Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Muhammad Mahdi Akif, general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, told declared to Asharq Al-Awsat that, “The stance of the group toward women’s rights, and toward religious freedom and tolerance are the same stance stipulated by Islam, and I challenge anyone to give an example of a system, a civilization, or a culture that has honored women as Islam does. The same applies to religious freedom and tolerance.”
The Muslim Brotherhood general guide also emphasized that, “In all its decisions and stances, the group follows the principle of Shura. Moreover, all the institutions of the group are formed through elections from the grassroots to the top.”
“The course of the Muslim Brotherhood is very clear to the young and the old. I wish that those who talk about ‘split’ or ‘division’ would talk about the injustice imposed on the Muslim Brotherhood.” He describes these reports as “idle talk that does not affect us.” Akif added.
Prominent Muslim Brotherhood member, Dr. Isam al-Iryan added that, “The Muslim Brotherhood is open for all Muslims, provided that they adhere to its internal rules and controls. The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that includes several generations, nearly eight generations, and not only the young and the old. Moreover, it is a group that is ideologically open, and allows diversity of viewpoints. Diversity does not lead to splits, especially as it (the Muslim Brotherhood) does not decide the jurisprudence options except with regard to the necessities on which actions are based, such as the political pluralism.”
Al-Iryan underscored that as far as the group is concerned, women’s rights are settled in favor of women, i.e. a woman has all the rights – this is indisputable – except the issue of the presidency of the state, which is not settled yet, and about which there are various opinions within the Muslim Brotherhood.
As for the principle of tolerance toward the others and religious freedom, they have been two of the original principles of the Muslim Brotherhood since the inception of the group until now. As far as we are concerned, the origin is that “there is no coercion in religion,” and there is no dispute over this principle within the group.
With regard to the stance of the group toward the west, and the extent of its pursuit of whether or not to be acceptable to the west, Dr Isam al-Iryan told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The Muslim Brotherhood does not pursue this; on the contrary, we are against the principle of western acceptance of any Arab or Islamic side, because this acceptance comes at the expense of our causes, and is coupled with our conceding of some of our original rights.”
“Our prime concern is our popular acceptance, and this has been achieved to a large extent. It is absolutely futile for us to be accepted in the west, if we are rejected by the people.” Al-Iryan added.
Al-Iryan concluded by saying that the Muslim Brotherhood does not want to be like the ruling regimes that enjoy the acceptance of the west, but face a popular rejection.