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A Muslim Archipelago

Max L. Gross

This book has been many years in the making, as the author explains in his Preface, though he wrote most of the actual text during his year as senior Research Fellow with the Center for Strategic Intelligence Research. The author was for many years Dean of the School of Intelligence Studies at the Joint Military Intelligence College. Even though it may appear that the book could have been written by any good historian or Southeast Asia regional specialist, this work is illuminated by the author’s more than three decades of service within the national Intelligence Community. His regional expertise often has been applied to special assessments for the Community. With a knowledge of Islam unparalleled among his peers and an unquenchable thirst for determining how the goals of this religion might play out in areas far from the focus of most policymakers’ current attention, the author has made the most of this opportunity to acquaint the Intelligence Community and a broader readership with a strategic appreciation of a region in the throes of reconciling secular and religious forces.
This publication has been approved for unrestricted distribution by the Office of Security Review, Department of Defense.

INDONESIA’S ELECTIONS

Bernhard Platzdasch

AS INDONESIA gears up for its elections next April, making sense of developments can be a challenge.
Take, for example, the latest election forecasts. In a recent opinion poll, the Indonesian Survey Institute named President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s DemocratsParty (PD) as the leading contender with an approval rating of 16.8 per cent. The party was followed by Vice-President Jusuf Kalla’s Golkar Party with 15.9 per cent and Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) with 14.2 per cent. But several surveys had earlier this year put PDI-P and
Golkar first and second, with PD taking third or fourth place. Another noteworthy difference in the latest survey is the meagre 4.9 per cent for the Islamist Justice and Welfare Party (PKS). Earlier surveys put the PKSshare a few points higher and the party has even claimed that it can achieve some 20 per cent of the total vote.
Without forgetting that the forecasts have limited credibility due to the large number of undecided voters, what conclusions can be drawn from the varying results of these surveys?
First, it is almost certain that no party will secure an outright victory, thus paving the way for yet anotherand again potentially brittlecoalition government. With no party gaining an absolute majority, contenders for the presidential elections in July
will need the endorsement of other parties. As for Dr Yudhoyono, he and Golkar will probably continue their partnership. But Ms Megawati has already made it clear that she is not willing to serve as vice-president. This means a coalition made up of Golkar
and the PDI-P is unlikely.

Muslim Americans Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

Pew Research Center

Muslims constitute a growing and increasingly important segment of American society.Yet there is surprisingly little quantitative research about the attitudes and opinions of thissegment of the public for two reasons. First, the U.S. Census is forbidden by law from askingquestions about religious belief and affiliation, and, as a result, we know very little about thebasic demographic characteristics of Muslim Americans. Second, Muslim Americans comprisesuch a small percentage of the U.S. population that general population surveys do not interview asufficient number of them to allow for meaningful analysis.This Pew Research Center study is therefore the first ever nationwide survey to attempt tomeasure rigorously the demographics, attitudes and experiences of Muslim Americans. It buildson surveys conducted in 2006 by the Pew Global Attitudes Project of Muslim minority publics inGreat Britain, France, Germany and Spain. The Muslim American survey also follows on Pew’sglobal surveys conducted over the past five years with more than 30,000 Muslims in 22 nationsaround the world since 2002.The methodological approach employed was the most comprehensive ever used to studyMuslim Americans. Nearly 60,000 respondents were interviewed to find a representative sampleof Muslims. Interviews were conducted in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi, as well as English. Subsamplesof the national poll were large enough to explore how various subgroups of thepopulationincluding recent immigrants, native-born converts, and selected ethnic groupsincluding those of Arab, Pakistani, and African American heritagediffer in their attitudesThe survey also contrasts the views of the Muslim population as a whole with those ofthe U.S. general population, and with the attitudes of Muslims all around the world, includingWestern Europe. Finally, findings from the survey make important contributions to the debateover the total size of the Muslim American population.The survey is a collaborative effort of a number of Pew Research Center projects,including the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the Pew Forum on Religion &Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center. The project was overseen by Pew Research CenterPresident Andrew Kohut and Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Director Luis Lugo. ThePew Research Center’s Director of Survey Research, Scott Keeter, served as project director forthe study, with the close assistance of Gregory Smith, Research Fellow at the Pew Forum. Manyother Pew researchers participated in the design, execution and analysis of the survey.

