08 January, 2009

Muslim Brotherhood calls for "Friday of wrath"

Maybe fighting Sufi philosophy isn't the only thing on the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda right now after all. Mohamed Mehdi Akef, supreme guide of the movement, has called for Friday to be a day of mass anger against the Israeli aggression, demanding concrete action from of Arab regimes - especially Egypt - to support the Palestinian people. I don't know what will come out of this though. An attempt to organize protests outside mosques in downtown Cairo last week was met by violent repression, and three days later very few MB supporters showed up at a demonstration called for in Tahrir Square.

The reality is that in order to actually change Egypt's policies against Hamas and Israel, it would take protests on a scale that threatened the stability of the regime. And this is clearly something the MB leadership does not desire, even if they were capable of doing it. After all, we are talking about a reformist movement whose leaders fear the explosive potential of popular protests on a massive scale, and didn't mobilize their supporters even when several of its leaders were sentenced to long prison terms in a military court last May.

The inner tensions of a movement like the MB will always make its behaviour contradictory and unpredictable. Leading members have a lot to loose: they can have their financial assets frozen or even be sent to military courts and jailed. On the other hand, many MB supporters is clearly willing to risk being beaten up in the streets or arrested in order to express their anger against what's happening in Gaza. And despite the constant attempts of MB functionaries to stop them, many were happy to join the "Down with Mubarak" chants initiated by socialist and other activists at last week's demonstrations.

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