By Professor Dr.Abdelrazak Ali:
The Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy

د. عبد الرزاق علي Ýí 2015-07-29

The Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy
By Professor Dr.Abdelrazak Ali
Conclusion. This paper does not claim to give cart Blanche to the current leadership in Cairo. But it argues for accompanying them as long as they implement their road-map for moving toward democracy. Remaining engaged with Egypt, the international community can continue its high-level policy dialogue in support of democratic reforms, and it can modulate its assistance to reflect progress on the road to democracy. Western aid needs to be used strategically and be combined with knowledge-sharing and technology-transfer to support democratization and help achieve the Egyptian people’s dream of “bread, liberty, social justice and human dignity.” This paper argues that the immediate objective of donor assistance should be to help achieve inclusive growth and social justice, which are necessary for democratic development. Areas where international community interventions could be of particular significance are: (1)building inclusive economic institutions, (2) supporting small and medium businesses, and (3) fighting rural poverty through agricultural projects and strengthening the social safety net system to protect small and landless farmers. In the political vacuum created by the Egyptian revolution, individual groups have often approached democracy not simply as an ideal to uphold, but as a means to achieve and sustain their power. Islamist and liberals alike are – naturally – trying to use democratic participation as a means to secure political gains.” Despite the Brotherhood’s electoral success, some Arab and Western journalists and intellectuals maintain that it is not and can never be a democratic actor. Islamist, on the other hand, argue that their opponents’ failure to respect the group’s repeated successes at the polls proves they are not true democrats. If democracy is to genuinely and successfully take hold in Egypt, both Islamist and their rivals need to go beyond rhetoric formed by ideological confrontation. Frankly speaking, for the Brotherhood to improve its image,  should act in a positive manner as a peaceful, non-violent  organization, has worked intensely within the framework of democracy, presumed to project its honest, peaceful, cooperative impulses. It can do this through four main efforts: engaging in genuine self-criticism and acknowledging recent mistakes, maintaining a record of keeping its protests peaceful, emphasizing the importance of societal dialogue and stating that the Muslim Brotherhood will not impose its interpretation of Islam on society. politics will force both liberals and Islamist to work with each other on issues of concern to both parties. Both Islamist and liberals should take into consideration, however, that there are new actors such as labor unions, employers’ associations, revolutionary groups and other civil society groups which gained a sense of empowerment after the revolution. Often, it is these groups that are most able to cross ideological lines and truly represent social interests. They constitute the real revolution in Egyptian society. Assuming that Egypt will be able to put together the kinds of institutional structure normally associated with democracy, it would be helpful here to examine the Muslim Brotherhood's evolution and position on democracy, so we may anticipate the difficulties attending the democratic integration of the movement. Conditions for the safe integration of Islamist currents in the democratic process is having state institutions which are durable and capable of setting the tone for the democratic process. This condition has been met in the case of Turkey but is absent in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and to some extent Pakistan. Turkey may exemplify a successful and peaceful integration of Islamist currents, while the latter countries are examples of failure. In the case of Palestine for example, Hamas remains outside the legacy of Palestinian national liberation (PLO), but when ascended power, rapidly preyed the Palestinian people through detention and deadly violence. The U.S. must learn to engage religious actors; not to write them a blank check, as it did for Mubarak, but to encourage their best tendencies towards human rights, democracy, and religious freedom and to hold them accountable when they veer from these values. In internal matters, Islamist might be expert (and increasingly sincere) democratic actors, but they are not liberal ones. When they speak of ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ (as the Brotherhood’s new party does), that freedom is primarily political (and not broadly social and cultural) and the view of justice is drawn from their conception and explanation of religious sources. Opportunity has emerged for the ‘safe integration’ of a major section of Islamic currents. But success will depend on the country’s ability to ‘build democracy first’. The country needs to first clarify the legal and constitutional framework by which any political current, especially the Islamist newcomers, should abide. 
The Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy
By Professor Dr.Abdelrazak Ali
Will Islam impel or impede democracy in Egypt? There is probably no question whose answer is less clear and more hotly debated than this one in the context of Egypt’s current transition. Even if Muslim Brotherhood(MB) supports democracy in Egypt, will they also support full religious freedom for Coptic Christians, who are 10% of the population, as well as Islamic dissenters? 