Towards Understanding Islam

SAYYID MAWDUDI

THE MEANING OF ISLAM

Every religion of the world has been named either after its founder or after the community ornation in which it was born. For instance, Christianity takes its name from its prophet JesusChrist; Buddhism from its founder, Gautama Buddha; Zoroastrianism from its founderZoroaster-, and Judaism, the religion of the Jews, from the name of the tribe Judah (of thecountry of Judea) where it originated. The same is true of all other religions except Islam, whichenjoys the unique distinction of having no such association with any particular person or peopleor country. Nor is it the product of any human mind. It is a universal religion and itsobjective is to create and cultivate in man the quality and attitude of Islam.Islam, in fact, is an attributive title. Anyone who possesses this attribute, whatever race,community, country or group he belongs to, is a Muslim. According to the Qur’an (the HolyBook of the Muslims), among every people and in all ages there have been good and righteouspeople who possessed this attributeand all of them were and are Muslims.IslamWhat Does it Mean?Islam is an Arabic word and connotes submission, surrender and obedience. As a religion,Islam stands for complete submission and obedience to Allah.1Everyone can see that we live in an orderly universe, where everything is assigned a place in agrand scheme. The moon, the stars and all the heavenly bodies are knit together in amagnificent system. They follow unalterable laws and make not even the slightest deviation fromtheir ordained courses. Similarly, everything in the world, from the minute whirling electron tothe mighty nebulae, invariably follows its own laws. Matter, energy and lifeall obey their lawsand grow and change and live and die in accordance with those laws. Even in the human worldthe laws of nature are paramount. Man’s birth, growth and life are all regulated by a set ofbiological laws. He derives sustenance from nature in accordance with an unalterable law. Allthe organs of his body, from the smallest tissues to the heart and the brain, are governedby the laws prescribed for them. In short, ours is a law-governed universe and everything in it isfollowing the course that has been ordained for it.

Middle East Democracy Promotion Is Not a One-way Street

Marina Ottaway

The U.S. administration is under pressure to revive democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East,but momentum toward political reform has stalled in most of the region. Opposition parties are at lowebb, and governments are more firmly in control than ever. While new forms of activism, such as laborprotests and a growing volume of blogging critical of government and opposition parties have becomewidespread, they have yet to prove effective as means of influencing leaders to change long-standingpolicies.The last time a U.S. administration faced such unfavorable circumstances in advancing political reformswas over 30 years ago, when the Helsinki process was launched during the Cold War. That experiencetaught us that the United States needs to give reluctant interlocutors something they want if itexpects them to engage on issues they would rather not address. If Washington wants Arab countriesto discuss the universal democratic principles that should underpin their political systems, it needs to beprepared to discuss the universal principles that should underpin its own Middle East policies.

ISLAMISM IN SOUTHERN EGYPT

James Toth

For years, religious violence and terrorism in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypthave splashed across the headlines and surged across the screen, announcing yet anotherround of senseless death and destruction. While Arabists and Islamicists attemptto pick their way carefully through the ideological and intellectual minefields to makesense of what is happening, the wider public generally disregards their insights andinstead sticks to what it knows best: deeply ingrained prejudices and biases. Egyptian,Arab, Muslim—all are painted in a very unfavorable light. Even in Egypt, manybystanders show the same sorry prejudices. In the end, people simply blame the brutalityon inexplicable backward religious ideas and then move on.Yet comprehending terrorism and violence in places such as Egypt by recourse toan unnuanced religious fundamentalism is generally acknowledged not only to begthe question of why these events actually happen, but also to lead to misunderstandingsand misperceptions, and perhaps even to exacerbating existing tensions.1 Mostscholars agree that such seemingly “irrational” social behavior instead needs to beplaced in its appropriate context to be properly understood, and hence made rational.Analyzing these actions, then, involves situating this violence and destruction in theireconomic, political, and ideological milieu as these have developed historically, forthis so-called Islamic terrorism does not merely arise, ex nihilo, out of a timeless void.What follows, then, is one case study of one portion of the Islamic movement as itemerged principally in southern Egypt and as it was revealed through anthropologicalfieldwork conducted in one of this region’s major cities. This account takes a completelydifferent direction from that of stigmatizing this movement as a sordid collectionof terrorist organizations hell bent on the senseless destruction of Egypt and itsIslamic civilization.2 Because this view is somewhat at odds with the perceptions oflocal spectators, Egyptians in Cairo, and non–Egyptians inside and outside the country,I go to some length not only to discuss the movement itself but also to shed lighton why it might have received such negative publicity.

