Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- In a break with tradition, Muslim Brotherhood candidates in Egypt ’s upcoming parliamentary elections were instructed to include the name of the organization in all their campaign literature and speeches instead of the old slogan “Islamic Current”, according to informed sources.
It will be the first time in over fifteen years that the Muslim Brotherhood displays its name in public spaces as previously, other names were used instead, to avoid a police crackdown. The Muslim Brotherhood is not recognized by the government and has been banned since 1954. To circumspect the ban, leaders have used “the Islamic Current” instead to indicate their organization and distinguish themselves from other Islamist groups such as the Salafis, Islamic Jihad, and Gamaa Isalmiya.
Next month’s parliamentary elections will see the Brotherhood field 150 candidates out of a total of 444 seats up fro grab.
According to the sources, the group’s general guidance bureau allowed each candidate to use a number of slogans they see fit in addition to the general election motto “Islam in the answer” signed by “The Muslim Brotherhood”.
Such turnaround has been caused by the political atmosphere in Egypt and internationally which has given the Brotherhood room to act as the government is no9 longer capable to crack down on its members as in the past, especially as the government media, including television and newspapers, have discussed the standing of Muslim Brotherhood in the last two months, contrary to the past, and only rarely described it as banned.
In the November elections, the Muslim Brotherhood intends to continue its longstanding policy of not fielding candidates for seats where ministers and government officials are standing and were other politicians and party leaders enjoy popular support, such as speaker of parliament Dr. Fathi Sorour in the Sayyida Zeinab constituency, Dr. Zakaria Azmi, chief of the presidential cabinet and al Zeitoun MP, Kamal al Shazili, Minister of State for People Assembly (Parliament) Affairs and representative of al Bajour district, in the Delta region. The group has also announced that it will withdraw its candidates for seats contested by other popular politicians.
This is aimed at evading confrontation with the government and building good relations with other political forces. However, the Muslim Brotherhood declined to withdraw its candidate in the al Duqqi district in Giza province which Yahya al Gamal, a former minister and popular opposition candidate demanded. The group justified its actions by saying his request was too late after it had announced the lawyer Hazem Salah Abu Ismail as its candidate for the seat and started campaigning on his behalf. The Brotherhood also refused the request of Islamist lawyer Muntaser al Zayat to withdraw its candidate for the Bulaq al Dakrur seat because he was too late.
Mohammed Ali Bashr, member of the general guidance bureau, indicated he intended to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Shebeen district, in the Menoufiya province against Amin Mubarak, President Hosni Mubarak’s cousin. The constituency includes the village of Kafr al Meselha , the President’s birthplace.
In total, two members of the guidance bureau will be up for election, after Dr. Mohammed al Mursi, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in the People’s Assembly (parliament) confirmed his candidature. Most members of the bureau have so far shied away from taking part in the election fearing a loss would affect the group’s standing.
Meanwhile, sources in the Muslim Brotherhood have revealed that the organization has failed to persuade a number of female cadres to take part in the elections, with the exception of Dr. Makarem al Dayri, widow of secretary general Ibrahim Sharaf who is standing in Nasr city, east of Cairo. Jihan al Halfawi, former candidate in al Ramel constituency, which causes controversy when elections were postponed for two years and then held in 2002 amidst accusations of security services involvement, will not take part.