CAIRO, June 21 (UPI) -- The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said its strength comes from member discipline, not the number of people in the group.
The Muslim Brotherhood stripped the membership from Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh after he decided to run for president of Egypt later this year as an independent candidate.
The Muslim Brotherhood took 20 percent of the seats in Egyptian parliamentary elections in 2005 by competing as independent candidates. The group is organizing its political activity under the newly recognized Freedom and Justice Party but said it wouldn't field a candidate for presidential elections this year.
An article in The New York Times suggests Fotouh's decision to go against the Muslim Brotherhood's stance on the presidential race shows the group is showing signs of disunity.
The Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement on its official Ikhwanweb site that it's open to independent action so long as those parties are aware of the administrative consequences.
"What political pundits and observers often fail to 'analyze' is that the strength and resilience of the MB lie in the steadfastness and discipline of its members, not simply their numbers," the group's statement read.
In an interview with al-Jazeera, Fotouh said he was still popular among Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
"I am still the closest (candidate) to (Muslim Brotherhood members) and they are still the closest people to me," he was quoted as saying.