What are the forces behind the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood?

Struggling with the Egyptian State since its foundation in 1928 due to its involvement in violence should have eliminated the Muslim Brotherhood from the political scene a long time ago – yet the organization has persisted for a whole century. This should prompt us to contemplate the reasons behind its endurance. Surprisingly, the organization, although currently malfunctioning, is still vibrant among many of its members. Learning about the Muslim Brotherhood’s strengths may help us to defeat them.

The Muslim Brotherhood, still functioning according to its obsolete internal bylaws, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, whereas many progressive political entities were established and effaced. The relationship between the Egyptian State and the Brotherhood has gone through many difficult phases and it is presently undergoing the most challenging period since its foundation. Nevertheless, to claim that the organization has been abolished entirely is certainly an overstatement.

The current marginalization of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian politics does not mean that it has dwindled (that may happen, but not in the near future). While the measures applied by the Egyptian State vis-à-vis the Brotherhood over the past few years have certainly weakened the organization, they have not altered its members’ allegiances and beliefs, which continue to spread silently across Egyptian society. The Muslim Brotherhood has always relied on three main pillars that have succeeded in maintaining the vitality of the organization.

Islamic ideology has been the backbone of the Brotherhood, managing to sustain the organization’s members and sympathizers for almost a century with a smooth handover from a generation to the next. Placing Islam as the core value and the overall theme of the organization has helped to evade the kinds of political debate that all political parties engage in. Sadly, this proposition has strengthened the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of our religion.

The Brotherhood’s second active dimension is its organization, not in terms of hierarchy, but in terms of functional organization; it works on erasing any individual ambition or egoism. The markedly individualistic behavior that is common in our society does not exist among the members of the Muslim Brotherhood; the organization works to attract the middle-class mainly, ignoring the elite (who often aspire to taking on superior roles). Each member of the organization is called upon (falsely) to serve Islam. In reality, this translates into serving the Brotherhood with no expectation for personal reward.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s third supporting pillar is an external one that consists of simply highlighting the Egyptian State’s failure to uplift the masses from poverty. The ineffectiveness of government projects and the irresoluteness of efforts to fight corruption and reduce bureaucracy are easily exploited issues; they have bolstered the Brotherhood, which has refrained from developing an alternative economic program of its own, claiming that the application of Islam will solve our challenges.

The strengths of the Muslim Brotherhood are often counteracted with various fabricated, weak measures offered by the Egyptian State and by other political parties. The State provides Egyptian society with incredible preachers that are not sufficiently convincing and that keep their audiences at a distance, and our political parties are established to serve their presidents, not to engage citizens effectively. Meanwhile, the State’s political affiliates tend to be dominated by opportunists rather than by citizens who want to serve their country.

In fact, the tools used by the Egyptian State to combat the Muslim Brotherhood have been benefiting the illegitimate organization at the expense of our country. The Egyptian government should always remember that “Political Islamists” garnered roughly three-quarters of Egyptians’ votes in the 2012 parliament elections. Correctly assessing the magnitude of the political Islam factor in our lives is better for us than underestimating the status of political Islamists. In addition, using religion for political purposes has served the Brotherhood substantially better than the Egyptian State.

Egypt needs sound political entities capable of replacing the Muslim Brotherhood’s role by effectively engaging millions of citizens in their activities. This is the best means to fragment and weaken the Brotherhood. The current policy of assuming that the Muslim Brotherhood has been eliminated, that the economy is doing well and that Egyptian citizens support the State blindly is a fragile one that won’t last – continuing to pursue this policy will bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power sooner or later.

 

 

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