Mahmoud Al Badry
Political Science 422
May 16th
, 2015
Research Paper: Muslim Brotherhood's Past and Present
Ever since it...
ideologies. Be that as in may, an analysis of officially stated Brotherhood goals and
political accounts presents a clear ...
the core values of Christianity, as the religion became a tool to fool the masses rather than
as an all-encompassing syste...
Brotherhood representatives agreed on the major policies and regulations set forth by the
organization's leadership, but p...
stark shift in rhetoric between before and after the January 25th
Revolution rightfully
served to alienate a large portion...
public opinion due to the contrary claims of both parties in question. In other words, the
Sisi regime's portrayal of the ...
Instead, as previously alluded to, the Brotherhood instead focused on positioning itself as
an alternative to the generall...
clear to the Brotherhood that politics is a dirty game that involves constant manipulations
to sway public opinion in orde...
Works Cited:
Mitchell, Richard P. "Transition to an Uncertain Future." The Society of the Muslim
Brothers. New York: Oxfor...
Works Cited:
Mitchell, Richard P. "Transition to an Uncertain Future." The Society of the Muslim
Brothers. New York: Oxfor...
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Pols 422 Research Paper.

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Transcripts - Pols 422 Research Paper.

  • 1. Mahmoud Al Badry Political Science 422 May 16th , 2015 Research Paper: Muslim Brotherhood's Past and Present Ever since its establishment in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has been among the most influential organizations in Egypt. Its creation introduced an Islamist narrative to Egypt's anti-colonial struggle that managed to split the nationalist discourse inside the country. Said split pitted the Muslim Brotherhood and their religious discourse against the largely secular, nationalist movement that had dominated the Egyptian independence movement for decades. As time moved on, the conflict between the two contrasting ideologies would only increase; culminating in the assassination of Egypt's prime minister, Mahmoud Al Nukrashi, in 1948 by the Brotherhood, and Hassan El Banna, the Brotherhood's founder and most influential leader, in 1949 (Mitchell, P. 69). The secular, nationalist movement's seizure of power after the Free Officers Revolution meant that the Brotherhood continued to be marginalized in Egypt's modern, independent history. Such marginalization has arguably continued to this very day to varying degrees; with only two clear exceptional periods, the first half of Anwar Al Sadat's presidency and the ill-fated, 1 year old term of the Brotherhood's own Mohammad Morsi in 2012. The oppression faced by the Brotherhood coupled with a continuous, government-led, media propaganda against the group managed to make the organization's political ideology a major arena for mythical stories and biased accounts. As such, it is simply impossible for one to truly determine where the truth lies when it comes to analyzing the group's socio-political
  • 2. ideologies. Be that as in may, an analysis of officially stated Brotherhood goals and political accounts presents a clear ideological shift inside the organization from the time of its establishment to the present day. It would be obviously naive to take these accounts at face value given the inner intricacies of any political movement. Nevertheless, once taken with a grain of salt, these documents provide a sufficient understanding of the Brotherhood's goals and how their means for achieving it have shifted throughout the years. This essay intends to analyze the Brotherhood's socio-political goals from the time of its establishment all the way to the present day whilst hypothesizing on possible reasons for the noticeable changes that have happened in between. In many ways, the Brotherhood's socio-political ideology, at the time of its establishment, was one seeking to counteract Western dominance and hegemony in the Middle East and beyond (Davidson, P. 97). Such position was directly affirmed by Hassan Il Banna in almost all his public appearances or speeches. In essence, the Brotherhood's ideology at the time revolved around attempts to bring back the golden ages of the Islamic kingdom through forming a unified, Islamic state across all Muslim states in the Middle East and beyond. They viewed the spiritual and linguistic similarities across the region to be unrivaled anywhere in the world, and thus present a very sound basis upon which the empire could be built. Moreover, in analyzing the region's history, Banna, and the MB's leadership as a whole, viewed the Islamic conquests very positively and regarded them as an enormous influence to Europeans before the Industrial Revolution (Banna, P. 8). In the colonial era, they claimed that the individualistic, materialistic, European way of life as one that particularly arose from an abandonment of
  • 3. the core values of Christianity, as the religion became a tool to fool the masses rather than as an all-encompassing system of governance. This hazardous lifestyle was transferred to the Middle East through colonization; with Europeans intentionally brainwashing Muslims to conform to their self-indulging methods. Put simply, Banna viewed European incursion into the Middle East as the main reason for the decreased importance of Islam in the everyday lives of the citizens. All of which meant that the two main goals of the organization at the time were to completely gain independence from Europeans coupled with the establishment of a free Islamic state that would spread the universal values of Islam all over the world. The only way to accomplish this, in their view, is through faith of reward in the afterlife, organization, and sheer relentlessness without resorting to the use of violence. Societal problems such as education and poverty are important, but are decisively less significant than establishing said goals. Flashing forward to the organization's motifs right before the January 25th Revolution, one immediately notices several changes in the Muslim Brotherhood's political ideology. The main theme among these changes appears in the form of shifting their focus away from countering Western influence in Egypt to focus on societal problems such as corruption and injustice. In addition, the desire to bring back Islamic values and ethos had been mildly decreased, at least in the public arena, as the Brotherhood sought to expand its support base across the country. Consequently, the organization focused heavily on grass-root level activities that are later performed through parliamentary means where Brotherhood delegates aren't mere pawns, but rather, disagree on several minor issues that directly affect their districts. In other words, Muslim
