Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to name new conservative leader Mohamed Badie
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is expected to name Mohamed Badie as its new Supreme Guide on Saturday – a move that could alienate reformists and stymie their efforts to challenge President Mubarak.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will name a new leader on Saturday after its first leadership vote since 1994, ending a divisive election period that laid bare divisions between so-called conservatives and reformists in the Arab world's largest opposition group. Then, it will be official: Former veterinarian’s union chief Mohamed Badie will take over as the organization's Supreme Guide.Skip to next paragraph
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The change in leadership also includes a shift on the Brotherhood’s governing Guidance Bureau, where conservatives recently unseated prominent reformists. The upheaval comes at a delicate time, with increasing signs that that 81-year-old Mubarak's son, Gamal, is being groomed to succeed him in a presidential election scheduled for next year.
Mr. Badie is expected to consolidate conservative influence within a group that has been subject of a withering government crackdown in recent years. His election has sidelined a younger generation of reformers who had hoped to transform the stodgy Brotherhood from an organization focused on religious outreach and social welfare projects into something more like a modern political party. The Brotherhood is technically banned by the Egyptian government but is officially tolerated.
Brotherhood leaders, including ousted reformers, insist little will change under the new command, which will continue to control 20 percent of Parliament.
“If you monitor the Brotherhood’s activities you will see that they are going to continue as they have been,” says Essam El Erian, the one well-known reformist to win a seat on the Guidance Bureau. “The new Guide will not add or take away anything.”
But others worry that the new conservative leadership will alienate young, reform-minded members by making the movement less inclined – or less capable – of political activism against the 28-year-old regime of President Hosni Mubarak and could lead to a splintered and weak Islamic opposition.
Egypt’s government has come down hard on the Brotherhood since 2005, imprisoning thousands since election wins made it a major player in Parliament. This month’s internal vote was meant to show off the group’s democratic bona fides, but that display has been muddied by infighting among the leaders and uncertainty about the future.