MB goes Rural

Hossam Tammam


The May 2008 elections of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau show that the grouphas undergone a major transformation. The Muslim Brotherhood used to be an urban group inits membership and style of management. Now its cultural patterns and loyalties are taking ona rural garb. As a result, the Muslim Brotherhood is losing the clarity of direction and methodit once had.Over the past few years, the Muslim Brotherhood has been infused with rural elements. Itstone is becoming more and more patriarchal, and its members are showing their superiors thekind of deference associated with countryside traditions. You hear them referring to their topofficials as theuncle hajj “, “the big hajj “, “our blessed one”, “the blessed man of ourcircle”, “the crown on our heads”, etc. Occasionally, they even kiss the hands and heads of thetop leaders. Not long ago, a Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarian kissed the hand of thesupreme guide in public.These patterns of behaviour are new to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that emerged andoperated mostly in an urban context. The new ways of speech and behaviour, which I willrefer to as theruralisationof the Muslim Brotherhood, have affected every aspect of thegroup’s internal operations. In its recent elections, the Muslim Brotherhood maintained a tightlid of secrecy, offered the public contradictory information, and generally seemed to beoperating with little regard for established procedure.The Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council elections emphasised ritual over order. The mainconcern of the Brotherhood, throughout the recent elections, seemed to be with maintainingan aura of respect for the leadership and getting the rank-and- file to offer unquestioningloyalty to top officials.A system of secondary loyalties has emerged inside the Muslim Brotherhood, in nearindependence from all considerations of institutional work. Entire geographical areas, indeedentire governorates, are now viewed as political fiefdoms pertaining to one MuslimBrotherhood leader or another. Muslim Brotherhood members would refer to a certain city orgovernorate as being the turf of certain individuals.Duplicity, another trait of rural communities, is also rampant. Feigned allegiance is common,with members saying one thing in private and another in public. As is the custom in thecountryside, deference to authority is often coupled with resistance to change. As a result,you’d see members pretending to listen to their Muslim Brotherhood superiors while payinglittle or no attention to what they say. Many of the new ideas put forward by MuslimBrotherhood leaders have been ignored, or at least diluted and then discarded.When a Brotherhood member comes up with a new idea, the Muslim Brotherhood leadershipreacts as if that member spoke out of order. Self- criticism is increasingly being frowned uponand the dominant thinking within the Brotherhood is becoming traditionalist andunquestioning.The Muslim Brotherhood has been active in recruiting teachers and professors. But most ofthe new recruits are rural in their culture and understanding of public life. Despite theirscholarly pedigree, many of the academics that have joined the Brotherhood are parochial intheir understanding of the world. The Muslim Brotherhood has nearly 3,000 universityprofessors in its ranks, and few or any of those are endowed with the habit of critical thinking.They may be academics, but they are no visionaries.In the recent Muslim Brotherhood elections, five members of the group’s Shura Council wonseats in the Guidance Bureau. Most of those were either from rural areas or people with apronounced rural lifestyle. Four were from the countryside, including Saadeddin El-Husseinifrom Sharqiya, Mohamed Hamed