MB youth’s plea for unity met with skepticism

Muslim Brotherhood youth members issued a statement Sunday night calling for unity between all revolutionary forces, especially youth groups. The statement came in the aftermath of Saturday’s protests against former President Hosni Mubarak and other officials’ acquittal on charges of orchestrating protesters’ deaths in the January 25, 2011 revolution.

The statement was circulated on social media sites and the privately owned Rassd News Network, which is rumored to be linked to the banned Islamist organization.

Titled “10 messages from the Brotherhood’s youth to the partners of the January revolution,” the statement asserted that all revolutionary forces — including the Brotherhood — had committed mistakes that harmed the revolution.

“The military coup was not against the Brotherhood and [former President Mohamed] Morsi. It was against the January revolution and its youth. [The military] is taking revenge from all sides, which is evident in the trials against the revolutionaries and the acquittal of Mubarak and his regime,” the group declared.

The statement called on all forces to put the country’s interests above all political or ideological divisions.

“This is the first message, and it won’t be the last. Communication and unity is the only way to the victory of our revolution and the freedom of our Egypt,” the statement concluded.

However, other revolutionary forces received the call with suspicion, rejecting a possible rapprochement with the ousted group.

The April 6 Youth Movement would definitively not be involved in a reconciliation with the Brotherhood, the party’s spokesperson Zizo Abdou told Mada Masr.

“We are not concerned with any possibility of negotiation or alliance with the Brotherhood. We have other revolutionary forces to coordinate with. This will never include the Brotherhood,” Abdou maintained.

The movement — whose founder Ahmed Maher is serving a three-year prison sentence for violating the contentious Protest Law — had endorsed Morsi in the 2012 presidential elections in opposition against his rival, Mubarak-era official Ahmed Shafiq. 

“But we learned from the lessons of the past,” Abdou said.

The Brotherhood has released various calls similar to Sunday’s statement, but they amount to little more than a “strategy” to achieve gains for the group, Abdou claimed. He added that this latest statement may have a more clearly defined aim.

“This call comes after the strong protest movement in reaction to the verdict acquitting Mubarak in Abdel Moneim Riad Square. They want to utilize this movement for their own interest,” he alleged.

On Saturday, thousands of angry protesters gathered in Abdel Moneim Riad, near downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to voice their rejection of the contentious court verdict. Eyewitnesses say that at least 3,000 people gathered around Tahrir, the birthplace of the revolution that demanded the former president’s ouster.

The Brotherhood youth’s statement went on to declare that the group valued all those killed in the revolution’s battles, including the Mohamed Mahmoud, Maspero, and Cabinet clashes, in addition to the Brotherhood supporters killed during the bloody dispersal of Rabea al-Adaweya Square in 2013.

But for Abdou, even the famous Rabea salute commemorating the mass deaths at the sit-in has become problematic.

“In the beginning, I respected the sign and the value it should carry for the sake of the martyrs — but it no longer expresses them. The sign now symbolizes the Muslim Brotherhood group and its allies,” he argued.

However, Diaa al-Sawy, the head of the Islamist Istiqlal Party’s youth committee, insisted that non-Islamist youth groups must accept these reconciliation efforts.

The Istiqlal Party is a member of the National Alliance to Protect Legitimacy, a Brotherhood-led coalition.

“If there is no unity, there will be new leaders that will manage to take charge of the situation. The revolution is not just linked to individuals,” Sawy told Mada Masr.

The statement also provoked angry reactions from social media users, who dismissed it as another Brotherhood attempt to hijack the revolution. Twitter users launched a hashtag called “The statement of the Brotherhood’s youth” to denounce the call for unity.

Critics say that the statement contradicts Brotherhood and Salafi youth members’ call to protest last Friday in order to “protect Egypt’s Islamic identity,” a protest effort that was castigated for what detractors called its sectarian and divisive nature.

Ultimately, the “Islamist revolution” protests found little support in the street.

But Sawy, who is also spokesperson of the Youth Against the Coup movement, believes that there is no contradiction between Sunday’s statement and the earlier call to protest.

“Unity does not mean that every political force gives up on its ideas or ideology. What if the socialists called for a protest to eliminate class struggle? Would we say that this is wrong because it will upset the liberals?” he asked.

For Sawy, there are common goals that require unity, but “other goals like preserving Islamist identity should not be looked at as a source of division.”

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