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Saturday July 3, 2010 11:13 AM (EST+7)
Muslim Brotherhood launches social networking site

Read more: Muslim Brotherhood, Facebook., social networking, Hamas, internet, web, information technology

RAMALLAH, July 3 (JMCC) - The Muslim Brotherhood has launched its own version of Facebook, Ikhwanbook. The Brotherhood, or Khwan as it is known in Arabic, originally founded Hamas in the 1980s. Today, the movement centered in Egypt is searching for an energized base online.

“When [Brotherhood founder] Hassan al Banna started his call for people to return to the real Islam, he started by promoting this idea in coffee shops, in places where there are people who should be helped to return to Islam,” said Mosab Ragab, 22, a Brotherhood member. “When I think today that I am calling people who are frequenting the internet to real Islam, I’ll also study where they are, what are the places they go to. I will not establish a site or a place for myself and say ‘OK, here I am. Whoever wants to find my ideas they can come to my place.’ I find where those people are and I go to them.”

Mr Ragab described IkhwanBook as technically “weak” because it relies on an open-source version of the original Facebook software rather than the company’s more advanced proprietary version.

Despite that IkhwanBook is technically lacking and will certainly include far fewer than 400 million users, it will offer some advantages Facebook cannot. Facebook can delete a user’s account if they receive a certain number of complaints, said Mr Said. Such a policy makes pages for illegal political groups like the Brotherhood vulnerable to complaints from Egypt’s security authorities.

The pages of Abdel Aziz al Rantissi, one of the founders of the Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas, and Khairat al Shater, a senior member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood who has been in prison for more than a decade, were both at least temporarily removed, said Mr Said.

Facebook, which is based in the United States, did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite questions of privacy and police surveillance Brotherhood members have a huge presence on the conventional Facebook, said Mohammed Morsey, one of the group’s official spokesmen and a member of the governing Guidance Office, The foundation of IkhwanBook, he said, is motivated by nothing other than promoting “the benefit of the people”, rather than avoiding censure or censorship.

Nevertheless, the Brotherhood remains an officially illegal political organisation whose members are routinely harassed and detained.

Read the story at The National...






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