AMMAN — An Islamist leader was downbeat on Wednesday over the prospects of the full return of a major charity to the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that authorities have made changes to the structure and composition of the organisation that have made it almost impossible for the group to have the upper hand again.
In 2005, the government took over the board of the Islamic Centre Society (ICS), the charitable arm of the Brotherhood, citing suspicion of corruption, while the Islamists saw the move as “purely political”, meant to rein in the opposition group.
The charity’s board was dismantled and hand-picked persons have since then run the affairs of the organisation, which comprises a hospital, several schools and other components that serve local communities and, according to observers, have helped the Islamists earn popularity, especially among poor communities in major cities.
According to Brotherhood top officials, the government has recently appointed its shura council president, Abdul Latif Arabiyat, as chairman of the ad hoc committee managing the ICS.
Government officials were not available Tuesday and Wednesday to confirm the statement, attributed by local media outlets to Arabiyat.
Islamic Action Front (IAF) politburo chief Zaki Bani Rsheid confirmed the report, but said that after all these years, too much harm has been done to consider it good news.
He said that authorities have been attracting more and more people as members of the ICS’s general assembly.
“Accordingly, the Muslim Brotherhood cannot necessarily win control again because there is a strong possibility that we will not win a controlling share in the board,” Bani Rsheid told The Jordan Times in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
"We have to wait and see how the authorities are going to act when the general assembly of the society gathers to elect a permanent committee," he said, casting doubt over the authorities intention to give up the largest non-profit organisation in the Kingdom.
He added that the authorities managed to register thousands of new members in the ICS general assembly, placing the majority in their hand.
“The government might have good intentions towards the issue but “we do not trust other agencies,” unless they refrain from impacting the elections of the society in the future, he said, in an apparent reference to security agencies.
The society now suffers a JD30 million budget deficit, but Bani Rsheid reiterated that the Islamists are able to restore the organisation to its previous state and rebuild its strong financial position.
“We have all the means to bring back the society to life,” Bani Rsheid said.
The government’s decision came just few days after a confrontation between Islamists participating in a protest in the northern city of Mafraq and group of anti-protesters, which resulted in several injuries and the burning down of the group’s office in the city.