'Muslim Brothers using mosques as party branches'
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit warns Islamist group is gradually seeking to create a Shari'a state in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is using mosques as the headquarters of its party branches, and the organization is gradually seeking to create a Shari'a-based state, former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit warned on Tuesday, during a conference on the internet's role in recent upheavals in the Arab world in Tel Aviv.
Shabtai, who chaired the conference held at Tel Aviv University and organized by the Tel Aviv Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, said that the Muslim Brotherhood remained the only real organized political force in Egypt, and that the current military council leading the country until elections "was a link between the old hated regime and its replacement."
He added that the foundations of the old Mubarak regime, including the ruling party, the interior ministry, and prisons were currently being dismantled in Egypt.
"The Muslim Brotherhood could not be crushed by past regimes because of its dual identity as a religious and a political movement. Every mosque is a party branch headquarters. Every cleric at the mosque is the party branch chairman. A contribution to the mosque is a contribution to the party," Shabtai added.
The Brotherhood was maneuvering itself through the current turmoil in Egypt skilfully, Shabtai said, adding that its immediate goal was to be a balance changer in parliament, following the upcoming parliamentary elections.
"After that, they would like to place the country under Shari'a law," he added. "Only a separation between state and party could address the problem."
A second speaker at the conference, strategic expert Dr. Haim Asa, who served as an adviser to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, said the internet had played a defining role in the process of making Arab-Muslim youths across the Middle East aware of the repressive surroundings in which they live.
"The youths live in two worlds, a physical world, and the cyberworld. This is a new experience, and it has a direct impact on consciousness," Asa said.
The new awareness has led to a collective rage and desire to improve their lives, and created "a new player on the scene" in the Middle East; the mob, Asa said.
"They stand in Tahrir Square and in Deraa, they are injured and killed, and they continue to stand," Asa said.
"This is an unstoppable process. I don't know what will come next, but it seems the old style of dictators that we have known will be no more," he added.
Asa said he believed that if Israel remained passive, the new phenomenon of mobs, which he described as a "civil atomic bomb," would pose "a greater danger to Israel than the Iranian nuclear bomb."