Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ICG Report on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt´s political landscape

A new International Crisis Group paper on how to bring about, and further the integration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the official political system is out today.

Egypt’s Muslim Brothers: Confrontation or Integration? looks at the possibilities for integration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the political system of Egypt, as part of a reform of the same system. I´ve just recieved it and haven´t had any time to read through it yet, but wanted to share the link to the report, and i´ll try to comment on it further , later. It can be found in it´s entirety here( 24 pages PDF). For those of you who feels that you don´t have the time for the full report, the executive summary and recommendations, and the press release could offer an alternative. Here is an AFP-wire on the report.

Instant Response from the MB

The Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Guide Muhammed Habib has this view on the recomendations of the ICG towards the MB concerning Women and Copts:

Habib responded to the recommendation that advises the group to alter its position on the role of women and non-Muslims in public life saying, “there should be no distinction based on religion or sex in public life. The only criterion is efficiency.”

As to whether the Muslim Brotherhood will review its stance in the party platform on the nomination of women and Copts to presidency, Habib said “we have reached this opinion by consensus, and it should be noted that it is not binding. Anyone can freely nominate him/herself to presidency and the final decision is that of the people. Also we have no problem at all in listening to others’ views on that issue provided they have a solid argument.”

Regarding the MB’s stance towards Christian minorities, he said the MB is keen on the Copts’ vivid participation in political and social life.

“Our Coptic brothers must be engaged in political life because they are an essential part of the Egyptian society who should fully take part in Egypt’s reform and development.”

It sounds nice, but what does it really mean? What is the MB view on this, you have taken a consensus decision, but it´s binding? Once too often you are deliberately vague in my view.

The Muslim Brotherhood had a fantastic opportunity to show people that they believe in a fully pluralistic and democratic society, and to show that they once and for all had laid the politics of symbolics behind them, instead they gave us a platform that showed us that the old guard still rules undisputed. Instead of showing tolerance and the spirit of real national unity, all they could muster was conservatism and more of the same old melody. Let´s face it, as long as people see them self as Muslims and Christians first and Egyptians second, there isn´t going to be a Coptic President , no matter how qualified, but it would mean a great deal as a symbolic gesture for Copts to hear Mahdi Akef or Muhammed Habib state it loud and clear that they believe in equal and inclusive citizen rights without restrictions.

For women it´s not a matter of symbolic gestures, i hope that at least one woman will run for the Presidential office in 2011 and that we will have a lady as President by 2023, maybe i´m naivé, but regardless of that, women´s participation in politics will become routine in the next 20 years or so, and i could easily see Makarem al Deiri, Jehan Al-Halafawy or represetatives of the Ikhwan blogging generation Zaraá Khairat al Shater and Khadija Hassan Malek running both for parliament and for the office of President in the future, that is if you allow them, None of these personalities is less qualified to run than any of the 88 members of parlaiment that currently serve the parliament for the Ikhwan.

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