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Mohamed Al-Qasas

Egyptian Eelections Watch (Ahram Online and Jadaliyya) , Saturday 19 Nov 2011
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A former member of the influential Muslim Brotherhood (MB), MohamedAl-Qasas is one of the main founders of the Egyptian Current Party (Al-Tayyar Al-Masry). He is widely known for his prominent role within the MB’s youth wing, of which he was a leading member. After the revolution, Al-Qasas was one of the MB’s first activists to defy its leadership’s decision to forbid members from joining any political party other than the recently licensed Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Born in 1974, Mohamed Al-Qasas graduated from Al-Azhar Universitywith a degree in Arabic and Islamic studies. He currently works in the field of media production and manages his own production house.

Al-Qasas is presently a member of the Revolution’s Youth Coalition (RYC), which he entered initially as a representative of the MB youth wing. The MB later expelled him for co-founding and joining the Egyptian Current Party in defiance of the Brotherhood’s leadership. Al-Qasas, along with several other young MB-affiliated RYC members, also disobeyed MB leadership directives when they supported the RYC's decision to take part in mass demonstrations on 27 May, dubbed the “Second Revolution of Rage.” Shortly afterward, the MB officially stated that it had “no representatives” in the RYC.

Al-Qasas, along with other young MB members and several former and current affiliates of the April 6 youth movement, joined forces to establish the Egyptian Current Party. The party holds that Islam is only one element of a multiplicity of cultural identities that constitute contemporary Egyptian society.

Even before his expulsion from the MB, Al-Qasas had been a prominent supporter of greater dialogue between the country’s diverse political and ideological trends. As an MB member he was an advocate of increased cooperation between the group and non-Islamist political movements. He also played an important role in coordinating joint MB, nationalist, and leftist efforts.

 

Before the Revolution

Prior to the January 25 Revolution, Al-Qasas had been a leading member of the MB’s youth wing. He was politically active as a student at Cairo University, where he took part in demonstrations and marches. These varied from supporting the Palestinian national cause, opposing the U.S.-led wars on Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the trepidations of the Mubarak regime, and finally supporting civil rights and freedoms in Egypt.

Under the Mubarak regime, Al-Qasas was arrested four times for his political activity. Authorities first arrested him, along with other MB-affiliated students, in 1999 at Cairo University to prevent their organizing anti-Mubarak protests in the run-up to a national presidential referendum. He was again arrested in 2001 for demonstrating in solidarity with the Palestinian cause, after which he was detained for nine months together with twenty-two other MB members. Although Al-Qasas was later released, several of his colleagues received three to five year prison sentences.

He was arrested again in 2006 for demonstrating in solidarity with Egypt’s independent judiciary movement. A year later, he was arrested a fourth time in conjunction with the MB’s opposition to constitutional amendments introduced by the Mubarak regime with a view to facilitate the transfer of presidential authority to the president’s son, Gamal.

 

The Revolution and Beyond

Al-Qasas was an active participant in the January 25 Revolution since its outset. He was one of the main figures within the MB's youth wing who insisted on taking part in the burgeoning protests and encouraged other young MB members to participate in defiance of their leadership’s official decision not to take part.

The MB’s youth wing played a vital role in the eighteen-day uprising that culminated in Mubarak’s ouster. Due to their enviable levels of organization and discipline, young MB members distinguished themselves by protecting Tahrir Square protesters from Mubarak loyalist attacks.

During the course of the revolution, Al-Qasas became a member of the RYC. After Mubarak’s ouster, he violated the MB leadership’s decision not to participate in mass protests calling for the implementation of key revolutionary demands. In the “Second Revolution of Rage” on 27 May, Al-Qasas, along with other MB-affiliated RYC members, insisted on taking part in the protest despite the MB leadership’s unwavering stance to boycott.

The following day, the MB leadership declared that it had “no representatives” in the RYC. Less than two months later, Al-Qasas, along with several colleagues, was formally expelled from the MB.

According to the MB leadership, the young activists were expelled for taking part in the establishment of the Egyptian Current Party in defiance of group directives. Some former MB members, however, say the real reasons for the expulsions were more complex, noting that those expelled also included supporters of Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh. Aboul-Fotouh was a leading MB member who resigned from the group shortly after the revolution and has since declared his intention to run for president.

The MB has participated in Egypt's last two parliamentary elections. In 2005, it managed to capture an unprecedented eighty-eight seats in the People's Assembly, the legislature’s lower chamber, making it the largest opposition bloc in parliament.

The MB also participated in 2010 parliamentary polls, which were reportedly rigged in favor of Mubarak's ruling party, but withdrew from the second round after winning only one seat. At the time, the MB’s youth wing, in which Al-Qasas had been a leading member, played a major role in the group’s electoral campaigning.

Now a leading member of the Egyptian Current Party, Al-Qasas will run in upcoming parliamentary elections. He will contest a seat in Cairo’s Heliopolis district through the party list of “The Revolution Continues,” an electoral coalition that includes the Egyptian Current Party along with the RYC, the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Egypt Freedom Party, the Equality and Development Party and the Egyptian Alliance Party.

 

Fact Box

Born:1974

Political Orientation:Islamist

Occupation:Media producer 

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