The local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood defied on Monday the decision of the group’s London-based international office to replace Mohamed Montaser with Taalat Fahmy as the group’s media spokesperson in Egypt.
One of the Brotherhood members in London said the intention to remove Montaser was “administrative”, as he opposed the “laws” and was interviewed by a Turkish news agency. In that interview, Montaser, who is younger than his potential replacement Fahmy, pointed to disagreement within the Brotherhood stemming from its attempts to accommodate a plurality of views across a generational divide, amongst others.
The dispute indicates a conflict in organisational structure as much as one in generation, as the two sides of the dispute can be tied to different locales: that led by Mahmoud Ezzat, the Deputy Supreme Guide of the group and based in Egypt, and that led by Ahmed Abdel Rahman, who is the head of the group’s international office.
As the international office announced the replacement, a number of Brotherhood entities, including the local branch, rejected the new appointment and asserted, in a statement released on Monday: “All administrative decisions are taken from the Higher Committee, [which is a part of the local branch] and no other institution or individuals in the group are allowed to take decisions.”
Local branches in Alexandria, Cairo, Beni Suef, and Qalyubia supported the Higher Committee’s decision and called for unity in preparation for planned January protests and to avoid division, which will “increase the punishment of the youth who are either chased, killed in the street, or dying in prisons.”
A source inside the Higher Committee, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “The only one who will benefit from the crisis is the current regime, which will capitalise on the dispute to further oppress the revolution.”
In addition, Montaser, who is going by a false name to avoid a crackdown by police authorities, called upon younger members of the group to “achieve their plan of saving their revolution and calling for retribution”.
Anas Hassan, one of the younger members of the Brotherhood, said “the London Brotherhood” is taking control of the international scene when it comes to the group’s affairs. He also accused the “London members” of only lobbying to keep the international status of the Brotherhood abroad as a peaceful group.
The Brotherhood has been facing a violent crackdown following the military ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Many of the group’s members and leaders are facing prison sentences, or are wanted by the regime.