First, we should differentiate between MB as an organized entity and Islam as a holy religion. No one whatever he or she, or even any organized intity could exclusively be considered the representative of  Islam and allegedly speaking in the name of God. Consequently, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamist groups have no the right to monopolize the Islamic religion and seize Islamic principles according to their own rigid explanation.   
The standard charges against the Muslim Brotherhood include its incorporation of Hamas into its network, its calls for the destruction of the Israeli state, and its advocacy of a sharia state that might subordinate women and make religious minorities second class citizens. The Brotherhood contains evidence for all of these charges, it cannot be denied. Even today, the organization’s political platform opposes women and Christians being allowed to become president.
 It is worth remembering that, especially in the Islamic world, democratic institutions that involve elections do not always involve religious freedom as well. Witness Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Indonesia. So we may ask further: why religious freedom is a real concern in Islamic world?  Middle Eastern countries and Islamic world as a whole  have deep, complex histories. This part of the world is defined by thousands of years of embedded traditions with differing tribes, ethnicity, cultures and religions. Democracy here must develop through its own distinct cultural backgrounds. Achieving stable democratic states in the Middle East is no simple task. The region has endured centuries of autocratic, monarchic and dictatorial regimes that have weakened the will of the people, making democracy today seem like a distant, naive ideal.
In THE INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS REVIEW, Amanda had written this opinion before MB arrived power to rule Egypt "The US is leery of a lift on the ban on the Brotherhood, which is understandable given the religious motivation for the attacks of 9/11, but the fears are in fact unfounded. By accepting the Muslim Brotherhood into mainstream politics, allowing other parties more freedom to operate, and creating an atmosphere of fair representation,. Moreover, the group’s legalization would minimize their mystique by pulling extremism into the ring with moderates. No longer operating in the shadows, the Brothers’ political legitimacy would then be addressed and challenged in the public sphere(1) . 
to understand the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood movement we have to go back to its historical development, particularly in the post-1948 period. Historically, the movement, which was founded by Hassan Al-Banna in 1928, in the aftermath of the 1919-20 revolution and the continuing struggle against the reactionary bloc (comprising the monarchy, the great landlords, and the rich peasants). The movement was formed with the active support of the British embassy and the royal Palace (controlled by the British) and was inspired “by “Islamist” thought in its most backward “Salafist” version of Wahhabi, as formulated by Rashid Reda  i.e. the most reactionary, anti-democratic and against social progress version of the newborn “political Islam" (2)The movement initially aimed simply to spread Islamic morals and good works, but soon became involved in politics, particularly in the fight to rid Egypt of British colonial control and cleanse it of all Western influence, although what they meant by this was cultural influence and not economic one as well! Their main aim has always been the Minimization of Egypt’s political and cultural institutions and the promotion of sharia as the basis for legislation. This is summed up by its main slogan used worldwide: “Islam is the solution”. After its launching in 1928, branches were set up throughout the country; each running a mosque, a school and a sporting club. As a result, also, of this social activity its membership grew rapidly so that, by the late 1940, the movement is believed to have had as many as two million followers in Egypt, while its ideas had spread across the Arab world.The world has changed since 1928. The Brotherhood has always made pragmatic alliances with regimes; those of King Farouk from 1936; the Free Officers under Nasser (who ousted Farouk in 1952); and Sadat from 1970 (who used the Brothers against the Nasser-is and the left).(3) The tactical alliance with the Free Officers however was inevitably short lived as they had divergent political goals: the Muslim Brotherhood believed in the establishment of the Islamic  state, whereas the Nasser officers believed in a nationalist, secularist one. No wonder that a failed attempted assassination of Nasser in 1954 led to the brutal suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood and the imprisonment and sentencing to death of Sayd Qutb, one of its leading ideologues, which led to the jihadist movement. A year after Qutb’s death in 1966, Ayman al-Zawahiri, aged 16 at the time, set up a jihadist cell at his school and invited a few friends to join. In May 2011, Zawahiri became the leader of Al-Qaida, following the murder of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces. In fact, according to Fawaz A Gerges,(4) “the birth of the jihadist movement cannot be understood without reference to this great clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser’s forces.The Brotherhood’s relation with Western powers had started early on and even during the Second World War, the British viewed the Brotherhood as a possible counterweight against the secular nationalist party, "The Wafd", and the communists.(5)  
The Muslim Brotherhood has undergone many changes in the past three decades, during which time it maintained the essence of the mission stated by its founder, especially with regard to blending religious and political matters and asserting the broad spectrum of the movement’s mission, which covers all social, spiritual, political and cultural aspects of life. The assumption here is that Islam is an all-inclusive religion capable of leading its followers into a genuine renaissance. So while in time, the Muslim Brotherhood accepted the multi-party system and declared its belief in democracy as a means of managing the rivalry among various political forces, it remained a firm believer in combining religious preaching and political action.The Islamic groups can overlap, but the Brotherhood tends to stress on Islamic state and political organization, and its members have no prescribed mode of dress: In this sense they are a modern movement.The basic Choking Freedom tools currently employed are; Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes. These codes are widely used(implicitly or obviously) by all the Islamic-ally-oriented movements including the Muslim Brotherhood.   
