.

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