In Egypt and Jordan, Brotherhood feels the heat (JERUSALEM POST) By OREN KESSLER 04/22/12)
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The euphoria with which the West first welcomed the Middle East
revolts has long subsided, as Islamists’ electoral victories across
the region spark fears that the “Arab Spring” has devolved into an
Islamic winter. But developments in Egypt and Jordan last week have
forced the region´s oldest and largest Islamist group – the Muslim
Brotherhood – to wonder whether the road to political rule may be
bumpier than anticipated.
This week, the Egyptian Brotherhood’s presidential ambitions suffered
a blow when the country’s electoral committee disqualified its main
candidate, Khairat al-Shater, over a prior criminal conviction. On
Wednesday, Shater lashed out at the ruling Supreme Council of the
Armed Forces for what he described as a plot to keep the Brotherhood
out of power.
“The military council does not have the serious intention to transfer
power,” Shater said, accusing the officers – who forced out fellow
general Hosni Mubarak after street protests last year – of reneging
on promises to step aside.
“We must wake up, because there is an attempt to hijack the
revolution,” he said.
With Shater out, the Brotherhood’s replacement candidate is Mohamed
Mursi, chairman of its Freedom and Justice Party. Mursi is both less
charismatic and less recognizable than his predecessor, and could
struggle at the polls.
“Is this the man that never smiles? Why would I vote for someone I’ve
never heard of and who I know nothing about?” a Cairo security guard
told Reuters, referring to Mursi.
In Jordan, parliament moved last week to ban the Brotherhood’s
political party – and the country’s largest parliamentary faction –
from running in upcoming elections. The DPA news agency reported that
46 of 83 lawmakers voted to add a clause in election regulations
stipulating that no party could be formed on an “ethnic, sectarian or
“This is only the latest in a series of measures by deputies to limit
the influence of political parties and any dissenting views in
parliament and political life in general,” said Zaki Bani Rsheid,
political bureau chief for the Islamic Action Front, the
Brotherhood’s Jordanian branch. “We believe all Jordanian citizens –
not only Islamists – should have the right to form a political party
Both countries’ political establishment now jostle to sideline the
Brotherhood. On Wednesday, Egypt’s grand mufti visited Jerusalem’s Al-
Aksa Mosque along with a member of the Jordanian royal family.
Brotherhood factions in both Cairo and Amman condemned the visit.
“What he did cannot be justified and cannot be endorsed,” a top
Egyptian Brotherhood official said on the movement’s website. Grand
Mufti Ali Gomaa is a political appointee – named to the post in 2003
by Mubarak. Joining Gomaa in his Jerusalem visit was Jordan’s Prince
Ghazi bin Mohammed, the cousin of King Abdullah II and his adviser on
“In line with Islamic edicts issued by respected clerics and
consultations with Christian religious leaders, we consider these
trips as acts of normalization that serve the schemes of the enemy,”
Islamic Action Front chairman Hamzeh Mansur said.
“Mosque preachers, thinkers, intellectuals and journalists should
intensify their efforts to warn the public against the dangerous
risks behind such visits, which must not continue,” added Mansur, who
also heads a committee against normalization of relations with Israel.
Muslim and Christian religious establishments in the Arab world have
traditionally objected to visiting Islamic holy places in Jerusalem
as long as the eastern city remains under Israeli control. But
speaking in Qatar in February, Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas called on Arabs and Muslims to visit the city, assuring
them such a move would in no way represent “normalization” with the
“Visiting a prisoner is an act of support and does not mean
normalization with the warden,” Abbas said at the time.
Ghazi’s visit comes two weeks after that of another of the monarch’s
cousins, Prince Hashim bin Al Hussein. Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites
are in the custody of the Jordanian Wakf – the Islamic religious
trusteeship – a holdover from the Jordanian occupation of east
Jerusalem and the West Bank between 1948 and 1967.
Last week in Egypt, the Brotherhood faced with criticism from a
number of youth activists who led the anti-Mubarak uprising more than
a year ago. A coalition of 34 youth groups signed a joint statement
on Wednesday, blaming both the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
and the Brotherhood for allowing the goals of the revolution to
Youth activists have criticized the SCAF for months, but the
statement marked the first explicit condemnation of the Brotherhood’s
conduct during the uprising’s aftermath.
“The Muslim Brotherhood bear part of the responsibility for weakening
the revolution’s momentum and diverting its path as they preferred
their narrow party interests over that of the people,” the statement
said, Egypt’s Al- Ahram newspaper reported on Thursday.
“The revolution arose against a police and military state, but the
Brotherhood were mainly against Mubarak alone,” youth activist Khaled
Teleima told the paper. “The Brotherhood were against Mubarak but not
for the revolution.” Reuters contributed to this report. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/22/12)
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