CAIRO: Head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc Saad Al-Katatny, has announced that the group will only participate in any protest called for by opposition forces under four conditions.
“We will not participate in any protest unless those four conditions are fulfilled: there is agreement among all the political forces on the protest; there is a unified agenda; a precise time, and the results of the protest are known in advance, said Al-Katatny during a seminar Tuesday at the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo titled “Protests between Chaos and Influence.
“This will guarantee the success of any national strike without chaos or problems, he said.
The lecture comes one week ahead of a May 4 general strike initiated on Facebook to coincide with President Hosni Mubarak’s birthday. The social networking site’s group, which had previously promoted the April 6 strike, has been joined by over 73,000 members to date. A separate group promoting the May 4 strike has been joined by over 20,000 members.
The citizens organizing the strike had outlined a list of three basic demands: setting a minimum wage and tying wages to inflation and the increased cost of living; outlining proper policies to cap price hikes and eliminating monopolistic practices; and the release of all political detainees.
The group encourages people around the country through text messages and emails to express their disgruntlement in various ways, such as staying home from work, avoiding shopping for three days, wearing black clothes and hanging the Egyptian flag from windows and balconies. It does not, however, call for holding public protests or demonstrations.
The Muslim Brotherhood had publicly announced that it would not participate in the April 6 strike.
“We were offered by some groups considered illegal by the government, such as Kefaya and Al-Karama party, to join the April 6 strike .but when we did not receive any answer on whether they met the four conditions we refused to participate.
Amr Al-Choubaki, political analyst in Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies who attended the lecture said that he agreed with the Brotherhood on their decision not to participate in general strikes. “But I do not agree with their lack of participation in protests organized by certain sectors like the university professors, he said.
Al-Choubaki said that “it is preferable that general strikes like April 6 take place without being supported by specific political currents or entities that might take the blame for them and have to pay the price.
He added that since the beginning of 2008, Egypt has witnessed around 900 protests. He expects this number to double in the coming period, which “will be one of the factors to change the political equation in Egypt.
“These protests are a reflection of the current political situation, which is marked by chaos, he said.
Khalil Al-Anani, an expert on political Islam, told Daily News Egypt, that the “Brotherhood’s stance vis-a-vis the protests is logical as they fear any conflict between them and the government. That is why they put what they call ‘conditions’ that cannot be practically implemented, yet will enhance their image in public opinion, which suffered due to their absence in protests.
He believes that they have the right to know in advance which political entity is organizing those protests and their consequences before participating in them.
“The Brotherhood has always been known for being an organized political entity that does not make any move without making its calculations, said Al-Anani.
By placing such conditions, he continued, they were able to achieve two things: firstly, to let the public know why they are not participating in the protests; and secondly, to threw the ball in the organizers’ court to force them to appear in the public sphere with a set agenda to gain the group’s support.
Like Al-Choubaki, Al-Anani criticized the group’s lack of support for smaller lobby groups like the university professors, describing their stance as “negative .
“This attitude created a gap between the group and the public, Al-Anani said, adding that “they have been focusing mainly on their internal problems, which drove them away from participating with the public and sharing their problems.