Brotherhood leader's call for 'peacefulness' sparks criticism

Zeinab El-Gundy , Monday 25 May 2015

Former Guidance Bureau spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan is believed to reside outside Egypt

Mahmoud Ghozlan
Mahmoud Ghozlan, former spokesperson of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau (Photo: Ahram)

Young members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation have criticised a call for "peacefulness" from an exiled senior organisation figure online, amid Egypt's ongoing crackdown on the 87-year-old Islamist movement.

"Peacefulness and the rejection of violence are among our constant values," Mahmoud Ghozlan, former spokesperson of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau wrote on Friday on pro-Brotherhood website Nafazat Misr. "Peacefulness is one of the reasons that the Muslim Brotherhood has survived for nearly 90 years."

Ghozlan asked Brotherhood members to continue on their peaceful course, until the "bloody coup" supported by "Zionist-Crusader countries" was brought down. 

This is the first statement from Ghozlan in two years, after he fled the country after the ouster of Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. 

Young Brotherhood members have slammed Ghozlan's comments on pro-Brotherhood websites and Facebook pages.

In an opinion article on Nafazat Misr, a user named Hamza Saeed slammed the leading figure and Sheikh Abdel Rahman El-Bar, the organisation's main mufti, for calling for peacefulness in resisting "the military coup", meaning Egypt's current government, and sticking to course of democratic change, when it had "failed". 

"How can you ask for peacefulness with the military coup's army, police and judiciary?" Saeed wrote. 

"The Muslim Brotherhood's leadership, that is now speaking of peacefulness, for a long time actually incited its members to violence, anger and revenge, turning their political conflict with the Egyptian state into a religious one," Ahmed Ban, an expert on Islamist movements, told Ahram Online, "so they are now paying the price."

According to Ban, the Brotherhood's leadership will now find it hard to sell "peacefulness" and "reconciliation" among its angry member base. 

Ghozlan is wanted in Egypt in relation to several cases.

His whereabouts are unknown, but some speculate that he is either in Qatar or in Turkey, like other leading members of the Brotherhood. 

Mahmoud Ghozlan's son Yehia was arrested in April 2015 at a protest at Cairo University, where he has been accused of inciting violence on several occasions.

Following Morsi's deposal, many top and middle-ranking Brotherhood members have been arrested in a huge crackdown, accused with inciting violence, murder and "terrorism".

The Egyptian government labelled the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist organisation" in 2013, and the administrative court disbanded its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, in April 2014.

Last week, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Morsi and 105 others to death in the 2011 "Wadi Natroun jailbreak" case. The sentence has been referred to Egypt's Grand Mufti, whose decision on whether or not to uphold the death sentences is non-binding.

In an official statement on Ikhwan Online after the ruling, the Muslim Brotherhood announced that the court's decision had increased popular anger and that the "coup" should expect "dark days" in which the Brotherhood would "save Egypt and its people from corruption and poverty."

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