from Mahala Al-Kobra, Saadeddin El-Katatni from Minya.Only one was from a metropolitan centre: Osama Nasr from Alexandria.Over the past decade or so, most of the newcomers to the Guidance Bureau were from thecountryside: Mahmoud Hussein from Assiut, Sabri Arafa El-Komi from Daqahliya, andMohamed Mursi from Sharqiya. Rural governorates, such as Assiut, Minya, Daqahliya andSharqiya, are now in control of much of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially middle-rankingposts, while Cairo and Alexandria have seen their status gradually erode. The Brotherhoodleadership is encouraging the trend, for rural people are less prone to challenging theirleaders.There was a time when the Muslim Brotherhood appealed mainly to an urban audience. Butsince the late 1980s things have changed. Due to the long-running confrontation with theregime, the Muslim Brotherhood has found it harder to recruit urban supporters. Also, the lackof innovation in Muslim Brotherhood ways has turned off many city dwellers. Instead ofjoining the Muslim Brotherhood, the young and disgruntled, as well as those seeking spiritualsalvation, have joined the Salafi current or become followers of the country’s new breed ofwell- spoken televangelists. The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has mostly abandonedreligious propagation in favour of politics may have accelerated this trend.What the Muslim Brotherhood has to offer is something that city dwellers don’t really need.The Muslim Brotherhood offers an alternative family, a cloning of the village communitywith its personalised support system. This is something that appeals best to new arrivals fromthe countryside, to people who miss the stability and comfort of a traditional community.The attraction of countryside people to the Muslim Brotherhood over the past two decadescoincided with the disintegration of the extended family and the weakening of communal ties.Moreover, the Westernisation of city life may have pushed many people with a ruralbackground into seeking a moral and social refuge in the Muslim Brotherhood.In universities, the Muslim Brotherhood attracts newcomers to the cities rather than originalcity dwellers. It is more successful in recruitment among students in Al-Azhar University thanin other universities, and more successful in rural governorates than in Cairo and Alexandria.Following the 1952 Revolution, Egypt as a whole underwent a wave of ruralisation. But eventhen, the Muslim Brotherhood focussed its recruitment on people with an urban lifestyle. Fiftyyears ago, the Muslim Brotherhood recruited mostly among the sons of governmentemployees, teachers, and generally the white-collared class. Egypt’s countryside was notwelcoming to the Muslim Brotherhood or its outlook. Now, the Muslim Brotherhood hasgone so conventional that it is gaining ground in the countryside.The Muslim Brotherhood can run effective campaigns and even win elections in many areasin Egypt’s countryside. Yet, it is my belief that the countryside is affecting the MuslimBrotherhood more than the Muslim Brotherhood is affecting it.In Hassan El-Banna’s time, Muslim Brotherhood leaders were mostly urban in their ways:Hassan El-Hodeibi, Omar El-Telmesani, Hassan Ashmawi, Mounir Dallah, Abdel-QaderHelmi and Farid Abdel Khaleq. Even in the countryside, top Muslim Brotherhood memberswere known for their urban lifestyle: Mohamed Hamed Abul- Naser and Abbas Al-Sisi, forexample.By contrast, the new breed of Muslim Brotherhood leaders is rural in its ways. This goes evenfor Cairo-based Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Mohamed Mursi, Saad El-Katatni,Saad Al-Husseini and Sabri Arafa El-Komi. And the Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide,Mahdi Akef, is more rural in his leadership style than his predecessor, Maamoun Al-Hodeibi.

