By Said Temsamani
Morocco World News
Washington, June 29, 2013
On January 31, Jamal al-Banna, brother of Hasan al-Bana and one of the leading critics of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, passed away quietly. Al-Banna was a sponsor of the Egyptian labor movement in the nineteen-fifties and author of more than a hundred books on philosophy and Islamic thought. Those who often visited him in his bright Cairo apartment, crammed with books, said that over the last two years, he was very worried by the rise to power of those who felt that they had appropriated and misinterpreted the legacy of his famous brother.
“A common threat to the revolution is the danger of replicating the ousted regime’s authoritarian vices.” In his last interview given this past October to the pro inter-religious dialogue Arab West Report Egyptian, Jamal al-Bana lashed out harshly against the policies of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, one of the most influential members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and was particularly critical of the decree adopted in August 2012 that concentrated all powers in the hand of the president, both legislative and executive.
The scholar, considered liberal, insisted that if his brother had not been assassinated in 1948, he would have prevented the radicalization that followed the failed assassination attempt on Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954 and would have prevented further development and strengthening of the so-called underground apparatus, which came after the armed extremist movements.
“They should go back and pursue his obligation: indoctrinate people,” before admission through a a controversial ancient practice that has accompanied the Muslim Brotherhood almost since its founding in 1928, and 84 years later still burns and an internal debate that divides one the most influential Islamic organizations in this century: whether to achieve political power first and then Islamize society from above, or vice versa, educate and rule later.
Al Banna, as other Eastern and Western thinkers, was aware that one of the challenges common to all revolutions was to ensure victory in a time of uncertainty, and whether to cling to the immediate past and replicate vices of those regimes which had been overthrown.
This happened, for example, in Iran in 1979. The need for a repressive force to temper the waters, intimidate opponents and neutralize any attempt at counter-revolution, lead the Ayatollah to support the use of armed power in committees and radical groups who entered the state security apparatus and in short time became a force as cruel as the ruthless secret police (SAVAK) that defended the Shah.
Radical elements of the Brothers have infiltrated the state security structure in Egypt and in Tunisia. The bloody events in Cairo, including the attack on Hamada Saber at the hands of a group of uniformed men, filmed and released on television, have returned to the streets, a concern that is whispered with growing unrest in all corners and squares: the quiet, steady infiltration of radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood into the security structure of the country, both in the police and in the powerful national army. Also into the still feared secret services, where former members of the brotherhood’s clandestine apparatus are reported to have infiltrated, according to several local groups-hogging positions.
As in Egypt, this infiltration has also added pressure and uncertainty in Tunisia, also immersed in a turbulent process of change that began in 2011 as a hopeful spring but two years later seems stuck in the harshness of winter steppe. Hounded by the liberal-secular movements that demand real transformation, bluntly, and harassed by radical groups-mostly Salafis, but also fanatical elements within their own organizations.
The moderate governments of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunis navigate on troubled waters, clinging to a rudder unstable and without a clear view of the shore. The assassination of the leader of the Tunisian opposition Chokri Belaid, reminiscent of the dark days of the dictatorship of Mubarak and Ben Ali, shows that the road is still long and rocky for societies which strongly multiply those apostles of intransigence.
Said Temsamani, Senior Fellow at the Meridian International Center and former Senior Political Advisor, US Embassy, Morocco. Member of the National Press Club, Washington DC.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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