Muslim Brotherhood of Libya launches Facebook page
By Jamel Arfaoui for Magharebia in Tunis – 20/07/10
Libya's Muslim Brotherhood on July 5th unveiled a page on social networking website Facebook.
Libyan attorney and right activist Abdessalam El Mesmari told Magharebia that the step is "late on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood" and aims to "fill an online media gap... to introduce their ideas... as a political group with a political Islam-based line of thinking".
"The huge number of daily Facebook visitors is appealing to those who want to promote their ideas and vision, be they public figures such as media men, writers, or poets, or physical entities such as corporations, rights institutions and NGOs, or even heads of states, parties and political associations," El Mesmari added.
Blogger and rights activist Ghaida Touati said the page was the Brotherhood's attempt to "promote its ideas to attract proponents... at a time when the loyalty of the Libyan political scene is being divided into what is known as the 'old guard' and the 'new guard'".
"The social networking website attracts all strata of Libyan society, especially young people, the most important category in Libya," she added.
The Brotherhood's Facebook page says: "We denounce violence and will not resort to violence to settle disputes. We think that differences, while maintaining the main constants within the Libyan society, can be a healthy phenomenon, if all parties abide by the rules of dialogue and the ethics of debate."
"We regard the values of freedom, justice and human rights, provided they do not contradict the tenets of or religion, as part of the core of religion and one of its objectives... we also value science and scholars, since they are the means of achieving advancement in society, as well as scientific, technical progress and development", reads the page.
Young people contacted by Magharebia had negative reactions to the group's Facebook overture.
Salem Maatoug scorned the new page, "especially since Islamic leaders previously regarded Facebook as unlawful, and I don't think that [the Muslim Brotherhood] going back to it and using it... to voice their ideas through smooth talk would be a good idea".
Tarek El Ahmed told Magharebia that the mere name of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in the 1950s, "enrages" him.
"How can they call themselves Muslim brothers? Does that mean that those who don't follow them are the brothers of Satan?" he asked.
Yet the group's Facebook page reads: "Islam is the religion of all Libyans. It is not restricted to the [Muslim Brotherhood] or the Muslim trend. Nor do we claim to understand it better or to abide by it more strictly."
The page goes on to identify the brotherhood's goals as "partaking in forming a new generation of faithful believers in the teachings of Islam, a generation that seeks to impart a pure and ethical life to the Libyan society".
Cheker Chorfi, a professor of Islamic civilisation, said: "In my opinion, this isn't penetration or an attempt to spread extremist ideas. Rather, it's awareness of the need to open up to the 'other' now that they've given up their closed concept of religion."
"I've read that they've mended their ways based on discussions they had with moderate scholars who engaged in debate with those in prison," Chorfi added.
The Muslim Brotherhood Facebook page includes news about freedoms in Libya, as well as discussions with their leaders on the reform initiative launched by Saif al-Islam al-Kadhafi.
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