Arab Reform Bulletin

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Egypt: Regression in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Party Platform?

Amr hamzawy


The Muslim Brotherhood’s draft party platform sends mixed signals about the movement’s political views

and positions. Although it has already been widely circulated, the document does not yet have final
approval from the movement’s guidance bureau.
The platform’s detailed treatment of political, social, and economic issues marks a significant departure
from previously less developed positions, articulated inter alia in a 2004 reform initiative and the 2005
electoral platform for Brotherhood parliamentary candidates. This shift addresses one of the most
important criticisms of the Brotherhood, namely its championing of vague ideological and religious

slogans and inability to come up with specific policy prescriptions.
The document raises troubling questions, however, regarding the identity of a future Brotherhood

political party as well as the group’s position on several political and social issues. Released in the
context of an ongoing stand-off between the Egyptian regime and the Brotherhood, it reveals significant
ambiguities and perhaps regression in the movement’s thinking.
First, the drafters chose not to address the future relationship between the party and the movement. In

doing so, they have deliberately ignored important ideas recently discussed within the movement,
especially among members of the parliamentary bloc. Inspired by the experiences of Islamist parties in
Morocco, Jordan, and Yemen, these members advocate a functional separation between a party and
the movement, with the former focused mainly on political participation and the latter on religious
activism. In addition to its superficial treatment of the nature of the party and its internal organization, the
platform includes no clear statement on opening party membership to all Egyptians regardless of their
religion, one of the requirements for establishing a political party according to the Egyptian constitution.
Second, the draft Brotherhood platform identifies implementation of sharia as one of the party’s main

goals. Although this is consistent with the group’s interpretation of Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution
(“Islam is the religion of the state, and Islamic law is the main source of legislation”), it departs from the
pragmatic spirit of various Brotherhood statements and initiatives since 2004 in which less emphasis
was given to the sharia issue. The return to a focus on sharia in the platform has led to positions
fundamentally at odds with the civil nature of the state and full citizenship rights regardless of religious
affiliation.

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