Egypt’s Brotherhood faces sterner critics, internal rifts

June 29, 2011

(Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie in Cairo, April 30, 2011/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

In the weeks after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Egyptian television channels revelled in their new freedoms by giving airtime to the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood, offering them an open platform to speak.  Members of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organised political group, are still regular guests. But the tone has changed. Soft-ball questioning has given way to rigorous interrogation about their plans and criticism of their public statements.

“You are not the guardians of the faith alone. No one gave you such a power,” writer Khaled Montasser told one Brotherhood member and former member of parliament, Sobhi Saleh.

The rebuke on a popular talk show in June followed a statement by Saleh, who was on the drafting committee of constitutional amendements, that it would do well in a September parliamentary election as its members were “God’s guardians.”

In spite of such criticism, the well-organised Brotherhood is still expected to do better than rivals in the vote. Although banned under Mubarak, it was left enough space to build up a grassroots networks through its medical and charity work.

But just how well it will do is less clear. It may have a head start on others in post-Mubarak Egypt but it now faces much deeper scrutiny about its plans and is struggling to control an internal debate about how to compete in upcoming polls.

“They have organisational and financial abilities. But there is a growing sentiment among a wide strata of Egypt’s society fearing the rise of the Brotherhood to power,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah of Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

The Brotherhood, long used to policy-making behind closed doors, has not always shown a united front since Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11. It has sometimes been clumsy in explaining decisions and has alienated alliance partners, analysts say.

Read the full story by Dina Zayed here.


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