Last Update 17:30
Monday, 18 March 2019

The Brotherhood in power: Governance kills the project

Egypt's new rulers have abandoned their Islamist political project for change under the pretext of the realities of governance

Ibrahim El-Houdaiby , Wednesday 31 Oct 2012
Views: 3897
Views: 3897

A Muslim Brotherhood leader whose views did not change after the group reached power said he is more worried about the Brotherhood  being tainted by power than the state being tainted by the Brotherhood.

This accurately expresses the dilemma of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamist movements in general, after ascending to power in the past decade.

Since their creation and politicisation, Islamist movements became the alternative to ruling regimes that advocate a different project than their goal of an 'Islamist political project.' The Islamist project advocates a dream of unity that brings the nation together, an independence that liberates its territories, ends cultural and knowledge subjugation to others, and a renaissance that will lift it up from poverty and restore its control over its resources to be used in a just way that would lead to overall public prosperity.

Over the past decades, Islamist movements were able to maintain their structural cohesion by not specifying the details of the project to avoid disagreements about the definition of Sharia (Islamic Law), and the infrastructure of political, economic and social systems.

In the case of the Brotherhood, this resulted in deep rifts among members about legislative as well as political outlooks:  the group today has four conflicting currents, namely the Azhar heritage; Salafists; the Qutb school; and modern Islam. On the political level, there are disputes over the state’s religious and social responsibilities, the state’s economic responsibility, foreign policy, etc.

This means that maintaining the unity of the group has come at the expense of the political project’s intellectual clarity and political maturity.

Islamist movements are no exception in terms of having incomplete political projects, just like all other existing political entities, but this movement’s organisational skills and popularity has brought it to power after the Arab revolutions. Thus, its projects for change are being put to the test.

The Brotherhood reached power in Egypt through a parliamentary majority and then won the presidency, which has forced them to face a different challenge other than the trials of repression that they are used to. They are up against the challenge of governance which is accompanied by pressure from interest groups to maintain the status quo.

On the domestic front, the challenge is in the form of interest networks of the security agencies and businessmen; and on the foreign front, in terms of regional alliances that Egypt has orbited in recent decades – most prominently, the 'moderate axis' that combines Washington, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Cairo.

These are the challenges that the Brotherhood faces because it reached power before its political projects reached maturity. They are facing these challenges in the absence of a vision that regulates their stands on these issues, and therefore the position of the political leadership is reactionary, making the gauge of success how 'steadfast' they are in facing challenges – essentially staying in power.

The same happened when the group’s existence became a goal in itself, although the causes then were beyond the powers of the Brotherhood (suppression). The causes for this while in power, however, come from within the group, namely lack of vision, because there is no room to claim excuses about outside challenges since they would be the same for anyone in power.

In the absence of vision and existing pressure from reality, political leadership has taken positions that contradict the fundamentals of the 'project' that the Islamist movement promotes. Seeking a loan from the IMF and declaring there is 'no intention' to revise the QIZ agreement contradicts the goal of economic independence.

The president’s friendly discourse towards his Israeli counterpart and the 'silly' explanation for this conduct by the presidency, accompanied by a continued siege on Gaza, destroying tunnels (the last resort for Gaza residents), as well as continued reassurances to uphold the peace treaty, completely undermines any rhetoric about independence of territories and the nation’s unity.

Continuing Mubarak's neo-liberal economic policies (which some close to the presidency have defended by saying the problem was corruption) keeps wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, and this leads to expanding poverty (making any solutions dependent on temporary charity and civic action without any intervention to reform economic structures).

Talk about Sharia is fading and there is no vision defining it or the purpose of applying it, while neo-liberal culture dominates all aspects of life (consumerism, world, market, human being, product, consumer), which also strips any talk of civilisational or knowledge independence of meaning.

Having Islamists reach power in this context does not empower Islam as referenced in Islamist literature or as aspired to by supporters. Instead, it is the empowerment of political groups who reached power and are seeking to hold onto power by appeasing those they view as powerful players in the political arena.

Adopted policies indicate that the leadership believes there is a need to reach an understanding with the web of interests and corruption within state agencies and the businessmen linked to them. With and through them, it would maintain stability of the political and economic system (with lesser degrees of corruption).

