CAIRO: In another move to further expand their outreach to the public, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, created a social networking website, Ikhwanbook, equivalent to the popular Facebook.
The aim of IkhwanBook is to “share your life with other Muslim brothers around the world,” as stated on the group’s official website, adding that the site wants to promote the concept of moderate Islam and to provide a forum forfree discussions.
This is not the first time the Muslim Brotherhood has created its own version of internationally recognized website. Websites such as IkhwanWiki, IkhwanGoogle and Ikhwantube are among its creations.
However, Ikhwanbook is concerned with concepts such as privacy, security and decency, which have often come into question on Facebook, which has attracted more than 400 million users worldwide.
In relation to decency, Muslim Brotherhood members said they are against groups and discussions that are offensive to Islam, citing the group created calling to mark May 20 as “Draw Mohammed Day” eliciting caricatures of the Muslim Prophet, which has attracted 81,306 fans.
For Muslim Brotherhood MP Abdel Fattah Hassan, also a member of the PA’s culture committee, creating the social networking website is part of “taking action” against those who attack Islam.
“What has been evident is that the [West] is ignorant of Islam therefore we need reach out to them and teach them that Islam is a religion of tolerance and mercy and show the proper behavior of a Muslim so that they would be informed about the religion, and this is simply one forum for this and its building on an already successful medium,” he explained.
“I think that it’s important that we have channels which are not contradictory to the original Facebook but which are parallel to it,” Ahmed Said, an engineer and a member of the Brotherhood’s media development team, said in a press statement.
“We will not be isolated. Many groups have their own social network on the net. The name is Ikhwan, but it is not limited to Ikhwan. It is open to everyone,” he added.
Just like Facebook, Ikhwanbook members create profiles which they can customize by uploading pictures, list their interests and hobbies, etc.
Following in Facebook’s steps, members can also upload photos and videos and post blogs. Furthermore, they can create groups, events, polls and make announcements.
‘Featured Members’ who are the most popular members of Ikhwanbook, whom you can find through the Friend Finder option, come from an interesting variety of countries including Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Indoesia, Nigeria, Oman and Morocco.
The most popular groups on Ikhwanbook discuss social topics such as “Reviving the Arabic Language” and “Muslims in Chechnya” – which discusses life in Chechnya, its traditions and culture.
Once you log on to the website, a banner pops up telling you to “Support Change” and sign the petition by the National Association for Change.
But who is attracted to Ikhwanbook?
Ahmed Osman, a 30-year-old from Sudan, has been a member of Ikhwanbook for almost one month now and is active on the website, usually chatting with other members.
“I just saw that there are a lot of enemies who hate Islam, and actually every non-Muslim almost became a potential enemy, so I want to know how Muslims think and whether this problem comes from the way Muslims think or it is the west media,” he said.
“No one can deny that Islam is targeted right now but does this problem lie in Islam? Of course not. It is in our perception and understanding of Islam or just a campaign by the West, and so I’ve joined Ikhwanbook to find out,” said Osman, who is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but, as he puts it, “someone who is very protective of Islam.”
Osman pointed out that he is not concerned with matters related to security as he is not offending anyone.
While Osman was attracted to the website even though he is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, other internet users might not necessarily follow suit.
“Why should I join a social network associated with [the Muslim Brotherhood] when I don’t conform with their ideology and the ideas they are promoting,” said a 23-year-old banker who preferred to remain anonymous.
“Learning about them is one thing I’m keen on but joining Ikhwanbook will be following them which is something I don’t want to do,” he added.