Political Islam Gaining Ground

Michael A. Lange

characteristics of the democratic order. Their newly-discovered acceptance of elections andparliamentary processes results not least from a gradual democratisation of the formerlyauthoritarian regimes these groups had fought by terrorist means even in their home countries.The prime example of this development is Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which started out as acharitable social movement and has now become the most powerful political opposition force inEgypt.Founded in the 1920s, the Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest Islamic organisation of the Arabworld today. Following the ideas of its founder Al-Banna, it intended to return to a state of ‘trueIslam’, i.e. to return to the way of life of the early Islamic congregation at the time of theProphet, and to establish a community of social justice. This vision was increasingly viewed as acounterweight to the Western social model that was marked by secularisation, moral decay, andgreed. During World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood even founded a secret military arm, whoseactivities, however, were uncovered, leading to the execution of Mr Al-Banna by Egypt’s secretpolice

In the Shadow of the Brothers

Omayma Abdel-Latif

In September 2007, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt released its fi rst politicalparty platform draft. Among the heavily criticized clauses was one that deniedwomen (and Copts) the right to be head of state. “Duties and responsibilities assumed by the head of state, such as army commanding, are in contradictionwith the socially acceptable roles for women,” the draft stated. In previousBrotherhood documents there was no specifi c mention of the position of headof state; rather, they declared that women were allowed to occupy all postsexcept for al-imama al-kubra, the position of caliph, which is the equivalentof a head of state in modern times. Many were surprised that despite severalprogressive moves the Brotherhood had made in previous years to empowerwomen, it ruled out women’s right to the country’s top position.Although the platform was only a fi rst draft, the Muslim Brotherhood’s banon women in Egypt’s top offi ce revived old, but serious, questions regardingthe Islamist movement’s stand on the place and role of the “Sisters” inside themovement. The Brotherhood earlier had taken an advanced position concerningwomen, as refl ected in its naming of women candidates for parliamentaryand municipal elections in 2000, 2005, and 2007, as well as the growingnumbers of women involved in Brotherhood political activities, such as streetprotests and elections. Although the platform recognizes women as key politicalactors, it was considered a retreat from the movement’s advanced positionin some earlier electoral platforms.

The Draft Party Platform of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Nathan J. Brown
Amr Hamzawy

In the late summer 2007, amid great anticipation from Egypt’s ruling elite and opposition movements, the Muslim Brotherhood distributed the first draft of a party platform to a group of intellectuals and analysts. The platform was not to serve as a document for an existing political party or even one about to be founded: the Brotherhood remains without legal recognition in Egypt and Egypt’s rulers and the laws they have enacted make the prospect of legal recognition for a Brotherhood-founded party seem distant. But the Brotherhood’s leadership clearly wished to signal what sort of party they would found if allowed to do so.

With the circulation of the draft document, the movement opened its doors to discussion and even contentious debate about the main ideas of the platform, the likely course of the Brotherhood’s political role, and the future of its relationship with other political forces in the country.1 In this paper, we seek to answer four questions concerning the Brotherhood’s

party platform:

1. What are the specific controversies and divisions generated by the platform?


2. Why and how has the platform proved so divisive?


3. Given the divisions it caused as well as the inauspicious political environment,

why was a platform drafted at this time?


4. How will these controversies likely be resolved?


We also offer some observations about the Brotherhood’s experience with

drafting a party platform and demonstrate how its goals have only been partly

met. Ultimately, the integration of the Muslim Brotherhood as a normal political

actor will depend not only on the movement’s words but also on the deeds

of a regime that seems increasingly hostile to the Brotherhood’s political role.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium

Steve Merley,
Senior Analyst


The Global Muslim Brotherhood has been present in Europe since 1960 when SaidRamadan, the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna, founded a mosque in Munich.1 Since that time,Brotherhood organizations have been established in almost all of the EU countries, as well asnon-EU countries such as Russia and Turkey. Despite operating under other names, some ofthe organizations in the larger countries are recognized as part of the global MuslimBrotherhood. For example, the Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF) isgenerally regarded as part of the Muslim Brotherhood in France. The network is alsobecoming known in some of the smaller countries such as the Netherlands, where a recentNEFA Foundation report detailed the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in that country.2Neighboring Belgium has also become an important center for the Muslim Brotherhood inEurope. A 2002 report by the Intelligence Committee of the Belgian Parliament explainedhow the Brotherhood operates in Belgium:“The State Security Service has been following the activities of the InternationalMuslim Brotherhood in Belgium since 1982. The International MuslimBrotherhood has had a clandestine structure for nearly 20 years. The identityof the members is secret; they operate in the greatest discretion. They seek tospread their ideology within the Islamic community of Belgium and they aimin particular at the young people of the second and third generation ofimmigrants. In Belgium as in other European countries, they try to take controlof the religious, social, and sports associations and establish themselves asprivileged interlocutors of the national authorities in order to manage Islamicaffairs. The Muslim Brotherhood assumes that the national authorities will bepressed more and more to select Muslim leaders for such management and,in this context, they try to insert within the representative bodies, individualsinfluenced by their ideology.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe

