Writing in al-Dustur, Salāh al-Dīn Hasan has some questions to ask of the Muslim Brotherhood: is the the Muslim Brotherhood group democratic? Does this democracy allow the group to change its members? Is the Muslim Brotherhood, like the ruling regime, which upholds democracy within such limits as would keep the situation unchanged?
Muhammad Jamāl Hishmat, a member of the Brotherhood, spoke frankly about democracy within the group. He said the group enjoys a great measure of freedom and democracy. But it has two trends: one reformist and the other conservative. The latter seeks to curtail the group’s democracy on the pretext that the Egyptian regime and its security forces keep an eye on them.
Muhammad Sa‘d al-Katātnī, a key leader in the group’s guidance bureau, said the group’s elections were held electronically, as all members had not come together in one place.
There is democracy within the group, he said, but security pressures delayed the election of leaders. He said the group had asked the regime to allow it to hold elections for the group’s Shūrá council and the guidance bureau in a public place, or a hotel, but the regime had refused this. Once the regime knows that the group will hold elections for its top posts, it launches a detention campaign.
The group is seriously concerned over intervention by the security services in its organizational meetings, al-Katātnī said. It has a right to protect its leaders. He had no objection, he added, to holding the group’s coming elections electronically as had happened with the last elections.
Brotherhood members, he said, consult with each other, but the final say is with the group’s conservatives.
Mukhtār Nūh, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, said he would not comment on this issue because it could harm the group, which is actually in the throes of a crisis. He said that the Muslim Brotherhood is a reformist group, which aims to establish a sound social and political system.
Mahmūd ‘Izzat, who is responsible for the group’s preaching and education department, said the group thinks that democracy means consultation. Secularists, he said, consider consultation naive and that politics means tricks and personal interests. The Brotherhood, however, acts in good faith.
Speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elections and democracy, the political researcher, Khalīl ‘Anānī, said the group’s elections added up to semi-appointments as the conservatives still controlled the group’s ’political kitchen’. In accordance with the group’s internal regulations, its shūrá council is supposed to be responsible for the group’s organizational and political performance. The Muslim Brotherhood should have dismantled the council as the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan did following their poor performance in the 2007 elections. The Muslim Brotherhood should admit its mistakes of the past two years. It should also amend its internal regulations to be more open and dynamic in a way that allows for real democracy.