The Brotherhood evolves

Ibrahim El Houdaiby, Guardian Comment is Free, January 2:

The Muslim Brotherhood, like other opposition groups in Egypt, is going through a period of repression. It is repressed more than any other organisation to the widespread popularity it enjoys. Hundreds of its members have been detained over the past few months and a severe media distortion campaign is run by state-owned press and TV channels, while security threats restrict independent media outlets from reporting an objective and balanced image of the group.

In spite of this, and in an unprecedented initiative, the Muslim Brotherhood sent a draft of its political manifesto a few weeks ago to be reviewed by a selected group of intellectuals and opposition leaders from different backgrounds (including seculars and critics of the Brotherhood), a definite sign of political openness, tolerance and confidence.

It also shows the Brotherhood’s willingness to accept criticism, contrary to the repeated claim of several adversaries. There is a realisation within the Brotherhood that there is nothing sacred about the political programme; it is a man-made programme that aims at achieving the objectives of Islam: justice, equality, peace, and compassion among all members of society. The draft was leaked to the media by some of the recipients and that triggered an intense debate far beyond the borders of Egypt.

One of the positive outcomes of this is that it revealed the Brotherhood’s internal diversity, which is the norm in any large and long-running organisation. Several researchers have previously pointed out this diversity as a sign of political maturity.

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