CAIRO: Former Muslim Brotherhood member Ali Abdel-Hafeez, who left the group in a storm of controversy last year, has labeled Islamist movements “perversions that lead to divisions rather than solutions.
“Islamist movements are perversions that stunt creativity and growth, he told Daily News Egypt.
He is now attempting to create a new group called Tayar Al-Badeel (The Alternative Movement).
Abdel-Hafeez was a long-term member of the outlawed religious group, but left after a schism emerged as a result his revisionist ideas.
“We had a revision of ideas from the young members of the group, Abdel-Hafeez told Daily News Egypt. “We posed questions which they didn’t want to be asked. The division emerged because of what was considered Islamist and what wasn’t. We wondered why society should be split like this.
Abdel-Hafeez penned a book with the same title as his proposed group, in which he criticized the Muslim Brotherhood and the tack it took with its infamous slogan “Islam is the solution.
He said, “We offered [the Brotherhood leadership] a clear 20-page program, not a slogan. Do we tell people Islam is the solution, or do we tell them justice is the solution, democracy is the solution?
“Egypt doesn’t suffer from a problem in Islam, or a lack of it. We will not create a new Islam, it already exists, Abdel-Hafeez continued, “the deterioration of our civilization comes from technological regression, which has nothing to do with Islam.
He also posited the question that if the Brotherhood had appropriated itself as the sole carrier of the Islamic banner, where did that leave other Muslims?
“Why isn’t it called the Egyptian Brotherhood? he asked.
Abdel-Hafeez was once imprisoned with Deputy Supreme Guide of the group Mohamed Habib.
Muslim Brotherhood member and parliamentarian Hamdy Hassan refused to comment at length on the schism or the new movement, telling Daily News Egypt “May God grant him success.
“He keeps leaving one group to form another, Hassan said, “so we can see the chain. All I will say is may God grant him success.
Expert on Islamic movements at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Amr El Chobaki told Daily News Egypt that he didn’t anticipate much success for the Alternative Movement.
“The same thing happened 12 years ago with Al-Wasat party, there isn’t a suitable environment currently for movements like Al-Badeel. Revisionist movements don’t have a future in this country, El Chobaki said.
The ideas of Abdel-Hafeez and his colleagues certainly fall under that classification.
“Consensus in society is civil, not religious, Abdel-Hafeez said, “the Prophet’s government was a civil government and so was the government of those who followed him until it became illegitimate with the rule of Muawiyah Ibn Sufyan, akin to a dictatorship. And how is a government legitimate? Because the people want it.
“The West has achieved this [through democracy], so instead of judging them and berating them we should learn from them, he added.
However, according to El Chobaki, because the new group still has a religious base, it will not prosper. “The government considers Islamic movements a matter of security, so they will not allow them to thrive, he said.
And he did not believe that it would affect the hugely popular Muslim Brotherhood either, saying that “it will not have much of an impact on the Brotherhood, I don’t expect this group to go beyond a number of individuals.
“Where are we going as an Islamic movement and what are we trying to achieve? Abdel-Hafeez queried. “Are we going to track down everyone to see if they pray five times a day?
“These are valid questions, but the Brotherhood told us it was illegal to ask them and they interrogated us, he added.