Brigi t te Maréchal
Shumuliyyat al-islam (Islam as encompassing every aspect of life) is the first of twenty principles laid out by the
founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Hassan al-Banna, to teach his followers the proper understanding
of Islam. Even though this principle, usually translated as the “comprehensive way of life,” still remains integral
to the teachings of the members of the Brotherhood, both in Egypt and in Europe, it is strangely enough
neither commented upon in scholarly references nor by the wider public. When the Federation of Islamic
Organizations in Europe (FIOE, representing the Muslim Brotherhood movement at the European level) presented the European Muslim Charter to the international press in January 2008, none pinpointed this “universal dimension” of their understanding of Islam despite the potential tensions or even incompatibilities, both political and
legal, that this concept might have on a discourse on integration and citizenship. What do the Muslim Brothers traditionally say about this concept and how do they justify their call for it? What are its constituents
and the scope of its application? Are there any significant modifications to the concept in attempting to contextualize it within a pluralist Europe?

ISLAMIC MOBILIZATION

Ziad Munson

This article examines the emergence and growth of the Muslim Brotherhood inEgypt from the 1930s through the 1950s. It begins by outlining and empirically evaluatingpossible explanations for the organization’s growth based on (1) theories of politicalIslam and (2) the concept of political opportunity structure in social movementtheory. An extension of these approaches is suggested based on data from organizationaldocuments and declassiŽed U.S. State Department Žles from the period. Thesuccessful mobilization of the Muslim Brotherhood was possible because of the wayin which its Islamic message was tied to its organizational structure, activities, andstrategies and the everyday lives of Egyptians. The analysis suggests that ideas areintegrated into social movements in more ways than the concept of framing allows.It also expands our understanding of how organizations can arise in highly repressiveenvironments.

Mahmoud Ezzat in a comprehensive interview with Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansur

Mahmoud Ezzat

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a comprehensive interview with Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour ascertained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s elections for Chairman scheduled to be held in the upcoming period by members of the Guidance Bureau is open to everyone who wishes to submit his nomination papers as a candidate.

In his statement to the talk show Bila Hedood (Without Borders) on Al-Jazeera TV, Ezzat explained that nomination papers generally should not be used for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidates but rather a complete list of the entire Brotherhood’s 100-member Shura Council is presented to elect the Brotherhood’s Chairman and Guidance Bureau. He denied that the Brotherhood’s General Guide to leadership of the General Shura Council does not allow him the freedom to work on his own in making his final decision. He also revealed that the Council has the authority to hold the Chairman accountable for any failure and if the need arises dismiss him at any time.

He stressed that the movement is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to practice the principle of Shura (consultation) within the ranks of, pointing out that the Shura Council will elect the Chairman and a new Guidance Bureau in the upcoming year.

He commented on the Media coverage of what really happened behind the scenes at the Guidance Bureau, citing that the committee which consisted of leading figures such as Dr. Essam el-Erian and a number of the Guidance Bureau members responsible for printing the Chairman’s weekly statement objected to Mr. Mahdi Akef’s wish a trifle difference of opinion. Akef’s first term will end on January 13, 2010 however he has announced earlier; he will still make a decision whether he will remain in office for a second term as the group’s general guide.

He continued that the 81-year old Akef had informed members of the Guidance Bureau earlier that he intended to resign and will not serve for a second term. Members of the Bureau immediately responded urging him to remain in office.

In his weekly message, Mahdi Akef vaguely referred to his intentions of not running a second term and thanking the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the Guidance Bureau who shared with him the responsibility as if he intended it to be his farewell speech. On Sunday, October 17 the media claimed that the Chairman of the Brotherhood had announced his resignation; however the Chairman has repeatedly denied media allegations where he came to the office the next day and met with members. He later issued a statement disclosing the truth. Media allegations on the Guidance Bureau’s unwillingness to appoint Dr. Essam el-Erian are totally false.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat ascertained that the movement is pleased to provide an opportunity to members to share their opinions, stressing it is a manifestation of power matching with its existing large size and leading role, indicating that Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood is very pleased to do so.

