Friday, February 04, 2011

Much of the commentary on the role of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt fails to appreciate the debates and developments that have been underway within the Brotherhood and on its margins.

My study of Hizb al-Wasat may provide some timely background on the debates, the role of the government and the ideological and inter-generational debates. The study appears in Remaking Muslim Politics, a volume edited by Robert W. Hefner, which is published by Princeton University Press in 2005.

This 2002 article may also be helpful.

See this recent post as well.

[Added on February 7, 2011:

Daniela Pioppi, on the Islamist Alternative in Egypt; and Carrie Rosefsky Wickham on the Ikhwan.  Pioppi offers a scholarly assessment, which ends on a note of pessimism regarding the Ikhwan's capacity and political health.  As such, her assessment is complementary to the far more extensive as yet unpublished work of Ashraf el-Sherif, who I have referenced here before.  The timely Wickham piece is a concise and informed summary of the political evolution of the Ikhwan from its founding to the present.  Other than getting the date wrong for the emergence of Hizb al-Wasat (it is 2005, not 2006; the party first sought legal status in 2006 but the origins are in late 2005) is a useful precis.  Wickham's closing sentences:

"With a track record of nearly 30 years of responsible behavior (if not rhetoric) and a strong base of support, the Muslim Brotherhood has earned a place at the table in the post-Mubarak era. No democratic transition can succeed without it."]

[Added Feb. 12, 2011: Essam el-Errian on what the Brothers want.]

This January 2007 piece by Hala Mustafa and I deals with Egyptian regime strategy for dealing with liberal opposition groups.

"Today, Egypt’s non-Islamist opposition finds that nearly any serious effort to organize politically is snuffed out by the regime, and access to the statecontrolled media is typically prevented. Why is this so? Because, as in other Middle Eastern countries, Islamists are unlikely to be regarded by the United States and other major Western powers as a palatable alternative to the existing regimes. So who cares if they are afforded space in the arena of ideas? This allows government officials to wag their fingers at the Americans, mumble “Hamas,” and say, “Is that what you want?” It suits the interests of the rulers that the Americans should hear only one credible voice in opposition, uttering views that are
considered dangerous. The legitimation of thoughtful, committed, liberal reformers who give voice to an attractive, secular, alternative view of politics is to be avoided at all costs."

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