Muslim Sisterhood holds first conference in 60 years

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By Tamim Elyan

CAIRO: Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders at a conference on Saturday said that the group’s main priority in the coming period is to establish a government that “refers to Islam in all its affairs” and forming coalitions to rebuild the country.

During the first general Muslim Sisterhood conference in 60 years, MB leaders said that it is the responsibility of all Egyptians across the political spectrum to contribute towards Egypt’s renaissance and that their role is only to shape and spread the idea.

“We now have a political vacuum and we have to build the political system of the country … then there will be eight years of transition followed by 30 years during which we will rebuild the country,” said Khairat Al-Shater, deputy leader of the MB.

The MB said there will be a bigger role for women inside the group and that they have the biggest representation of women among all political groups.

“No one can deny women’s role in the success of the revolution whether with their participation or supporting their husbands and sons,” said the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badei.

“The role of women in this critical moment is as important as their role in supporting the revolution,” he added.

According to Al-Shater, the group is conducting a survey to decide whether to integrate women in leadership positions inside the group.

“In the past, we wanted to protect women from security crackdowns and so we distanced them from leadership positions, but now, there will be no barriers for women’s participation in political life except religious ones,” he said.

“There is also the problem of culture and to what extent Egyptians will accept women’s participation, so we are conducting this survey and we are ready to change whatever bylaws necessary,” Al-Shater said.

The conference titled “Women from Revolution to Renaissance” saw huge participation from MB women including the granddaughters of Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the group, and the wives of the group’s leaders.

“Since the establishment of the sisterhood organization inside the group and women have been actively participating in preaching as well as in public life as teachers and doctors,” said Aida Saad, head of the education committee in the Muslim Sisterhood.

“We participated in elections although the ousted regime prevented us from winning and we participated at international conferences as well as charity and societal work,” she added.

The conference was attended by Mahmoud Ezzat, the deputy leader of the MB, and Mahmoud Hussein, secretary general as well as member of the guidance office.

Al-Shater said that dissenting youth who started their own political party are no more part of the MB regardless of any administrative decisions, since they took a different route.

He welcomed talks with the United States to exchange opinions and refuted statements that the US aims to cause rifts between the MB and other national political currents.

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