Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1237, (12 - 18 March 2015 )
Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Issue 1237, (12 - 18 March 2015 )

Ahram Weekly

Desperate times for the Brotherhood

Amany Maged on attempts by Islamists to undermine Egypt’s economic conference

Al-Ahram Weekly

While the Muslim Brotherhood and its sympathisers were trying to tarnish Egypt’s image on the eve of the economic conference due to start tomorrow in Sharm El-Sheikh some members of the group’s Jordanian branch were busy divorcing themselves from the mother organisation in Egypt and the international Muslim Brotherhood was left scrambling to set its house in order to avoid being branded as a terrorist group by other countries. The Egyptian government, for its part, has imposed strict security measures to safeguard the conference and is continuing with its crackdown on the Muslim Brothers.

Last week the death sentence passed against Mahmoud Ramadan, who murdered two young anti-Morsi demonstrators by throwing them off the roof of an apartment building in Alexandria, was carried out.

Muslim Brotherhood organisations in London, the US, Turkey and Qatar have been holding meetings in Western cities in an attempt to persuade European and American companies not to take part in the conference. In addition to lashing out at the Egyptian government, the meetings have attempted to incite rights organisations abroad into attacking Egypt.

The anti-Egypt campaign abroad is being managed by Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdel Mawgoud Al-Dardiri, spokesman for the Judges for the Sake of Egypt movement Walid Sharabi, Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Gamal Hishmat, former Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) officials Amr Darrag and Mohamed Sudan, the Coordinator of the Revolutionary Council on Turkey Maha Azzam and Anas Al-Takriti, founder of the Cordoba Foundation.

Sources say the international organisation has planned a major media offensive against the Egyptian regime to be spearheaded by Muslim Brotherhood run satellite television stations. The organisation is also planning to fund demonstrations in Egypt in front of foreign embassies and companies.

Amr Amara, who heads a group of dissident ex-Muslim Brothers, confirms that the Brotherhood’s international organisation has stepped up attempts to derail the Sharm El-Sheikh conference. “The international Muslim Brotherhood has called up international firms and threatened to instigate boycott campaigns against their products in 89 countries if they take part in the Sharm El-Sheikh conference,” claims Amara.

Brotherhood affiliated groups in Egypt have also issued threats against foreign interests, warning that foreign embassy staff members and company personnel participating in the conference would be targeted. Muslim Brotherhood officials have also called for protests and urged demonstrators to defy security forces and take to the streets.

The countdown to the conference has witnessed a spike in terrorist attacks, with an increase in bombs planted in public places targeting civilians.

The government, in response, has intensified security measures and the Egyptian media has launched an awareness raising campaign intended to drive home to Egyptian investors how important the economic conference is for Egypt’s future.

The increasingly desperate tactics adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as it seeks to undermine the conference forced some members of the movement’s Jordanian chapter to disassociate themselves from the mother organisation. According to a report in the London-based Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Amman recently approved a request submitted by Abdel-Madjid Dhuneibat, a former Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Controller General, and other Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood officials, to secede from the mother organisation in Egypt.

 Jordanian sources say the government is ready to issue a new license to the group rescinding the 1946 Jordanian cabinet’s recognition of the Jordanian chapter as a “branch of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt”. The sources add that Dhuneibat, a member of the Brotherhood’s international guidance bureau, has also submitted a request, signed by “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Jordan, to register the Muslim Brotherhood as an independent organisation.

Experts on Islamist movements note that the international Muslim Brotherhood recently convened a meeting in London to discuss what it should do should the Jordanian chapter sever its connection with the international organisation. The experts say international Brotherhood officials contacted Hamam Said, the current comptroller general of the Jordanian chapter, and instructed him to bring the situation under control and abort any attempts by moderate members to sever the connection with the mother organisation.

In response 35 Jordanian Muslim Brothers broke away from the group and elected Dhuneibat as the head of a new association which was then granted a license after disassociating from the mother organisation. Sharaf Al-Qudah was elected as Dhuneibat’s deputy.

In a related development three officials were dismissed form the Jordanian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. The move stunned political circles in Jordan and threw into relief the sharp polarisation between hawks and doves in the organisation. Divisions have been growing since the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt.

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood chapter dismissed Irhial Al-Gharabiya, Nabil Al-Kofhi and Jamil Al-Dahisat, three well known doves. Their dismissal signals the growing ascendency of hawks within the group. The new comptroller-general Hamam Said, and his deputy Zaki Bani Arshid, are both hardliners. Arshid is tipped to become the next secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.

The three dismissed Brothers were instrumental in the Zamzam initiative, a movement launched in October 2014 to promote dialogue and “forge participatory formulas for augmenting areas of consensus and minimising the scope of difference between segments of society.”

The Zamzam initiative held its inaugural ceremony at the Jordanian Royal Cultural Centre in downtown Amman. The purpose of the initiative, as stated by that event’s organisers, is to generate “a consensual communal platform for the advancement of political and social life in accordance with a centrist Islamic vision.” The initiative was criticised by hardliners within the Jordanian Brotherhood who denounced it as attempt to sow division.

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