Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood faces a split in its ranks in the wake of the army’s July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
A group of 1,400 Brotherhood members calling themselves “The Brotherhood Without Violence” is challenging the previously unquestioned leadership of Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie. It has called on Badie and members of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Office, which includes the Brotherhood’s senior leadership, to resign.
The faction hopes to reform the Brotherhood from within, the Egyptian newspaperAlmasry al-Youm reports, emphasizing the more tolerant teachings within Islam and the need for dialogue with non-Islamists.
“We temporarily revoked our pledge to show ‘blind obedience’ to the group’s leader and we call for a fresh reformist leadership to run the group and rescue its declining popularity,” the breakaway faction said in a statement last week, according to Gulf News.
The faction’s logo replaces the Brotherhood’s swords with olive branches and a flying dove bearing the Egyptian national flag.
“After [Morsi’s government] came to power, they changed and forgot about Islam and tolerance, and the call to Islam, and entered into a stage of how to protect themselves, find a safe exit and regain power,” Ahmed Yehia, “Brotherhood Without Violence” leader, told a popular liberal Egyptian satellite channel on Friday.
Yehia says his breaking point came on July 8, when 50 Brotherhood protesters and four soldiers were killed in a gun battle outside Egyptian Republican Guard headquarters. He holds Badie and the Brotherhood leadership responsible because they told Brotherhood sympathizers they had to get Morsi out with their own “body and blood.”
Gamal Abdel Gawad, a political science professor at the American University of Cairo,told NBC News that the “Brothers Without Violence” faction could transform the Brotherhood.
“It is beginning to be serious now,” Gawad said. “Critics are really vocal these days … people who have strong credentials within the organization, not the secular enemy. This kind of criticism is feeding into new feelings of disappointment among members and has taken the shape of [opposition] groups, beginning a long process of transformation [and] disintegration.”
Brotherhood figures, however, are dismissive of the “Brothers Without Violence” group, with one Brotherhood government minister calling them “imaginary.”