SIDON, Lebanon: The local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has fallen out with its traditional ally, the Future Movement, over its support for toppling Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi.
“We issued a decision to boycott the activities of the Future Movement as a way to highlight Future’s mistakes,” Bassam Hammoud, Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya’s political officer in south Lebanon, told The Daily Star. “The Future Movement should have at least remained silent.”
Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, the Brotherhood’s Lebanese arm, has traditionally been an ally of the Future Movement, and while ties between the two groups have periodically experienced incidents of tension, the dramatic developments in Egypt have now ruptured ties between the two organizations.
The Islamist group decided last month to boycott Future Movement activities, particularly those organized by the party’s media arm.
Future TV and Al-Sharq radio “dedicated their news bulletins and political programs to supporting [Egyptian military leader Abdel-Fattah] al-Sisi against the Brotherhood,” complained Hammoud.
The Egyptian military, led by Sisi, ousted the Brotherhood-backed Morsi on July 3 after massive street protests.
Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya in Lebanon refers to the development as a “military coup against the legitimacy of the deposed President Mohammad Morsi.”
Hammoud said the removal of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood from power would not affect its Lebanese cousin in a “material” sense, but would damage morale. He criticized the Future Movement for engaging in a double standard, namely opposing the force of arms and undemocratic methods in Lebanon while supporting such actions in Egypt.
The Future Movement opposes Hezbollah retaining its weapons and considers the toppling of Lebanon’s Cabinet in 2011 over the issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon “a coup.”
Al-Jamaa, which celebrated the Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt, is pained by its local ally’s support of the military’s persecution of the group.
“It’s a matter of principle, the principle of forcing political choices on the Egyptian people,” Hammoud said. “We find the faction that suffered in Lebanon from this supremacy [of arms] supporting this coup, which works against all democratic criteria and the right of the people to choose their representatives.”
The local split mirrors the differences between Qatar, a supporter of the Brotherhood, and other Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait supported the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, pledging billions in aid to Egypt in the immediate aftermath of the coup.
“It is very unfortunate that the Future Movement was part of this structure that supported the coup and [former] premier Saad Hariri was one of the first to congratulate the putschists on their theft of power in Egypt,” Hammoud said.
He condemned Future’s media outlets as akin to “media belonging to Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi,” and accused them of publishing lies and fabricated accusations against the Brotherhood.
He said the party’s newspaper portrayed the Brotherhood as a group committing terrorist acts “at a time when we find that all the victims in Egypt are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
Hammoud said his party sent a letter to Lebanese officials, explaining what he described as the truth behind what happened in Egypt.
He criticized Future Movement leader and former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora for not taking an independent stance on the events in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Sidon MP Bahia Hariri has sought to distance herself from the conflict, asking management at the Future Movement’s media outlets to temper their attacks against the Muslim Brotherhood, The Daily Star has learned.
Al-Jamaa is now preparing to launch the “Rabaa” campaign, a reference to Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, one of the sites where the Muslim Brotherhood held protests against the Egyptian army’s actions, before being violently dispersed by Egyptian security forces.
The party plans to distribute a logo showing a hand holding up four fingers – the symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood’s protest movement in Egypt against the coup.