Final Research Report
December 2nd 2014
The topic that I have chosen to both investigate and write about on my blog this semester is the Muslim Brotherhood. Throughout the course of the semester I have broken down the Muslim Brotherhood and wrote about the specifications and characteristics that make up this political and religious group. More specifically, I have focused on the Muslim Brotherhood in the context of the Arab Spring and how it has been reshaped to fit a modern mold during this past decade of revolution and change. In my first few blogs I touched on the topic of ‘influence’ from the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S and on the Obama Administration. As I continued my research on the Brotherhood my focus became more and more narrow as I began to develop a better understand of the Brotherhood and its role in the modern world.
As a way of developing a good analysis of my research on the Muslim Brotherhood, I will first start with the groundwork for which it has built its ideology. The Muslim Brotherhood is not simply a religion but rather a political group. Not only does it see Islam as its foundation for belief, it sees it as its foundation for life. At its core, it rejects secularism and advocates a return to the days of the prophet Muhammad and the Quran. According to the Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Chairman Mohammad Ma’mun El Hudaibi, “the Muslim Brotherhood is based on two “key pillars”: “reintroducing the Islamic Sharia as the basis for the way of life,” and “working to achieve unification among Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism.” For the sake of brevity and this paper, I do not need to go into the great detail of the history of the Brotherhood. That being said, it is important to understand why they are so important in Egypt and in the context of the Arab Spring. For one, they are the largest opposition group ever in Egypt. Not only that, over the past decades leading up to the revolutions in Cairo and across Egypt, it has been heavily supported by the middle class and its members are in control of many of the country’s biggest organizations. Although it is illegal under Egyptian law for any religious organization to hold a political party, in 2011, the Brotherhood took control of the elections, which led to the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsy in 2012.
Now that I have laid the groundwork for the Brotherhood and its ideology, I will now break down the specific issues that revolve around the Brotherhood and how it is seen on a political and globalized level.
The first important issue to identify is the Muslim Brotherhood being not only the biggest opposition group in Egypt, but also acting as a terrorist organization. This was one of the main points of focus in my research this semester because of how relevant it is on a global scale. As I outlined in my blog, although the Brotherhood was targeted as a terrorist group as far back as last December, it wasn’t until recently that they are really being globally recognized as such. This decision falls under the power of the United Arab emirates, along with Saudi Arabia and the kingdom of Bahrain who see the Brotherhood as meddling in other country’s affairs and causing chaos in the regions through acts of both extreme violence and terror. It was for this reason that Mohamed Morsy, who usurped Hosni Mubarak did not stay in office very long. Egypt, Saudi Arabia are not the only countries who see the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, Syria and Russia also see the Brotherhood as a serious threat to their nations. However, despite allegations of being a terrorist organization, the Brotherhood insists that it is a peaceful organisation. The Brotherhood points to its democratic elections and spoken renouncement against violence to prove these nations otherwise. Although, the persistent history of violence from the Brotherhood proves otherwise.
Another important research question that I have chosen to investigate in my research is the question of ‘identity’. Especially that of religious identity. It has been made apparent through my research that for many decades, especially in recent years, that the Muslim Brotherhood has seen some sort of division. Many would argue that they have completely lost their religious identity ever since they turned to violence as an outlet for change. According to my research, the Brotherhood has expressed itself as an active political opposition by portraying itself as the religious option. A political realist would say that they are using religion to justify their military violence and political maneuvers. On the flip side to this, some argue that during the Egyptian elections that took place in the midst of the Arab Spring, the Brotherhood shifted its stance on conservative radicalism into a force that is more suitable to democratic governance. However, history shows us that this was not how the Arab Spring unfolded. During the Arab Spring, time and time again the Brotherhood acted with violent force throughout the streets of Cairo. Even the Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsy was charged with several heinous crimes. I would argue that this division that ensued both during and after the Arab Spring in an issue of ‘pragmatism’. I would also argue that the division was not simply cut right down the middle. After extended research of the Brotherhood I would argue that there was a lot of unrest in the hearts of the members of the Brotherhood because they were torn on what to do. As a class we saw many personal accounts of this unrest and uneasiness through one on one interviews of members. Although there are many global perspectives to view this internal transition within the membership of the brotherhood, I feel many of the members of the brotherhood themselves had mix feelings and perspectives on what to do and how to act in this time of complete bedlam in Egypt. Of course there were those that felt that in order to meet the end goal of going back to the times of Muhammad, the best move was cowboyism and brute force through military action. This would be the political realists perspective. Without a doubt this is clearly the perspective that the majority of Brotherhood members held. However, I also feel that along with the political realist perspective, the radicalist perspective is somewhat integral to the Muslim Brotherhood ideology and belief. Radicalists believe not only in national self reliance, but also in protecting themselves and their beliefs from total imperialism. Some would argue that these two perspectives fly in the face of one another.
The last point that needs to be examined and made clear is the way in which the Muslim Brotherhood and just the Middle East is portrayed and framed in the Media; especially, in the West. This was one of my main points of focus in my blog post. It is well known that the Western media both skews and warps the ways in which the Middle East, certain individuals and parties are portrayed in the media. Although, more interesting than the way the West portrays certain bodies is the way in which certain parties and groups respond to the West’s interpretations. According to an article Islamism beyond the Muslim Brotherhood, both the West and the East are shaping and changing the ways in which certain people are seen. However, what is even more interesting is the way in which the Muslim Brotherhood is not being portrayed. Through my research I have found almost all of the sources I found with regards to media are labeling the Muslim Brotherhood as a corrupt threat to the rest of the world. Even if that threat is not a direct one.
In this paper I have not only summed up my research and analysis from this semester, but I have also made clear my main points of focus using Controversies in Globalization and other sources.