Generation Gap Widens
By: Ayman Hassouna Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt).
A generational conflict has become apparent during recent conferences held by various Muslim Brotherhood branches in the countries that experienced the so-called Arab Spring. These countries have become known in the media as the “Brotherhood Crescent,” a reference to the group’s rise to power in most of them. Pumping young blood into the group’s aging leadership was at the top of the agendas at the recent meetings.
About This Article
Conflict is budding between the young and older generations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ayman Hassouna reports. As younger members clamor for increased leadership roles in their respective parties, their views often clash with those of older members, a trend which became apparent in recent Brotherhood conferences.Publisher: Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt)
Generational Conflict Threatens the Ruling “Brotherhood Crescent” in the Arab Spring
Author: Ayman Hassouna
First Published: July 18, 2012
Posted on: July 18 2012
Translated by: Naria Tanoukhi
On Tuesday, in Istanbul, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood held its first general conference in 30 years and discussed two major internal issues: how to energize the role of young men and women in the organization and how to gather more support for the revolution.
The conference, scheduled to end Wednesday, will also discuss other important topics concerning the revolution and the realities facing the group. Muhammad Riad al-Shaqfa, general superintendent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, said during the opening session that the Brotherhood is still rooted in Syria. He called on the international community to respond to the Syrian people's wishes.
In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda Movement — which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood — concluded its general conference by reiterating the party’s confidence in its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, and re-electing him as the movement’s president. Ennahda agreed to include a few notes in the final statement of the conference, which ended Tuesday.
The first note concerns the polarizing notion of encouraging more younger members to hold key leadership positions. The second relates to the passing of the general legislative amnesty law as a condition for reconciliation.The third calls for conducting an evaluation of all phases of the movement’s work since 1987. The fourth and final item advocates the adoption of a parliamentary system. Conference participants stressed the party’s commitment to political “centrism” and “moderation.” They agreed on renouncing “extremism,” and also discussed an economic program.
The participants said that heated debates had broken out between former leaders of the movement and the younger generation, but they refused to reveal the nature or scale of the disagreements. The Ennahda Movement has organized five previous, private conferences in Tunisia, and three others abroad. Ghannouchi has headed the movement since 1991, and is described as a “reconciliatory” figure between the moderate and radical wings of the party.
In Morocco, the seventh General Conference of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) — the political arm of the Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood, which is also the pre-eminent power in the country after its success in the early legislative elections that were held last November — concluded with a renewal of confidence in party leader, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane. There were calls to postpone the conference in light of the backlash that the ruling party is currently facing because of its decision to increase fuel prices. This moved reduced the popularity of the PJD.
The party’s young membership — and the generational problems surrounding this situation — is a key issue for the PJD. In 2004, the party was subjected to some kind of youth revolution when the younger members launched a campaign titled “Who are we?” which harshly criticized the party’s leaders. But after the party’s rise to power in January, the severity of the clash between old and young generations receded. However, it is expected to escalate again in light of the criticism that Benkirane’s government is receiving due to its performance.
In an attempt to accommodate the new, young faces, Abdel-Haq al-Arabi, a member of the Organizational Committee in the seventh National Congress of the PJD, declared that the youth bloc would constitute 35% of the party’s new 160-member national council.
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