A frequent contemporary worry of westerners is that too rapid a transition will favor the Brotherhood, which is far larger, older, and better organized than the other movements that led the recent democratic revolution. The Brotherhood is popular among Egyptians,. In a recent meeting with young democratic activists in Egypt, then, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton felt her “heart sink” when she realized how poorly organized secular democratic activist groups are in comparison with the Brotherhood and other Islamist. It was exactly such fears that Mubarak brandished in the face of the U.S. over the course of his reign of three decades, warning that should the U.S. retreat from its alliance with him or even make the alliance more conditional on progress towards democracy, rule by the Muslim Brotherhood would be the result
Far from being advocates of religious extremism, the Muslim Brotherhood like other Islamic-ally-oriented candidates and political parties in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, have allegedly opted for ballots, not bullets. For decades the Muslim Brotherhood, though officially illegal, has proven to be the largest and most effective opposition movement, politically and socially within mainstream Egyptian society.  It and other Islamic organizations have provided an effective social service network of schools, medical clinics, and youth camps, an effective alternative an indictment of the government’s inability to deliver these social services. Despite lack of access to media and the ability to hold public political rallies etc., the Brotherhood managed to emerge as the most effective opposition in Egypt’s rigged elections. In 2005, it took 20 per cent of parliamentary seats. The National Democratic Party (N D P), founded by Anwar Sadat and then led by Mubarak, has enjoyed uncontested power in state politics. At the same time, the government has controlled the creation and functioning of political parties, the government registers political parties and can and does intervene. The net result is that the Muslim Brotherhood, though technically illegal and not a political party, has been the main opposition movement. However, in the early 2011 revolution, Brotherhood did not initiate nor led the pro-democracy protest. and initially did not behave as an organization support the protest, although members of the Brotherhood have participated in protest demonstrations later.
From early 2011 to the middle of 2013, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood failed to lead an inclusive democratic transition, appreciate the full diversity of Egyptian society, and understand the need for a completely reinvented political culture. Brotherhood leaders did not marshal the resources, networks, and knowledge necessary for the implementation of effective reform policies. 
For the political inclusion of the Brotherhood to lead to the group’s democratization, two conditions were necessary. First, post-Mubarak Egypt required a consensus on new rules of the political game. Second, the Brotherhood needed to undergo an ideological and organizational transformation, including by embracing the principles of democracy, pluralism, individual freedoms, citizenship, and equality before the law. Neither of these conditions was fulfilled. The Brotherhood, however, pushed for its own interpretation of religious doctrine that did not treat all citizens equally and thus discriminated against the other religion, doctrine, and sectarian. 
Three Primary Faults
Politically; In the aftermath of Mubarak fall,  the Brotherhood misread the situation. It moved toward political domination too quickly, making a series of tactical mistakes in the process. It failed to either appease or successfully confront institutional power bases, and, believing its electoral victory to be an irreversible popular mandate, it was reluctant to make the concessions necessary to avoid alienating crucial secular elites. The Brotherhood waged an unwinnable battle, driven more by ideological zeal and delusions of grandeur than by a realistic assessment of the political environment.The Brotherhood’s rigid, hierarchical structure led the group to hold on to certain ideas that negatively impacted its political trajectory, particularly after it assumed power. These ideas were fourfold.
First, the organization showed a reductionist understanding of history. Brotherhood leaders selectively read Islamic and modern Egyptian history to serve their ideological project.