  • 4. Brotherhood representatives agreed on the major policies and regulations set forth by the organization's leadership, but possessed the capability to act based on their agency in minor issues. Before the Revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood mostly positioned themselves as the best foil to the government through appealing to the working classes. Their relentless work ethic along with their sense of unity, crystallized by strategies such as the kitchen operation, had successfully survived the test of time and allowed them to become one of, if not the only, real political party on Egyptian soils in the midst of continued government oppression (Shehata & Stacher, P. 176). All of which simply meant that the organization as a whole was constantly defamed by the government in the country's pre-revolution setting. Thus, their late arrival to the revolution coupled with their belated move to overground politics after the revolution shouldn't be viewed as a massive change in strategy. Rather, such change was one that primarily arose from the leadership void inside the country that finally allowed the organization to move away from their perpetual defensive measures against continuous government oppression. After winning the country's presidency in 2012, the supposedly changed Muslim Brotherhood ideology outlined above was proven to be a successful facade that was done primarily to gain support from the country's secular quota. As proof, the president, Mohamed Morsi, continuously started off his speeches by calling the Egyptian public his tribal companions in a direct reference to the times of the Prophet. Moreover, their continued support for Hamas in the Palestinian conflict coupled with their powerful ties with Qatar, both done against Egyptian public opinion, proved that the Brotherhood's main aim lied in enforcing Banna's political ideology on the country (The Guardian). The
  • 5. stark shift in rhetoric between before and after the January 25th Revolution rightfully served to alienate a large portion of the Egyptian population. Subsequently, the Brotherhood refused to react or alter their political maneuverers, illustrating their staunch abidance to their anti-Egyptian, so to speak, political ideology. As time went by, the Brotherhood's overtures in the Palestinian conflict, along with the general recession that hit Egyptian soils after the Revolution, decreased their public support even further due to the lack of essential services provided to the average Egyptian (New York Times). Again, the Brotherhood failed to react to the crisis at hand and generally continued to pursue their hopes of re-uniting the so called Islamic umma. These political missteps eventually led to a massively supported anti-Brotherhood campaign, Tamarod, that managed to allegedly gather more than 22 million signatures calling for a presidential reelection (BBC). After the oppositional stances fell on deaf ears yet again, the Egyptian public went down to the streets on the 1 year anniversary of the Brotherhood's ascension to power calling for said re-election that the MB would've surely lost, if done legitimately. After Morsi and the MB again refused to succumb to the people's wishes, the army, led by the now President Abdel Fatah El Sisi, stepped in to fulfill people's wishes in a controversial coup d'etat. The period that followed the coup has, thus far, brought back a massive oppression of the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership. After using force to quell the Rabaa protests, a violent debacle that included the death of over 600 MB supporters, Sisi's military regime has used the media to continuously defame the Brotherhood and their supporters (Al Ahram). As such, the truthful portrayal of the Brotherhood remains missing in Egyptian
  • 6. public opinion due to the contrary claims of both parties in question. In other words, the Sisi regime's portrayal of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group seems fairly far fetched given the absence of concrete evidence pointing to their involvement in objectively terrorist operations. On the other hand, the Brotherhood's claims that they remain the sole legitimate rulers of Egypt appears equally misguided given their complete rejection of the public's wishes during their 1 year stay in power. During this time, the MB's ideology has remained purely Islamic, by and large, in a huge illustration of their continued adherence to Banna's original ideology. An analysis of the shift in Muslim Brotherhood strategies throughout the years presents some very clear reasons behind them. Chief among these shifts, is the noticeable transformation of the Brotherhood from an organization to a fully fledged political party. The other major change lies in the decreased usage of Islamic and anti-colonial rhetoric in public discourses. Both transformations can't simply be chalked up to a change of leadership nor to a gradual stray from the original wishes of Hassan El Banna. As cliche it might sound, but everything indeed does happen for a reason, and the Brotherhood's actions are certainly no different. In fact, the outlined shift could be viewed as a highly imperative action on the Brotherhood's behalf in order to survive decades of government oppression inside the country. As such, the Brotherhood gradually moved away from Egypt's more secularized urban center to the countryside in order to obtain more political clout. Furthermore, the decreased usage of Islamic rhetoric in the public sphere could be seen as an adaptive measure that seeks to expand the party's support system given the unreceptive nature to religious entanglement with politics in different parts of Egypt.
