Muslim Brotherhood ripe for re-radicalization
August 15th, 2013
09:09 AM ET

Muslim Brotherhood ripe for re-radicalization

By Mohammed Ayoob, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University, and Adjunct Scholar at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He is author of the upcoming bookWill the Middle East Implode?' The views expressed are his own.

Wednesday’s massacre by the security forces in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt has left hundreds dead and perhaps thousands more injured. The old order is lashing out with ferocity against those who dared challenge it. What is worse, a substantial segment of the Egyptian public – mesmerized by the rhetoric of the military brass and its civilian henchmen – consider this a “restoration of democracy” to use John Kerry’s Orwellian term to describe the July 3 military coup.

It is becoming increasingly clear that history is repeating itself as tragedy in Egypt, although with its own peculiar twist. This year reminds me of 1954, when Colonel Nasser, who had led the Egyptian military coup against the then corrupt monarchy in 1952 with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood, turned against his Islamist allies, banned the party, threw its leaders in jail and ultimately executed several of them. The Brotherhood, which had emerged into the open after years of clandestine activity against the monarchy, was forced underground once again.

More important, the events of 1954 started the process of radicalization of the Muslim Brotherhood under its chief ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, who helped spawn militant and extremist groups that engaged in dramatic acts of violence and terror, including the assassination of Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, in 1981.

More from CNN: Why Morsi is key to future

The ideological reaction to Nasser’s crackdown on the Brotherhood was far more significant since it led to the emergence of what came to be known as Qutbism, named after the activist and intellectual who popularized this strand of Islamist thought through his writings (most of which were composed while undergoing torture in Nasser’s jails). Qutb’s central thesis was that Egypt under Nasser (and by implication the rest of the Muslim world under secular nationalist and often authoritarian regimes) had reverted to the age of jahiliyaa, pre-Islamic ignorance, and that it was the duty of the believers to overthrow political systems that reflected jahiliyya and re-install hakimiyya, the sovereignty of God or a political system based on Islamic law that enjoined fairness and equity among human beings.

Qutb’s more extremist followers took his ideas to what they considered to be their logical conclusion. They argued that since no compromise was possible between the two poles of jahiliyya and hakimiyya it was a zero-sum game where one party had to lose completely for the other to be victorious. This was the case not only because of ideological polarization, but also because the secular, authoritarian regimes, according to Qutb’s followers, would not tolerate political participation on the part of Islamist groups and movements. Therefore, they argued, it was an Islamic duty for the believers to rise up in arms to overthrow these repressive and taghuti (Satanic) regimes.

It took the Muslim Brotherhood about three decades to fully shake off the impact of Qutb’s ideology and decide to take part in Egyptian politics, even though the Mubarak regime severely circumscribed its activities and never allowed it to form a legal political party. The Brotherhood came to accept the rules of the game despite the fact that elections were openly rigged and, more generally, the political cards were stacked against it. Its perseverance paid off when, after Mubarak’s ouster, it received a plurality of votes in the parliamentary elections and its candidate won the presidency even if by a narrow margin. It seemed that the Brotherhood’s integration into the democratic system was now almost complete.

Unfortunately, the coup of July 3, the killing of Muslim Brotherhood supporters by the security forces thereafter and Wednesday’s massacre of hundreds of Brotherhood members and sympathizers has irreversibly damaged the process of Egypt’s largest and most important Islamist party’s integration into the democratic process.

Wednesday’s events must have made clear to the Brotherhood faithful, not only in Egypt but across the Arab world, that Qutb and his disciples were right and that politics in the Muslim world is indeed a zero sum game and the taghuti (Satanic) regimes will never allow Islamist political formations access to political power.

The time is therefore ripe for the rise of another Sayyid Qutb and his call to arms. If this happens – and it seems more than likely – it will be the beginning of another chain of violence and counter-violence. And it would also likely have significant international implications, not least for the United States, whose Secretary of State has in effect endorsed the coup as a “restoration of democracy.”

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Topics: Egypt • Islam • Middle East • Terrorism

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Delex.

    There's a popular adage over there in Africa which says that-Trouble is sleeping and yanga is disturbing its sleep. I just pray and hope that this prediction doesn't come to real for Egyptians.

    August 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      The "trouble" you meant was the suppressed ambition of the Brotherhood to be part of the political process all these years.
      Morsi's supporters are too dogmatic and the military junta in Egypt oppressive. The intransigence on both sides is the root of all evils. People like El Baradei have no place in Egypt. His vision of an Egypt is an inclusive country of rule of law and social justice for everybody. His urge for compromise and create a win-win situation fell on deaf ears.

      August 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  2. Matt A.

    Really! Re-radicalization? To the majority who follow the storyline, the Brotherhood is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda.

    August 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Ibrahim

      Matt,

      Don't be foolish. Educate yourself before posting garbage, If the MB is an offshoot of AlQaeda than then Netanyahu is an offshoot of the Ergun

      August 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
      • abo alarabi

        very clear that u r one of the muslim brother hood dont be angry we can say that alqaeda is an of shoot of brother hood

        August 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • abo alarabi

      ALQAEDA IS OFFSHOOT Muslim brother hood also ALJIHAD HAMAS MBH is there mother even dr iman el zohry was one MB

      August 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  3. Rozbeh

    Not sure why Obama does not read Fareed's comment about measure issues! Fareed advised him 4 years ago "First economy Second economy and Third economy", Obama went for Health care though. Few weeks ago, Fareed mentioned that not condemning a coup could have consequences and here we go....