Second,  More than simply a political party, social association, or religious order, the Brotherhood became a society that supported its members through both vertical religious guidance and horizontal social solidarity, including the provision of Takaful (Islamic welfare). As a result, the group became inward-oriented and unable to relate to outsiders. This proved to be politically costly for the Brotherhood in power, as it raised suspicions and resentment among many people.
Third, the movement displayed a conspiratorial mind-set. Despite gaining political power, Brotherhood leaders remained paranoid and consistently complained about opposition conspiracies. The Brotherhood’s political failures, including Morse’s inability to fulfill his promise to achieve a “renaissance project” within his first hundred days, were blamed on “enemies” such as old regime remnants, a politicized judiciary, the deep state, and a hostile opposition. Such rhetoric about enemies and conspiracies invited calls for street mobilization to face these threats. (6)    it seemed strange for a movement that was no longer in opposition. At the same time, the Brotherhood’s incompetent political analysts misled its leaders about the size of the opposition, the balance of power with the old state, the policy objectives of the old state, and the Brotherhood’s dwindling popularity.(7)
Fourth, the Brotherhood showed a lack of reflection. Instead of critically understanding how and why things went wrong, addressing the roots of previous problems, and embarking on fresh, new paths, the Brotherhood resorted to a policy of escapism. The Brotherhood’s usual approach to crises was to raise other. For example, in November 2012, when the Brotherhood faced intense opposition to Morse  controversial presidential decrees, it diverted attention from them by calling for a popular vote on the newly drafted constitution in December. The move worked in the short run, but it cost the Brotherhood long-term credibility.
For too long, Western governments have supported authoritarian regimes and subordinated the desire of peoples in Egypt and many other parts of the Arab world for broader political participation and human rights. As a result, majorities in some 35 Muslim nations surveyed by the Gallup World Poll did not believe that the U.S. was serious about the establishment of democratic systems in the region. Only 24 per cent in Egypt and Jordan and only 16 per cent in Turkey agreed that the United States was serious about establishing democratic systems. 
In the political vacuum created by the Egyptian revolution, individual groups have often approached democracy not simply as an ideal to uphold, but as a means to achieve and sustain their power. Islamist and liberals alike are – naturally – trying to use democratic participation as a means to secure political gains. Detractors of each camp, meanwhile, point to ways in which the other is in fact “undemocratic.” Despite the Brotherhood’s electoral success, some Arab and Western journalists and intellectuals maintain that it is not and can never be a democratic actor. Islamist, on the other hand, argue that their opponents’ failure to respect the group’s repeated successes at the polls proves they are not true democrats. If democracy is to genuinely and successfully take hold in Egypt, both Islamist and their rivals need to go beyond rhetoric formed by ideological confrontation.
Ideologically, the Brotherhood was shallow and opportunistic. It proved too willing to sacrifice elements of its ideology for short-term political victories. Furthermore, fundamentally anti-democratic components of Brotherhood faith can be briefly .
Components of Undemocratic Brotherhood Ideology. The Islamist ideology effectively discriminated against women, non-Muslims, and anyone who was not an Islamist. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, it eschewed liberal values of pluralism, tolerance, and respect for individual freedoms in favor of theocratic intolerant notions of communal discipline and authoritative control. While Brotherhood leaders were preoccupied with “Islamic constraints” on freedom and pluralism, they paid little attention to the need for an Islamic argument in favor of these values. In the aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, the Brotherhood’s previous “gray zones” and ambiguous policy positions on questions of human rights, the status of women and minorities, and the rule of law became clearly authoritarian.(8) 
Organizationally, the Brotherhood was incapable of adaptation. Its rigid, hierarchical sect structure prevented it from successfully reacting to rapid societal changes. Its sectarian doctrine driven it to prioritize loyalty over competence and unity over diversity, and to employ religion in a polarizing way to win political battles. Favoritism and clientele dominated an organization already tarnished by the mysteriousness of its internal structure. A zero-sum approach to political conflicts and the Over-extension of its organizational capacities sapped the Brotherhood of its adaptive flexibility and led to exodus of fresh talent and ideas. 
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt remained tied to an eclectic combination of the old dogma of its founder Hassan Al-Banna and former leading ideologue Sayd Qutb that limited the organization to superficial adaptation to new circumstances. While some analysts have argued that the Brotherhood’s conservative, closed-minded worldview was the result of a process of “Ruralization” in which leaders from rural backgrounds influenced the group’s ideological development, in reality the Brotherhood’s ideological deficiencies were more fundamental (9).