On foreign policy, it fears clashing with the interests of any of the superpowers in the 'moderate axis,' making a return to Egypt’s foreign policy in the 1990s the aspired goal with a small margin of independence under the domination and acceptance of the Camp David regimen.

In the final analysis, this means that the rulers have abandoned the project for 'change' that their movements were based on and promised to the public, under the pretext of requirements for governance. If it continues, it means that, in the medium- to long-run, these movements and their project will be destroyed.

If the Brotherhood wants to sustain its 'project,' it needs to uphold it, even at the expense of governance. It must also challenge the compromises made by the incumbent political leadership, in the same way it would have objected to the powers that be if they were from outside the group.

At the same time, it needs to actively pursue the maturation of its project by relying on experts in various fields and honestly admitting to the people the mistake it made by claiming it has a ready-to-go comprehensive project for renaissance.

I have spoken my mind, and God is my witness.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

Jane Hamzeh
02-11-2012 10:30pm
Abandoning Islam is blaspheme
Abandoning Islam means giving Egypt to Israel on a silver platter.
Comment's Title

01-11-2012 09:28pm
the Ikhwan are condemned anyway
Abandoning Islam in favor odf Godless secularism or western style materialistic beastialism is totally unacceptable by the vast bulk of Egyptian Muslims. But this site is against the Ikhwan anyway. The Ikhwan are condemned as a matter of principle by some Zionist-minded Egyptians, especially Copts.
Comment's Title

01-11-2012 02:49pm
Current State ?
I would like to refer the author of this analysis to AO report on 25 Oct about the views expressed by psychiatrist Ahmed Okasha, head of the Egyptian Psychiatry Association during an interview with Al-Arabia news channel. He said the 'Abused' Brotherhood has become the 'abuser'. Okasha said that the collective conscience of the Egyptian people after January 25 Revolution was in a state of fragmentation and flux. "People now suffer from anxiety, fear, depression, and dealing with a vague future," Okasha said. This is very unfortunate and I do not think "brotherhoodisation" of the state was an objective of the Revolution, so if the Muslim Brotherhood government appears to abandon their Islamist political project, I think this is good news for this country! I mean no offence by my comments.
Comment's Title

01-11-2012 02:37pm
Well done ?
IF Egypt's new rulers have abandoned their Islamist political project, then I think this will be for the good of the country !!
Comment's Title
03-11-2012 12:03pm
We Muslims will never ever abandon Islam.
Abandoning Islam is the dearest wish and desire of the Zionists and the enemies of Egypt and the Copts. They are all haters of Islam, the Quran and the Prophet. Muslims will not abandon their soul, which is Islam.Karim you will have to wait for eternity before you see your wish fulfilled

31-10-2012 08:10pm
Not a nice word for the Brotherhood?
So, if the brotherhood are so un-Islamic, then the writer could join the Nasserites who tortured and persecuted his grandfather. This could also help him retain his writing job with this Nasserist site.
Comment's Title

31-10-2012 07:04pm
Great article.
Great article, it is quite refreshing. The middle paragraph “…..They are up against the challenge of governance which is accompanied by pressure from interest groups to maintain the status quo.” has the core problems. a. Parliamentary majority was erased by previous regime’s judges. Their decision was pure politics, in spite of the people interests. b.The prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, is here to stay to support criminals of past regime c. Ex-regime and foreign financed media that will do and say anything either bring Mubarak back, or kill the revelation. Some of the media experts have an on/off switches from licking Mubarak’s toes, into freedom fighters. in order for political Islam to succeed, it has to address these issues heads on, rather than playing nice.
Comment's Title
01-11-2012 01:12am
The Brotherhood in power: Change Governance skills and be firm and tough against destabilizing forces
Nora, very well said with good analysis and judgement. The foreign supported media to be put under the leash otherwise it will hinder progress of the country. Foreign NGOs should be vlosely monitored. In pre-election time the so called NGOs (NDI, IRI, and freedom house) and others try to influence the election by pumping the money illegally to the pressure groups. Abul Naga did a graet job to nab these illegal NGOs. The great problem is coming from miniscule minority Copts, and its money dependent Libs, secularists, activist, proterists. Like you said it is about time the Morsi government take strong and firm actions against the destablizing forces. it has to address these issues heads on, rather than playing nice.

© 2010 Ahram Online.