Muslim Brotherhood website editor resigns in row with leadership

The editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website, Ikhwanonline, resigned on Sunday to protest against the criticism from one Brotherhood leader of the site’s coverage of protests in Cairo on Friday.

Abdel Guelil al-Sharnouby tendered his resignation to the group’s Supreme Guide earlier today after Essam al-Erian, a prominent Brotherhood figure, dismissed Ikhwanonline’s coverage of last week’s protests as unprofessional.  

Erian added that a reshuffle of the site staff is planned.

In a phone interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sharnouby fended off Erian’s accusations, insisting that his coverage toed the Brotherhood’s official line. The Brotherhood officially opposed the protest, which aimed at pressuring the ruling military council into making faster and deeper reforms.

“I believe [the statement] is an attempt to disavow the group’s responsibilities and level accusations at the wrong [suspect],” Sharnouby said.

Last week the Brotherhood issued a strongly-worded statement discouraging Egyptians from participating in Friday's protests, dismissing them as “a revolution against” the people and “attempts to drive wedges” between them and the military.

In another statement, the group sought to denigrate groups calling for the rally by accusing them of being “secular and communist”,  two terms that carry negative connotations of atheism in Egyptian society.

On Friday, Ikhwanonline coverage took this stance, according to Sharnouby. Earlier in the day, the site carried a headline stating that there was a low turnout on the “Friday of Wedges”, in reference to claims that the protests aimed to put a wedge between the people and the military.

“We were interacting with the group's earlier statement which refused participation, called on people not to participate and described the protest as driving wedges," said Sharnouby, who has headed the site’s editorial board since May 2004.

By mobilizing the masses against Friday's protesters, the Brotherhood had antagonized many commentators and activists. For the past three days, the local press and television channels have swarmed with opinion pieces and talk show discussions that accused the Brotherhood of political opportunism and of reproducing the same verbal tactics that Mubarak’s regime adopted against its opponents.

On his Facebook page, Sharnouby implied that Erian’s statement was a maneuver “to appease the political elite at the expense” of the website.

Erian could not be reached to comment on the matter.

On Friday, tens of thousands took to Tahrir Square to pressure the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to expedite the trials of former regime figures, cease monopolizing the drafting of new laws, dismiss inefficient” ministers, and improve the wage scheme in the public sector.

In the meantime, other groups renewed calls for the postponement of the parliamentary elections and the promulgation of a new constitution before the new parliament is elected, an arrangement that the Brotherhood vehemently opposes.

The Brotherhood insists that parliamentary elections be held in the fall as scheduled, and that the new parliament be in charge of the new constitution, as stipulated in the military decree issued in March.

Other political forces contend that early parliamentary elections will benefit Islamists and members of Mubarak’s former party who still maintain strong networks at the grassroots level.

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