Pushing back Political Islam and reconciliation

Sent On: 
Tue, 2014-09-09
Newsletter Number: 

AWR, Cairo, September 9, 2014


Minister of Endowments, Mohammed Mokhtar Goma’a [Muhammad Mukhtār Jum’ah], gave an important interview to al-Watan about the efforts of the state to push back the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our researcher Yosra El Gendi summarized this interview for Arab-West Report.


The Minister explained that state policy emphasizes that “religion is not mixed with politics, nor any politicization of religion [should] takes place, nor that religion is used to attack institutions.” These elements are currently regulated in the so-called Preaching Law. The Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to a substantial number of Salafī sheikhs, mixed religious and politics. According to the Minister, currently “no one is excluded from preaching just because of his affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafīs,” however, preachers with such affiliations “are put under examination and scrutiny.” The ministry has, for example, “given six people from the Da’wah al- Salafīah preaching licenses.” These men are graduates from al-Azhar and do not work in politics.



The Minister sees a problem with organizations that are infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, the Jam'iah al – Shar’iah. The Minister finds the social activities of this NGO to be positive, but “if the Jam'iah wants to engage in national cohesion, it must cleanse itself of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Board of Directors and its subsidiaries.” As an example, the minister mentions Dr. Tal’at ‘Afīfī, the former Minister of Endowments of the Muslim Brotherhood era, who is still a member of its Jam'iah al – Shar’iah’s Board of Directors and who is seen as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood.


Minister Jum’ah wants to push back the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafīs. When he took over, the Ministry of Endowments had authority over around 30% of Egypt’s mosques. Meanwhile, the rest remain under control of the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamic political groups and associations. The aim of the control of the Ministry is to push back the mobilization of religion for political action.


Pushing back the influence of political Islam should, the Minister said, not be seen as restraining freedom of expression. "We cannot ban a writer or thinker or an intellectual, to monitor developments, analyze and present his vision, and this is the right of every person. But how to develop a religious discourse and to correct misconceptions about Islam, and disseminate correct thought and fight militancy and lawlessness, this is largely the religious establishment’s role.”


He stated that he did not expect the Muslim Brotherhood to be “violent, criminal, extremist and destructive to that degree.”


Does this make reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood possible?


"Calls for reconciliation by the Brotherhood or their associates at this time, is only a maneuver to gain support. For them who want reconciliation, [they] must stop the violence, apologize for what they did, and respect the judicial rulings pertaining to those who have blood on their hands.” The Minister sees "a division of roles, there is a team that kills, destroys, sabotages, carries guns, incited by Qatar, conspiring from Libya, mobilizing the international organization in Turkey, and [which] is allied with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, as well as another team that is dressed like crocodiles and maneuvers in the manner of foxes […] calling themselves patriotic and calling for reconciliation in an attempt to deceive the people.”


The Minister is not opposed to the principle of reconciliation, but previous attempts were made before their downfall and their response “made all attempts fail. I am not aware of any current attempts at reconciliation.”

This is sad because Muslim Brothers represents a good part of Egypt’s electorate, however, there is much distrust and it will need much work and compromises to repair the broken distrust.



Cornelis Hulsman

Editor-in-chief Arab-West Report