He stressed that all issues come back to the Guidance Office for the final decision where its resolutions are binding and satisfactory to all, regardless of the differences in opinion.

I do not underestimate what has happened already or I’d simply say there is no crisis, at the same time, we should not blow things out of its context, we are determined to apply the principle of Shura”, he added.

It was discussed earlier at the subsequent meeting of the Guidance Bureau that the group’s Shura Council has the sole right to elect membership of the Guidance Bureau to any member, he explained. Dr. Essam himself agreed that it was not suitable to appoint a new member in the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau since the election was near.

Ezzat stated that the episode was presented to the Shura Council on the recommendation of the guidance office amid frequent arrests and detentions waged by state security. We strive hard to involve the Shura Council to choose the next Chairman and members of the Guidance Office. It is expected the whole matter be resolved, Allah’s willing, before January 13.

It was decided at this meeting by the Chairman and members of the MB Guidance Bureau to send a letter to the Shura Council, stressing that the date for these elections will not be later than sixth months. It was assumed that the proceedings would be conducted prior to or during elections in which 5 new members were elected last year. It is the Shura Council’s decision and not the MB Guidance Bureau. Consequently, the general group’s Shura Council finally reached its unanimous decision of holding elections as soon as possible.

He stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood, with the enforcement of the Shura is organized by its internal regulations. Regulations which are adopted and advocated by laws of the Shura Council and are subject to change. The most recent amendment underway with one of its clauses is the duration of the term of a member of the Guidance Office provides that a member must not serve more than two consecutive terms.

Some members of the Guidance Office were accused of their adherence to stay in office for many years; Dr. Ezzat claimed that frequent arrests which did not exclude any one the Executive Bureau prompted us to modify another article in the internal Regulation that provides a member maintain his membership even if he was detained. The absence of the honorable working for the welfare of their country and the sublime mission led us to insist on them maintaining their membership. Engineer Khayrat Al-Shater will remain as second deputy chairman of the MB and Dr. Mohammed Ali Bishr a member of the MB Executive Bureau. It is expected Bishr will be released next month.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat completely denied rumors about internal conflicts within the opposition group with regards to leadership, stressing that the mechanisms, regulations and terms are paving the way to select the movement’s leaders. He also noted that Egypt’s geographical situation and considerable moral weight within the Muslim world justifies the need for the MB Chairman to be Egyptian.

The Guidance Office is currently exploring the general tendency of the Brotherhood’s 100-member Shura Council with regards to nominating a suitable candidate eligible to take charge as Chairman”, he said.

It is extremely difficult to predict who will be the next chairman, noting that 5 minutes ahead of appointing Mr. Akef as Chairman nobody knew, the ballots only decided who would be the new leader”, he said.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat attributed the Media’s apparent conflicting reports on their allegations towards remarks about the Brotherhood top leaders to the same inconsistencies of media reports on senior leaders that vary from newspaper to another.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat shed light with figures upon security raids that led to the arrest of some 2696 members of the group in 2007, 3674 in 2008 and 5022 in 2009. This resulted in the Shura Council’s inability to hold meetings and contest elections.

He also emphasized that the Muslim Brotherhood is extremely keen on maintaining Egypt’s national security and itsinterest in achieving peaceful reform in the society. “We are well aware that the meetings of the Guidance Office are surveilled by security although we intend only to practice democracy. In fact, we do not want to provoke the hostility and animosity of others”.

He also stressed the differences within the organization are not motivated by hatred or personal differences since the decent temperaments encouraged by the sublime teachings of Islam encourage us to tolerate difference of opinions. He added that history has proven that the Muslim Brotherhood movement has encountered much more difficult circumstances than the existing crisis.

The media has projected a negative image of the Muslim Brotherhood where they relied on SSI investigations for information. It is imperative that journalists get facts from the original sources if they are to have some sort of credibility. In fact the judiciary has invalidated all the accusations reported in state investigation, he said.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat was optimistic that the current political crisis will pass asserting that events will prove that the Muslim Brotherhood with all its noble manners, objectivity, and practicing of democracy will shine through with flying colours.

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