October 19, 2013

Inside the Muslim Brotherhood with one family

The Rantisi family experience illuminates the draw of the movement as well as its search for direction today.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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The Rantisi family gather at their house in Gaza City last June. From right are Baraa, Mohammed, Kifah, 10-month-old Mohammed, Malik, and Anaz. The family’s story illustrates the draw the Muslim Brotherhood and its search for direction today.

The Associated Press

Baraa criticized the head-shaving policemen on Facebook. His uncle Salah said police acted properly. And his mother came down somewhere in between: She opposed the police crackdown, but said personal choice has its limits. With her two grown daughters, the debate is not over whether to wear Western clothes, but over how loose or tailored their Islamic robes should be.

Hamas has cracked down hard on women. Few dare appear in public without a headscarf.There is some protest, even within the Brotherhood, where women have a separate organization and are mostly involved in social work rather than politics. Yet the Brothers consider themselves moderate, particularly when compared to Salafis, who preach an ultraconservative form of Islam.

Baraa embodies both the tradition and the modern pressures within the movement. The strict tone of the Rantisi household was set by Kifah, 47, one of the first Gaza women in the 1980s to veil her face. Kifah is the highest-ranking Rantisi in the movement, among just five women in Gaza’s 51-person Shura advisory council.

Baraa, stylish with Ray-Ban sunglasses, has challenged his mother’s contention that music is a gateway to sin.

“I had hot discussions with her,” said Baraa, who writes poems and downloads opera and rap from YouTube. But he also embraces the Brotherhood way.

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