Hard-liners in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood dig in amid calls from youth for reform.
The Middle East’s most powerful Islamic political movement is undergoing a leadership struggle as young, more moderate activists try to push the Muslim Brotherhood to soften its fundamentalist ideology and become a more democratic force.
Young Brotherhood moderates say it needs to become a more open and modern political movement if it is going to survive. Some want to imitate Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, an Islamic-rooted party that has embraced mainstream politics. The young critics contend the Brotherhood’s old guard is holding it back.
“Those in charge aren’t connected with today’s world,” Abdelmonem Mahmoud, a journalist and blogger, told The Associated Press.
Mahmoud, once a prominent spokesman for Brotherhood youth who was jailed several times for being part of the movement, said he froze his membership a year ago because of repeated intellectual clashes with the conservative leadership.
Several others have done the same. Mahmoud said that while it wasn’t an organized exodus, if the leaders didn’t start to pay attention to the younger generation, the Brotherhood would begin to lose many of its “open-minded” members.
“Their thirst for change is not sated by the Brotherhood, so they look for it elsewhere,” he said.
But conservatives are digging in. While some urban youth push to liberalize the Brotherhood, its large rural membership has become more hardline in recent years.