Muslim Brotherhood Heads Up Iraq Under

Muslim Brotherhood Heads up Iraq under Americans

AFP reports that the president of the Interim Governing Council for February is Muhsin Abdul Hamid, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Iraqi branch of the Sunni fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

The party was founded, according to Islam Online, in 1944 when Hasan al-Banna (founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood) sent Husayn Kamal al-Din to Iraq. The Iraqi government at that time had been taken back over by the British and disallowed the name “Muslim Brotherhood” (the Brotherhood in Egypt at that time was attacking British soldiers and Egyptian government figures who cooperated with the British). The Muslim Brotherhood has often had a local character, and has followed different policies at different times. In the 1940s in Egypt it had a covert apparatus that was violent. Hamas in Palestine is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr. Abdul Hamid had initially announced last April that the Iraqi Islamic Party would not cooperate with the US occupation, but he reversed himself and joined the Interim Governing Council in July.

He clearly still has issues with the Americans. Jim Hoagland reported in the Washington Post for Jan. 26, 2004, of his recent visit to the United States: “Mohsen Abdul Hamid, head of the Iraqi branch of the Sunni-based Muslim Brotherhood, left the Governing Council delegation in New York rather than come to Washington and be photographed visiting the White House.”

He had earlier stressed his party’s cooperation with Shiites in opposing Communism back in the 1960s. (Since the Communists have a representative on the IGC, one wonders how he gets along with them now).

He was among the IGC members who accepted the principle of federalism recently for the three Kurdish-majority provinces, which would allow them to have a single provincial government.

Abdul Hamid is opposed to the holding of direct elections, as called for by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. He would want Islamic law to be the law of the land, though presumably the Sunni rather than the Shiite version.

Since the IGC will spend February working on the Fundamental Law that will serve as Iraq’s constitution for the next two years, which is to include a bill of rights, it is a little unfortunate that the Muslim Brotherhood has the presidency this month.

AP reports that Abdul Hamid “was born in the northern city of Kirkuk has authored more than 30 books on interpretation of the Quran. A former professor at the College of Education in Baghdad, he was detained in 1996 on charges of reorganising his party. It is not clear when he was freed.”

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