Issue no. 70 of Rowaq Arabi: The Muslim Brotherhood since Egypt’s Revolution A Failure to Reform

In Rowaq Arabi by CIHRS

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) recently released issue no. 70 of its occasional periodical, Rowaq Arabi, which explores the future of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) following the Egyptian revolution. The authors featured are Bahey eldin Hassan, Co-founder and Director of CIHRS; Moataz El-Fegeiry, scholar and human rights activist; Ahmed Abd Rabbo, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, Cairo University; Georges Fahmi, Associate Fellow, Carnegie Middle East Center; Mokhtar Awad, Research Fellow with the National Security and International Policy Team at the Center for American Progress; Mostafa Hashem, journalist covering politics for the daily Al-Shorouk; and Syrian scholar Yassin al-Haj Saleh.

The authors examine the MB’s discourse, as well as statements from rights organizations commenting on the crises that occurred in part due to the MB’s exclusionary rhetoric. Yassin al-Haj Saleh takes a broader look at the discourse of Daesh around the world and the impact of its emergence and growth on human rights and politics.

Bahey eldin Hassan introduces the issue with a comparison of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia. He examines the grave errors committed by the MB that explain its unsuccessful political outcomes in comparison to Ennahda. Hassan views the MB’s political failure as having origins in its 2007 political platform, which exploits Islam to secure a totalitarian model of governance. Hassan addresses the MB’s inability to grasp its own political failures; typified by its reduction of the June 30th popular uprising to a conspiracy hatched by the deep state and military establishment. A victim narrative has dominated the Brotherhood’s mindset, especially following the state’s harsh crackdown, most brutally exemplified by the massacres at Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political failure is further examined by Moataz El-Fegeiry. The MB did not evolve in the post-Mubarak period of political openness. It instead opted to maximize its political gains at the expense of a successful, consensual transition process; and did not hesitate to collude with the old regime’s authoritarian and antirevolutionary agenda. The MB exploited the state’s repressive tools to advance an exclusionary, inequitable vision for their own gain; thus further deepening the divide between the MB and other political forces.

So where does the Muslim Brotherhood stand today? Ahmed Abd Rabbo concludes that the MB’s position today is even worse than it was in the 1990s, when the MB was widely perceived as a terrorist organization. The MB’s dysfunctional internal dynamics, combined with its ideological vacuity, has led to substantial social and political losses marring its ability to present itself to the public as a viable political alternative.

Can the MB reinvent itself internally to overcome its catastrophic political failures thus far? Georges Fahmi concludes that to rebuild itself after its internal implosion, the  MB must establish new organizational structures that show a consideration for internal democracy by involving lower-level members in the decision-making process while establishing consensus on decisions amongst all members.

The dynamics within the Muslim Brotherhood have far-reaching implications in Egypt and beyond. Mokhtar Awad and Mustafa Hashem examine the rise of the Islamist insurgency in Egypt as a product of the conflict within the Muslim Brotherhood. Reform and stability are not viable, they emphasize, unless the destructive consequences of extremism’s rapid growth among Islamist youth are recognized and confronted.

The peril of Islamic extremism’s rapid escalation is underscored by Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s analysis on Daesh. The impact of Daesh’s stunning rise is not limited to the Syrian crisis, where its brutality has provided a major pretext for international inaction. Its political and sociocultural ramifications have afflicted the region and the globe, having a profoundly adverse impact on the protection of human rights. By failing to address the root causes of Daesh’s emergence, the response to Daesh has only served to strengthen its influence; while concurrently producing similar extremist groups. Saleh concludes by presenting a new framework through which to confront Daesh and prevent the emergence of similar groups

The full issue is available in Arabic here.

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