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Muslim Brotherhood 2.0

Can younger leadership and re-branding bring the Muslim Brotherhood back into Egypt's good graces?
Last modified: 23 Aug 2013 20:09

With the bulk of its leaders either keeping a low profile underground or having been arrested, the Muslim Brotherhood - still the most cohesive element of the "anti-coup" movement opposing military - is struggling to get its bearings. 

Any group suffering such major setbacks as having the president it backed - Mohamed Morsi - deposed and having the status of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, reviewed, would be on shaky ground. 

But the Muslim Brotherhood is now operating in an openly hostile environment. Labelled as terrorists lead by foreign interests, the Ikhwan are not popular in Cairo. 

However, they continue to organise marches and protests on a daily basis, although it's clear that their tactics have changed. 

Mamdouh Farouq, project manager for a building facilities company, is a member of the group.

"The Muslim Brotherhood has a hierarchy, and after what happened to the leaders - most of them are arrested - now the youth are taking over the management of this organisation," said Farouq.

"We know that we made a lot of mistakes, and that our language, coming from the leaders in the past, was not right. So now we want to tell the people that we have a new brand, a new logo and a new language," he said.

"The mistake was that they talked about violence, like, if someone came against Morsi, we will take their blood ... but this is not our language. This is not what we want."

He also said that the new approach would focus less on a power grab and more on co-operating. It also did not see bringing Egypt under Sharia, or Islamic law, as "a must".

Indeed, this new approach was apparent in Friday's march that took off from Mohandeseen.

To start with, the march did everything possible to avoid confrontation. It changed its final destination three times - from Sphinx Square to a shooting club in Dokki to the National Research Centre.

In fact, when they received word that residents a few blocks from the National Research Centre had blocked the street, some with clubs, ready for a fight, the protest was dispersed immediately. This is a far cry from the movement that roughly two weeks ago was marching defiantly towards government buildings.

Also, there were hardly any photos of Morsi - among the hundreds of people who passed me by, I counted three. I also did not hear any pro-Morsi or Islamist chants, as I had heard at most other protests.

Instead, the logo of a hand holding up four fingers was the dominant theme. Rabaa Square was the site of one of the violently-cleared pro- Morsi vigils and "rabaa" means "fourth" in Arabic.

Farouq said that this move was a planned change. "It might be a little change, but it's telling the people that our case is not for President Morsi. It's only about democracy."

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