CAIRO: Muslim Brotherhood member Khaled Dawood filed a complaint to the prosecutor general against the spokesman of the group’s parliamentary bloc, Hamdy Hassan, accusing him of libel and slander, in an unprecedented escalation of an internal conflict.
Hassan had accused Dawood of financial violations without giving details and stated that this was the reason Dawood was excluded from the Brotherhood.
Dawood told Daily News Egypt that he had spoken to members of the MB Guidance Office about the matter and demanded his name and reputation be cleared before heading to the public prosecution office, but to no avail.
“No one from the Guidance Office did anything to clear my name,” Dawood told Daily News Egypt, “And [Hamdy Hassan] reiterated what he said and refused to apologize.”
Hassan on the other hand told Daily News Egypt that Dawood “has every right to file a complaint” against him, but that he has closed this case.
Dawood added that, “We, the MB reformers have called many times for the establishment of a judicial body within the group to resolve these issues internally, but our calls went unanswered.”
Saad Al-Hosseiny, executive member of the MB Guidance Office and MP, told Daily News Egypt, “We as a group have nothing to do with [Dawood’s and Hassan’s] behavior.”
Al-Hosseiny said that Dawood has not been an active member of the Brotherhood in around 15 years.
“He hasn’t attended our meetings or participated in our ballots or elections. We haven’t even seen him for around 15 years,” Al-Hosseiny said.
“I’m not saying this to belittle or disrespect him in any way, but even if he follows the Brotherhood’s ideology, without actively participating in the group’s activities for any reason, we can’t consider him an active member.”
However, Dawood stressed to Daily News Egypt that he is a member of the Brotherhood.
“This is the first time something like this has happened within the Brotherhood in 30 years,” Hossam Tammam, a researcher in Islamist movements, told Daily News Egypt.
“This is the first time an internal dispute among the Brotherhood is publicly discussed rather than managed behind closed doors,” he added.
The public feud highlighted divisions among the group, which may take a toll on their representation in the upcoming PA elections.
In 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats of the 444 seats, making it the biggest opposition bloc in parliament, which is dominated by members of the ruling National Democratic Party.
“In the 2005 elections, the Brotherhood unanimously agreed on contesting in the elections; they won’t have this [unanimity] this year,” Tammam said.
“There’s a sense of uncertainty and lethargy within many sectors of the Brotherhood this year which will definitely have a negative affect on their participation in the elections,” he added.
History has portrayed the Brotherhood as a harmonious united group with one direction and one decision, Tammam said, and that’s how the public has viewed the MB until this feud.
The feud started when “the MB Opposition Front,” including Dawood, issued a statement titled “Boycott it for Egypt” two weeks ago urging the group to boycott the PA elections in November.
The Front stated that participating in the elections would legitimize the government’s stance in elections which they say have already been rigged to nominate winners handpicked by the regime.
The statement started a war of words and accusations between supporters of the boycott and other Brotherhood members.
“Their opinion is respectable and they have their justifications,” head of the Brotherhood bloc in parliament, Saad El-Katatni, told Daily News Egypt. “But in the end there are certain institutions in the Brotherhood that make the final decision and that decision is binding on all Brotherhood members.”
The Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei announced on Oct. 9 that the group will participate in the coming elections ignoring calls for the boycott.
According to Badei, the decision was based on the vote of 98 percent of the Brotherhood Shoura Council members.
However, some Brotherhood members questioned the legitimacy of the council.
MB member Haitham Abu Khalil, an outspoken advocate of boycotting the elections, wrote in an article — titled “Even the Brotherhood … 98 percent” and published in Al-Masry Al-Youm on Oct. 11 — that he was astonished with the high percentage that voted for contesting the elections, citing it as an “abnormal” percentage in comparison to the outcome of polls and elections around the world.
“The 98 percent clearly exposes the structure of the Brotherhood Shoura Council following the Brotherhood’s last elections,” he said.
The 2009 internal elections of the MB Guidance Office highlighted wide ideological divisions among the group’s younger generation and the older, more conservative one, which dominated the polls.
“The tendentious and confused few, who have agendas that disagree with the [Brotherhood Shoura Council] have been excluded, leaving only those who have one direction and one path,” Abu Khalil said.
Abu Khalil even went as far as comparing the council to the National Democratic Party that usually receives an unrealistic percentage of votes in its favor in the elections.
Mohamed Habib, member of the Brotherhood Shoura Council, stated that the council never convened to vote on whether to participate in the coming PA election, describing the 98 percent of votes as “ludicrous.”
“The Brotherhood Shoura Council hasn’t convened since 1995,” Habib told Daily News Egypt.
“To say that this percentage was based on the majority of votes from the Brotherhood Shoura Council is not true; they merely took the opinions of certain individuals,” he added.
El-Katatni disagreed. “The Brotherhood Shoura Council is a reputable institution and all the MB members respect it.”