    August 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • obama ben laden

      The engine of American foreign policy has been fueled not by a devotion to any kind of morality, but rather by the necessity to serve other imperatives, which can be summarized as follows:
      * making the world safe for American corporations;
      * enhancing the financial statements of defense contractors at home who have contributed generously to members of congress;
      * preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model;
      * extending political and economic hegemony over as wide an area as possible, as befits a "great power."
      This in the name of fighting a supposed moral crusade against what cold warriors convinced themselves, and the American people, was the existence of an evil International Communist Conspiracy, which in fact never existed, evil or not.
      The United States carried out extremely serious interventions into more than 70 nations in this period.
      China, 1945-49:
      Italy, 1947-48:
      Greece, 1947-49:
      Philippines, 1945-53:
      South Korea, 1945-53:
      Albania, 1949-53:
      Germany, 1950s:
      Iran, 1953:
      Guatemala, 1953-1990s:
      Middle East, 1956-58:
      Indonesia, 1957-58:
      British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64:
      Vietnam, 1950-73
      Cambodia, 1955-73:
      The Congo/Zaire, 1960-65:
      Brazil, 1961-64:
      Dominican Republic, 1963-66:
      Cuba, 1959 to present:
      Indonesia, 1965:
      Chile, 1964-73:
      Greece, 1964-74:
      East Timor, 1975 to present:
      Nicaragua, 1978-89:
      Grenada, 1979-84:
      Libya, 1981-89:
      Panama, 1989:
      Iraq, 1990s:
      Afghanistan, 1979-92:
      El Salvador, 1980-92:
      Haiti, 1987-94:
      Yugoslavia, 1999:

      August 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  4. MUD MAN ROBS MARK

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    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com.
    CITIZENS SELL TO HUMAN RACE STUDIES.
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    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com.'
    CITIZENS SELL TO HUMAN RACE STUDIES.
    POLITICS IN MASIV ASESSINTIONS.
    OBAMA, HARPER, SANTOS, KIRSHNER KFC MONSANTO, RUSEF, SPAIN KING, MERKEL, THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND.

    NARCOTRAFIC TROUTH SATELITAL SURVILLANCE.

    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com.
    CITIZENS SELL TO HUMAN RACE STUDIES.
    POLITICS IN MASIV ASESSINTIONS.
    OBAMA, HARPER, SANTOS, KIRSHNER KFC MONSANTO, RUSEF, SPAIN KING, MERKEL, THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND.

    NARCOTRAFIC TROUTH SATELITAL SURVILLANCE.

    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com.
    CITIZENS SELL TO HUMAN RACE STUDIES.
    POLITICS IN MASIV ASESSINTIONS.
    OBAMA, HARPER, SANTOS, KIRSHNER KFC MONSANTO, RUSEF, SPAIN KING, MERKEL, THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND.

    NARCOTRAFIC TROUTH SATELITAL SURVILLANCE.

    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com.
    CITIZENS SELL TO HUMAN RACE STUDIES.
    POLITICS IN MASIV ASESSINTIONS.
    OBAMA, HARPER, SANTOS, KIRSHNER KFC MONSANTO, RUSEF, SPAIN KING, MERKEL, THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND.

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    August 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  5. elam

    We as Egyptian accused foreign governments and international media of ignoring recent attacks on Egypt’s Christian communities and misrepresenting the Al-Nahda Square and Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square sit-ins as peaceful.
    We claim that the violence that swept the country following the clearing of the sit-ins was the Muslim Brotherhood’s “plan B” for either regaining power or “bringing the entire Egyptian house down with them.”
    In a statement published in English on Thursday our ministry of foreign affairs said: “Beyond overlooking the violent and dangerous reality of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, a number of foreign governments and international media outlets have also chosen to overlook the recent increase in killings and attacks that are once again targeting Egypt’s Christian community.”
    Attack was after the sit-ins in Cairo and Giza were dispersed. “Mobs of Moslem [sic] Brotherhood members and their supporters, at the behest of extremist preachers, are threatening and attacking Egypt’s Christians.”
    Because of the recent international attention given to the situation in Egypt, “it is only natural” for Egyptians to “wonder why foreign governments and international media outlets have decided to exclude the intensified attacks on the Egypt’s Christian community from their field of vision.”
    We stressed: “The Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins were not exclusively peaceful gatherings, and they posed a clear danger to Egypt’s national security.”

    August 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  6. Matt A.

    Ibrahim: Please educate me. Tell me this revolution had nothing to do with the islamization of Egypt's government.

    Please tell me the MB is about Western-style democracy.

    August 15, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  7. 100 % ETHIO

    Since it is impossible to disarm everyone around the Globe, it is also very-difficult to stop blood shade, anywhere.

    Shame-on! For those who have satanic-mentality. They created Weapons to destroyed everyone.

    If there weren't weapon, no one will be killed and the mind-sets of arguments/agreements would be discussed without gunshots.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  8. Dr. Nsionu Ifeanyi

    The U S and the entire western world have betrayed Egypt just at the time the latter needed to be supported. The US is the most confused. Apart from Israel no middle east country has democracy. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, all these are west-friendly Arab nations, including Egypt under Mubarak. Selling western democracy to the countries in the middle east will not work. These people do not need it. What they need to maintain peace is tough leaders like Mubarak, Sadam Hussein, Assad of Syria. Attempts to remove such strong leaders breeds a platform for anarchy and extremism. America should understand this. John Mccain and Graham should know this fact.

    August 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  9. observer1776

    Re-radicalization??
    That is a lie.
    The MB never stopped being radical.
    It put on a mask of moderation to achieve power.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:16 am |
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    December 1, 2013 at 11:12 am |
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    September 29, 2016 at 1:45 am |

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