Ironically, Brotherhood doctrine said very little about the institutions or structures of its Islamic state. In practice, the concept was reduced to signifying a state dominated exclusively by the Brotherhood itself. In this sense, the movement proclaimed a monopoly on the definition of Islamic identity and labeled itself the exclusive representative of Islam, effectively asserting that it was the Muslim group rather than simply one group of Muslims among many, despite rhetoric to the contrary.(10)  Its members considered the Brotherhood to be the ideal Islamic organization, pure of the filth that infected the rest of society.
But did this series of events signify the end of political Islam in Egypt? Yes and no. Islamist movements will remain key political actors with an ideologically committed constituency and decades of accumulated social capital. This key position will remain strong given the obvious organizational incompetence of the opposition and its lack of political resources. If allowed to participate in elections, Islamist will gain a portion of the vote that will, at a minimum, include its sizable core constituency .(11)
It is also clear that the regionally supported state defiance and societal rejection have stopped the Muslim Brotherhood’s pursuit of an Islamic state and political hegemony. The Brotherhood’s tenure and overthrow represented the end of the Utopian idea that “Islam is the solution.” Among Islamist and non-Islamist alike, it became evident that Islamic slogans were irrelevant when it came to the Brotherhood’s capacity to deliver substantive policy achievements.Perhaps more significant than their impact on the fate of Islamism in Egypt, the three years following the 2011 revolution firmly invalidated the idea that Islamist movements, if included in a democratic system, will moderate and democratize. This proved not to be the case for the Muslim Brotherhood, which remained unwilling to undergo necessary ideological and organizational transformations and lacked a favorable political context for democratization. Yet current events in Egypt will likely equally invalidate the idea that it is possible to finish off Islamist movements by force or establish an Islamist-free political sphere.
Ironically,  the same Nasser-Brotherhood scenario that dealt a lethal blow and subsequent crackdown to the Brotherhood’s dreams of Islamic state  has also furnished the movement with a new narrative of victim hood capable of sustaining it in the future. This is another life saving factor for the Brotherhood. 
(1) Democracy Promotion: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood
(2) Samir Amin, “2011: An Arab Springtime? Reflections from Egypt,” Europe Solidare Sans Frontiers (15/5/2011). HTTP:// 21911#top
(3) See: Alaa al-Din Arafat, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood divides.”
(4) Fawaz A Georges: “This Brotherhood has a real sense of purpose,” The Independent (7/2/2011).
(5)  Jack Shenker & Brian Whitaker, “A rare glimpse into the world of the Muslim Brotherhood,” The Guardian (9/2/2011).
(6) As happened on December 1, 2012, when Islamist organized a mass demonstration in front of Cairo University in Giza.
(7) In a meeting on June 23, 2013, between the Brotherhood’s guidance bureau and other Islamist leaders, including leaders of the Salafist Call, to discuss the upcoming protests expected on June 30, the Brotherhood downplayed the expected scale of the protests. One member of the guidance bureau said, “Under Morse we have had 25 major opposition demonstrations. This will be the 26th, and nothing will change.” Author’s interview with a Brotherhood guidance bureau member, July 2013.
(8) As the Brotherhood came to power, this creeping authoritarianism became clear in the less-than-democratic 2012 constitution it drafted, the restrictive draft laws it adopted on social associations, protests, trade unions, and media, the hate speech it directed at the opposition, and its continuation of the repressive policies toward political activists initiated under Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
(9) Hossam Tammam, a researcher of Islamic movements, has written about the “Ruralization” of the Brotherhood. Hossam Tammam, The Brothers and the Pre-Revolution Years (Cairo: Dar al-Shorouq, 2012).
(10) This reading of the Brotherhood as the Muslim group is evident from the writings of Sayd and Muhammad Qutb, Muhammad Ahmad Al-Rashid, Fathy Yakan, Said Hawwa, Mustafa Mashhour, and Munir al-Ghadban. These are key Brotherhood thinkers, and their literature is central to the group’s indoctrination program.
(11) It is difficult to give an exact figure for this Islamist core constituency, given the different results in the parliamentary elections and the two rounds of presidential elections. However, the number is likely around the 5.8 million voters who cast their ballots for Morse in the first round of the presidential election, given the depiction of Morse as the only Islamist candidate in the race. This represents about one-quarter of the electorate in Egypt.
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