The past few days a piece of news that has made it above the fold in Jordanian papers (and raised some eyebrows as well) was Aziz Masa’ada, a Jordanian Christian who has been a part of the Islamic Action Front (the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood) for a few years and recently made history by being appointed to a position on the administrative board in Amman.
Less than a week later he resigned from the position.
It should be noted that there are several other Christians in the Islamic party and others are rumored to be considered for membership.
So was this a political maneuver pre-elections to enhance its image as a tolerant group? A makeover? If it is then I don’t believe it was done for the sake of appealing to Jordanian Christians but more likely to reach out to moderates in the country.
The IAF has fouled up on more than one occasion over these last few years since gaining 17 seats in the Lower House. And every time it makes headlines one can only expect a week or two of damage control to follow.
Is it possible that last summer’s fruedian slip that tainted their image as “Zarqawi lovers” is something they know will come back to haunt them in any upcoming elections?
With the rise of Hizballah and Hamas in the region the IAF can only hope to capitalize on their popularity for its own. But while there is not a single election that could be held where the IAF wouldn’t win seats in parliament, several things have happened since the last elections 4 years ago. Despite appearances, many political parties have chosen to merge/unite and we might see last minute power moves to do the same this time around as well. Such maneuvers will undoubtedly make it more difficult for the IAF to expand its power. This time around it might only hope to defend its territory and keep its seats.
Hence the moderates; an untapped electorate.
On the other hand, there’s something to be said about Christians (or even moderates) joining the IAF. In exchange for the political cover their looking for, they do have a voice in the party and over time they might end up watering it down and pulling it away from its more extremist tendencies. I think this was the source of concern recently voiced by members in the group who were against the idea of Aziz’s promotion. So there’s something positive to be said about such a move.
If there’s any truth to any of this then I expect a toning down in the usual Islamic rhetoric in the months to come while letting the brotherhood do the heavy lifting on the issues that keep their base content. Though I doubt the IAF or the Brotherhood are collectively that politically “aware” and the IAF has never been able to keep out of the negative limelight for long. It always finds a way to come back. Not to mention that calling yourself the Islamic Action Front and insisting that you’re not a religious group is a tough sell.
But rest assured there are plenty in Jordan who are still buying.