  • 7. Instead, as previously alluded to, the Brotherhood instead focused on positioning itself as an alternative to the generally unsatisfactory political status quo in the country's pre- January 25th past. During their 1 year rule of Egypt between 2012 and 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood showed a relatively clear commitment to the values and ethos first introduced by their founding father, Banna, more than 70 years earlier. They routinely attempted to veil their Islamic values and aims through falsely exaggerating the impact that these decisions would have on the country's wellbeing. Thus, given what we now know about the Brotherhood, one could safely say that the policy shift in the organization was only done primarily in an effort to sway public opinion in a fashion that stresses on the Brotherhood's societal strengths, and hides away its perceived weaknesses. To sum up, a historical overview of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology illustrates that the organization is among the smartest, most resilient, and adaptive organizations inside Egypt and the Middle East as a whole. The group's shift from an organizational structure to a mainly political one needs to be viewed as a direct defense mechanism to counter the continuous anti-Brotherhood propaganda advocated by the country's ruling apparatus pre-Revolution. In other words, the Brotherhood's decreased use of Islamic and anti-colonial rhetoric in the public sphere coupled with their focus on being spread out throughout the country should be viewed as a willingness to do whatever is necessary to gain further power. Almost a century after its creation, the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology is still primarily derived from Banna's views about the need to unite the Islamic umma and to spread the religion's morals throughout the world. For proof, one only needs to look back at their brief rule of Egypt about two years ago. The passage of time made it
  • 8. clear to the Brotherhood that politics is a dirty game that involves constant manipulations to sway public opinion in order to achieve their goals. Their downfall after gaining power wasn't for lack of trying or smartness. Rather, it was primarily due to an unforgiving Egyptian climate that featured a rotten economic position coupled with their failure to forge an alliance with the country's strongest institution, the military. If history is any indication, though, the MB seem poised to rise up again, in one form or another, as a major political player in Egyptian politics due to their staunch resiliency. These manipulative, adaptive measures needn't be viewed as a negative, however, as many in the government will make us believe. Contrarily, they need to be viewed in a positive light as they signify a smart political movement in a country devoid of any.
  • 9. Works Cited: Mitchell, Richard P. "Transition to an Uncertain Future." The Society of the Muslim Brothers. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. 59-84. Print. Davidson, Lawrence. Islamic Fundamentalism. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998. 87-101. Print. Banna, Hassan Al. "Between Yesterday and Today." Egypt, Cairo. 11 May 2015. Speech. Shehata, Samer, and Joshua Stacher. "The Muslim Brothers in Mubarak's Last Decade." The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt. By Jeannie Lynn Sowers and Christopher J. Toensing. London: Verso, 2012. 160-78. Print. Kingsley, Patrick. "Protesters across Egypt Call for Mohamed Morsi to Go."The Guardian. N.p., 30 June 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. Hubbard, Ben, and David Kirkpatrick. "Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 July 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. "Profile: Egypt's Tamarod Protest Movement" BBC News. BBC, 1 July 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. "Death Toll from Egypt Violence Rises to 638: Health Ministry." Ahram Online. Al Ahram, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 May 2015.
  • 10. Works Cited: Mitchell, Richard P. "Transition to an Uncertain Future." The Society of the Muslim Brothers. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. 59-84. Print. Davidson, Lawrence. Islamic Fundamentalism. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998. 87-101. Print. Banna, Hassan Al. "Between Yesterday and Today." Egypt, Cairo. 11 May 2015. Speech. Shehata, Samer, and Joshua Stacher. "The Muslim Brothers in Mubarak's Last Decade." The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt. By Jeannie Lynn Sowers and Christopher J. Toensing. London: Verso, 2012. 160-78. Print. Kingsley, Patrick. "Protesters across Egypt Call for Mohamed Morsi to Go."The Guardian. N.p., 30 June 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. Hubbard, Ben, and David Kirkpatrick. "Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 July 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. "Profile: Egypt's Tamarod Protest Movement" BBC News. BBC, 1 July 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. "Death Toll from Egypt Violence Rises to 638: Health Ministry." Ahram Online. Al Ahram, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 May 2015.

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