The Muslim Brotherhood has mastered the art of double discourse, and they are very careful and moderate about what they say in public in the West, an expert on Political Islam told a symposium on Tuesday (September 29).
Addressing the First Annual TRENDS Political Islam Forum – Ideological foundation of Muslim Brotherhood: Misrepresentation and manipulation – Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, USA, said that the mood in Europe is changing, as is evident in the statements of Emmanuel Macron of France and Sebastian Kurz of Austria.
“There is a misconception about the Brotherhood in Western countries. For the most part, it operates within the law, which makes it tricky for the governments in Europe to designate them as terrorists,” said Dr. Vidino. However, he also noted that the Brotherhood’s ideology and activities are increasingly seen as highly problematic, especially in Europe.
According to him, there is a growing understanding that Brotherhood’s presence in Europe brings about a security problem. “Their narrative leads people to radicalization and is problematic for the social cohesion and integration of Muslim communities as well,” he said.
Dr. Vidino has authored a book The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West, which is currently being translated by TRENDS Research & Advisory. The Annual TRENDS Political Islam Forum will include five symposiums till December 22, discussing five related themes.
Dr. Mohammed Farid Azzi, Researcher and Expert in Political Sociology and Opinion Polls at the TRENDS Research & Advisory, said that the Brotherhood failed to rule as it could not develop its political discourse to meet the requirements of the authority of governance based on the modern concepts of the nation-state and citizenship.
“Trust in the Islamist political parties, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, has declined considerably, and their popularity and legitimacy are at its lowest among the Arab public, dropping from 47.5 percent to 19.8 percent between 2011 and 2019,” Dr. Farid said.
He said that the Brotherhood ideology has evolved at its periphery but remained almost unchanged in its hardcore convictions since the days of Al-Banna. “At an intellectual level, the Brotherhood’s heritage is devoid of intellectual diligence that expresses an integrated project. The Brotherhood approached Islamic intellectual stream selectively, which served its political objective of tightening its grip on both the society and the state,” he said.
However, Dr. Abdelmonem Said Aly, a member of the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS), Egypt, posited that, despite setbacks, the Brotherhood would be around for a long time. “The Muslim Brotherhood has the ability to spread and should be seen as an international organization. In essence, according to Dr. Abdelmonem, it is a totalitarian regime with its ideology being discriminatory and infused with racial views of the world.
“Similar to all totalitarian organizations, the Brotherhood is characterized by an extremist ideology, plan of action, a hierarchical system led by a supreme guide, a supreme council to make sure the ideology is implemented, masses of loyal soldiers and supporters, and characterized by acts of violence and terrorism,” Dr. Abdelmonem said.
The E-Symposium was live-streamed on the TRENDS YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/TrendsRA and other social media platforms.