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Muslim Brotherhood expels three over ‘Zamzam’ initiative

By Taylor Luck - Apr 21,2014 - Last updated at Apr 21,2014

AMMAN — The Muslim Brotherhood has expelled three leading members of the movement over their involvement in a rival reform initiative, the group announced on Monday.

In a decision handed down by the group’s internal court on late Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood moved to annul the memberships of Rheil Gharaibeh, Nabil Kofahi and Jamil Dheisat for their involvement in the so-called National Initiative for Building, or “Zamzam” reform initiative.

In its decision, finalised on Monday, the country’s largest opposition movement cited the three’s “absence at court proceedings” and “failure to coordinate with group leaders or announce their intentions” in forming the initiative as among reasons behind the move.

In a statement, the group claimed it had given the sacked members several months since the announcement of the reform imitative in December 2012 to “submit a report within the internal framework of the organisation” to expand on the nature and intent of the reform initiative.

“The three members in question were given all opportunities to clarify their position and the intent behind the formation of this initiative, and they failed to comply,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy overall leader of the Brotherhood, told The Jordan Times.

Gharaibeh, a former deputy overall leader of the group and Zamzam co-founder, criticised the decision, accusing the leadership within the Islamist movement of pursuing policies of “intolerance” to dissenting opinions.

“This decision is the latest in a series of actions and misguided policies that raise questions over the democratic nature of the movement and its future,” Gharaibeh said.

The three expelled members deny accusations that the pro-reform initiative, an umbrella of leading figures of various political affiliations, aims to serve as a rival to the Islamist movement.

“The Zamzam initiative is a national reform initiative and not an Islamist or a Brotherhood initiative. It is not a party nor is it in any way an attempt to compete with the Brotherhood,” Gharaibeh said.

Although Sunday’s decision was “final”, the three can be reinstated at a later date according to internal Brotherhood guidelines.

The decision follows months of refusal by Brotherhood leaders to take a position on Zamzam, which has gained over 800 members since its formation in December 2012.

In October, the Brotherhood leadership boycotted the official launch of the initiative, stating only that it would not take an official position over members’ involvement in the coalition until it “reviews its policies and stances” to ensure they are in line with the movement’s political programme.

According to Brotherhood sources, behind the rare move is a growing division between so-called liberal faction of the movement — which was previously led by Gharaibeh and favours greater participation in public life and dialogue with the state — and more hard-line elements within the group headed by Bani Rsheid, which currently dominate the movement’s leadership.

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