Dissent within the Al Nour ranks

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013

IN a village in the outskirts of Cairo, Mohamed Gumah admits that Al Nour – a prominent Salafist party – has messed up in dealing with the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi by the army.

“We have a very bad situation now in the party. There is conflict between followers and the leaders of the party.

“Followers don’t agree with the decisions party leaders are taking. They think they are playing politics and making wrong decisions,” said Gumah, who is the party’s secretary in the Al Kum- Al Ahmar district.

Al Nour is the second largest Islamist party in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood, and was one of the key factions that had backed the military coup.

When the armed forces chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made the televised announcement on July 3 of Morsi’s ouster, he was flanked by many, including a representative from ultra-conservative Al Nour.

But this has not gone down well with party followers who feel that their leaders have stabbed the Muslim Brotherhood in the back.

“Our followers have all been flocking to the pro-Morsi protests at Rabba al-Adawiyah in Cairo.

“They are saying ‘our leaders are playing politics but we are with our Islamic brothers’.

“And that while we (Al-Nour) have differences in our ways and ideas with the Muslim Brotherhood, but in this situation, we are one with them,” he said.

In the final round of 2012 presidential election between Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi and Ahmad Shafeek, a former Prime Minister under president Hosni Mubarak, Al Nour threw its support behind Morsi, who then went on to win the presidency.

Since Morsi’s overthrow less than two week ago, Gumah himself has been one of the tens of thousands thronging Rabaa al-Adawiyah to get him reinstated.

“Morsi made mistakes. He clashed with a big faction of society. Many did not agree with him and some Islamists didn’t agree with him, too.

“But no one can convince me that his ouster is a revolution,” he said.

Gumah finds it disturbing that military took the decision to oust Morsi without considering voices on the other side.

“Their logic seems to be that whoever can rally the highest number of protesters has the biggest say.

“That is a big disaster and dangerous situation for any president,” he said.

On July 8, the army and police fired on pro-Morsi protestors in front of the Republican Guard headquarters near Rabaa’al Adawiyah while they were praying during the early morning prayers, leaving 55 dead.

The army claim they came under attack from armed men (which pro-Morsi supporters deny). The disproportionate use of force which left so many dead have left pro-Morsi supporters angry and even more determined to push ahead. This includes Al Nour followers who have been backing Morsi.

In an attempt to save face and heal the rift between its leaders and followers, Al Nour called the July 8 clashes “a massacre” and said it was immediately withdrawing support for army-installed interim president and suspending co-operation for the “road map” to new elections.

But the damage has already been done.

Gumah said while he personally hopes that the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Nour could work together for a coalition government of sorts someday, but in reality this is unlikely.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is upset with our leaders for their earlier stance and they don’t trust us. It is unlikely to be ‘good feelings’ between the two sides,” he said.

Gumah also said the secret police – notorious for spying and keeping tabs and secret files on people and a common feature under the Mubarak regime – has starting making a comeback.

“Just three days after Morsi’s ouster, we had the secret police coming to our mosque asking all sorts of questions like ‘why do we pray’ and ‘when do we pray’ etc.

“This is just after three days. What is going to happen after three months. Will they shoot us? We’ve tasted freedom and we will not be slaves again.”

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