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Monday, February 27, 2017
- The youth within the Muslim Brotherhood may become very difficult to restrain following the bloody killings in Cairo, senior party members say.
Former youth leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, Haytham Abu Khalil, told IPS that the Brotherhood youth are now in a state of anger, confusion and uncertainty. Given the killing of so many, bringing the militant among them round through intellectual and religious campaigns will now be very difficult.
“The bloody attack they suffered during the sit-ins has made them see themselves as oppressed. They think they must come together to overcome this,” Khalil said.
One consequence will be a revolt against moderate leadership within the party, he said. “After passing through the current plight, the young members will overthrow the current leadership to restore community trust in the group. But I do not expect this in the near term.”
Defections to more militant groups are expected, said Khalil who is author of the fictional book Reformist Brothers. “But it will occur in the long term, because everyone now will work to maintain the organisation. We are a complicated group and not as easy to deal with as the military thinks.”
The more immediate danger may be the forming of splinter militant groups, he said. “I do not rule out that some angry members formulate armed groups individually without reference to the leaders.”
Any move by the military to ban political parties based on religion would only drive members to radical Islamic groups who would then adopt ideas of jihadist extremism, he warned.
Dr. Amr Hashem Rabie, head of the Egyptian studies department at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said a tendency may emerge within the group to get rid of the established principle of obedience. Such a step would create an imbalance within the Brotherhood because it would be certain to attract many of the youth.
“The young feel now they have been thrown into a bloody confrontation,” he said. “Those who reject the current leadership will abandon the Brotherhood, and either quit political work or join armed militias such as the Salafist Jihadi.”
Rabie said senior Brotherhood leaders want a political role for the party, and would not like to return to darkness again. But, he said, “the voice of neo-reformists will rise from within.”
The shape of the future of the Muslim Brotherhood itself is at stake after the massive killing in Cairo and the bloody clashes over a sit-in to demand reinstatement of Mohamed Morsi, removed by the military as president.
Many political analysts believe that the future of the Muslim Brotherhood will be determined by young people, several of whom have been taking to violence to hit back over what they see as religious persecution.
Political analyst Dr. Wahid Abd-al-Majid said the crackdown by the military is turning into a confrontation between the army and the police on one hand, and an increasingly armed Muslim Brotherhood on the other.
In the face of the bloody crackdown by the military, Abd-al-Majid pointed out that there has also been violence from an armed faction within the Muslim Brotherhood. Two divergent camps are emerging within the party, he told IPS.
“I have information that there are some senior leaders within the Brotherhood who reject the escalation method of the leading sit-in group,” he said, adding that have been instructed to not show this.
Abd-al-Majid said that some armed groups, led by young members who believe that change will come only through violence and jihad, have already emerged out of the Brotherhood, and that these were gaining strength. “They would kill for the sake of the Brotherhood and in the name of Allah and Islam.”
The Brotherhood youth has been diverging into two since the Jan. 25 revolution, Abd-al-Majid said. One side has been forming peaceful groups such as “Brothers Without Violence” and “Free Brothers”. Some have gathered around dissident Brotherhood leaders or joined political parties such as al-Wasat and Masr al-Qaweya. But these are relatively minor groups.
However, the militant Brotherhood group is more dominant, he said. They are immersed in an ideology of full obedience to party leaders – at present. Reformist leaders within the Brotherhood will now struggle to change the strategy of motivating the youth into aggressive opposition.
“They are using the youth as a fuel for violence, and will abandon them at the first turn.” The youth have not been given responsible roles inside the party. They were not represented for instance within the Shura Council, he said. This may only deepen divisions between moderate party leaders and an increasingly militant youth within the group.