Ex-Brotherhood figures to form new group devoted to preaching

Ahram Online, Thursday 10 Jan 2013

Former leading members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood announce plans to form parallel apolitical body devoted exclusively to education and preaching

Kamal El-Helbawi
Ex-Brotherhood figures Kamal El-Helbawi (Photo: Al-Ahram)

A group of former Muslim Brotherhood members who resigned or were disaffiliated from the group plan to set up a new 'parallel' association to the Brotherhood, the group from which Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi hails. The new association will focus primarily on education and Islamic preaching rather than political activism.

Initially dubbed 'the Revival, Building and Development Association,' the organisation is expected to include a number of former Brotherhood officials, not least of whom are: former Brotherhood spokesman in Europe Kamal El-Helbawy; former group supreme deputy guide Mohamed Habib; former leading group figures Mokhtar Nouh and Mahmoud Basiouny; and a number of young former Brotherhood members.

"The new association will concentrate on preaching and education. It will not be engaged in politics," said El-Helbawy.

Last March, El-Helbawy formally resigned from the Brotherhood, to which he had belonged for close to six decades, on live television after Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie announced that the organisation would nominate group number-two Khairat El-Shater to run in Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential elections.

Later, El-Helbawy declared that he was not happy with the Brotherhood's leadership.

"I didn't resign only because of El-Shater's nomination," he said. "I did so because the group's leadership was wavering and indecisive."

El-Helbawy also attributed his resignation to the fact that "the Brotherhood's educational and preaching activities have slipped way below the standards that were initially set."

"If the Brotherhood continues to focus on politics and lose sight of its preaching activities, which is the case now, the group will lose its edge both in politics and preaching," El-Helbawy told Ahram Online in a November interview.

In the immediate aftermath of Egypt's 25 January 2011 revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood, which began as a social-religious organisation, founded the Freedom and Justice Party.

El-Helbawy noted that most founding members of the new association supported the Strong Egypt Party and its leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, a former presidential candidate and one-time Brotherhood member.

When previously asked about the reasons for his resignation, El-Helbawy cited the Brotherhood's 'unjustified and immoral' attack on Abul-Fotouh for the latter's insistence on contesting the presidency while fielding its own candidate.

"The association will direct special attention to Islamic preaching, which has been largely abandoned by the Muslim Brotherhood," said Mohamed Habib, who left the group in 2011. "Its primary aim will be to develop Egyptian society."

Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein, for his part, asserted that his group still gave considerable attention to both education and preaching, but that "the media is only interested in politics."

Meanwhile, Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Ghozlan ruled out any rivalry – or cooperation – between his group and the yet-to-be-formed parallel association.

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