2Against such diversity we can nevertheless speak of two divergent trends. Onefavours open political involvement in student or syndicate circles and other areas of public life. Known as the reformist trend, it has drawn the contours of the MB'simage in the sphere of public life. Abdel-Moneim Abul- Fotouh is the most prominentexponent of this trend among the group's senior leaders. The other trend runs theorganisational operations of the group, in which capacity they oversee recruitmentactivities, hierarchical appointments and relations, and the design andimplementation of material and programmes for indoctrination. The most importantexponent of this conservative trend in the MB leadership is Mahmoud Ezzat.The MB leadership has always managed to keep these two trends together despitetheir mutual differences. This has been no small task, massaging the strains betweenpeople who prefer to work in the public domain and, hence, are naturally inclinedtowards constructive, open and continual engagement with society, and thosewhose focus is inward, whose energies are forever directed at building their ownworld and raising the "vanguard of the faithful" upon whom the hopes and duties of reshaping society and the nation are pinned. The expansion in the activities of thegroup, combining proselytising, charity and political activities, favoured coexistenceto the extent that the public reformist and conservative organisational trends wereregarded as complementary. Their combined efforts, it was believed, lent impetus tothe group, expanded its grassroots base and improved its image among thegovernment elite. The organisation also seemed pleased to be the Mecca for all, tothose inclined towards political involvement, to those dedicated to proselytising, andto those keen on philanthropic and charity work. The leadership was not particularlyconcerned with unifying these diverse interests towards the pursuit of a singleclearly defined vision; it was merely content that they should not clash.The most recent manifestation of the prevalence of this outlook was the election of Mahdi Akef as the supreme guide in 2004. Akef epitomised the desire to perpetuatethe internal concord between the two basic trends. At the time he was elected -- atthe age of 76 -- he stood in the middle of the two generations in the leadershipbureau. On one side there was the old guard who were mostly over 80, on the otherthe generation that had become Islamist activists in the universities in the 1970s andwho were mainly in their 50s. Akef represents a convergence between the twotrends and age groups in other ways. Barely 12 when he joined the MuslimBrotherhood, he was trained by the organisation's founder, Hassan El-Banna. Inaddition to belonging to the generation of founders, he early joined theorganisation's underground paramilitary wing. At the same time he enjoysconsiderable credibility and popularity among the younger and more open- mindedMB generations involved in public affairs. He was the spiritual father of the project tofound the Wasat (Centre) Party, which was to represent the MB in the public domainbefore the leadership crisis ended with the dismissal or resignation of most of theparty's founders. As supreme guide, Mahdi Akef sought to preserve the concordbetween the two trends. However, various developments, some brought on by Akef himself, diminished the possibility of sustaining a workable formula for mutuallycomplementary coexistence.