Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website

Tue109 2018

Last update19:14 PM GMT

Back to Homepage
Font Size : 12 point 14 point 16 point 18 point
:: Opinions > Other Opinions
How the Islamists have changed
 How the Islamists have changedThe Arabist NetworkFriday 20 May 2005How the Islamists have changed From Roula Khalaf’s article on democracy and Islamists in the Financial Times:  The Islamists, however, have learned from the mistakes of the past and now   adopt a more democratic rhetoric and espouse nationalist goals. This evolution   has been acc
Wednesday, May 18,2005 00:00
by Financial Times

 How the Islamists have changed
The Arabist NetworkFriday 20 May 2005
How the Islamists have changed

From Roula Khalaf’s article on democracy and Islamists in the Financial Times:
  The Islamists, however, have learned from the mistakes of the past and now
  adopt a more democratic rhetoric and espouse nationalist goals. This evolution
  has been accentuated by the global war on terrorism, which has raised
  international pressure on the more radical groups, making political
  participation a necessary protection.
  “Islamists have made strides. Most mainstream Islamists are talking about
  constitutional change and about accommodation with regimes,” says Alistair
  Crooke, a former British intelligence officer and former security adviser to
  the European Union. “The most fundamental change is that Islamists don’t say
  it’s inconsistent to be Islamist and nationalist. So we now have a very potent
  mix of demands for popular reforms and nationalism. You can’t offer an
  alternative programme against this.”
  Mr Crooke, now director of the UK-based Conflict Forum, has been advocating
  dialogue between western officials and some of the radical Islamist
  organisations. Last month, he took a group of Americans and Europeans, some of
  them ex-officials and intelligence officers, to Beirut to meet representatives
  from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah. “If you incite expectations
  of change and you demonise and delegitimise all protest movements that aren’t
  secular and western, then don’t be surprised if it all erupts in violence,” he
  says.
I point this out because Crooke is an interesting character and his Beirut
initiative is, I suspect, part of what the Egyptian regime is scared of when it
talks of contacts between Islamists and Western officials. But the article as a
whole is worth reading while you can, before it becomes subscription-only.
8 Responses to “How the Islamists have changed”
  praktike Says:
  May 20th, 2005 at 5:34 pm
  This is reminiscent of what Amr Hamzawy has been talking about at great
  length–that the Islamists are increasingly delineating their political space
  along nationalist lines rather than decrying those boundaries are artifical
  divisions of the umma. BTW, apropos of Crooke, did you see this interview?
  Chanad Says:
  May 21st, 2005 at 1:56 am
  I’m not an FT subscriber, so I haven’t read the entire article. But I do want
  to comment a bit on the excerpt that has been posted above.
  I don’t think it’s true that Islamists have only recently started to adopt
  democratic and nationalist rhetoric. Almost all Islamist groups have at some
  point desired to participate in some form of electoral system to take control
  of the state. Ikhwan in Egypt, Jamaat in Pakistan, FIS in Algeria, Hamas,
  Hezbollah, Refah in Turkey, etc. (Iran is the exception which needs alot more
  space to explain).
  In the cases where they were denied this did the groups seek to take control
  of the state by overthrowing the prevailing regimes using violence if
  necessary. An example is the GIA in Algeria which arose after the FIS was
  denied its electoral victory. Or the way the Ikhwan in Egypt became
  radicalized (and Islamic Jihad arose) after being banned.
  And with regards to nationalism, I think Olivier Roy makes quite a good case
  in “The Failure of Political Islam” to show that Islamist groups are forced to
  adopt nationalistic rhetoric and symbols in order to perform in the State.
  But all of this rests on us using Roy’s specific definition of Islamists… not
  the current usage of the term as a catch-all for any non-secular Muslim.
  Groups like Al Qaeda, or Hizb ut Tahrir (which are not Islamist) have no
  democratic or nationalistic amibitions.
  Issandr El Amrani Says:
  May 21st, 2005 at 11:32 am
  Chanad - I agree with you. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have been
  nationalist since the beginning, they were anti-British to start with.
  Actually few Islamists groups are internationalists, which I suppose is
  chiefly represented by the aim of restoring the caliphate.
  Also, here is the FT story in full:

  US democracy drive heartens the Islamists: If the US attempt to promote
  democracy in the Middle East succeeds, it is Islamists who will get elected,
  writes Roula Khalaf
  By Roula Khalaf
  Financial Times 20 May 2005
  When the Saudi authorities, prodded by the US,decided to hold the country’s
  first nationwide municipal elections earlier this year, independent clerics
  critical of the government professed a lack of interest. The experiment with
  democracy, they claimed, was too minor a concession from the ruling al-Saud
  family. The local councils, they said, had no real powers.
  Behind the scenes, however, a group of influential clerics worked to back a
  select group of male candidates (women were barred from participating).
  Through text messages and Islamist internet sites - modern tools of election
  campaigning that were, however, used more secretly - they sought to influence
  voters’ choices.
  Their efforts paid off. The biggest winners in the elections were “Islamist
  technocrats”, people who advocate a continued prominent role for religion as
  well as political reforms and are opposed to the kingdom’s close relations
  with the US.
  The Islamist victory in local councils, at least in the short term, will not
  make much of a difference, given the institutions’ feeble powers. But the
  Saudi case illustrates a broader trend in the region, where Islamist movements
  are attempting to capitalise on the democratic ferment of recent months, and
  to take advantage of the international pressures on Arab regimes to
  democratise.
  The Islamists’ enthusiasm for the democratic process may be a sign of greater
  moderation. But it is an unfortunate result for the Bush administration, which
  had hoped that promoting freedom in the Middle East would benefit above all
  liberal-minded activists that shared its secular values.
  “It’s a real dilemma for the US,” says Danielle Pletka, a vice-president at
  the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “On one side
  you want to say democracy is democracy, but you also recognise other groups
  haven’t had the opportunity Islamists have had.”
  The attitude the US should adopt towards Islamist movements is now at the
  centre of the debate over democratisation. When asked, American officials
  point to Iraq to say they have no problem with the outcome of democracy in the
  Middle East. “In practice, there are still a lot of questions and concerns
  about how the US should interact with Islamist movements - concerns because
  it’s not always clear which groups have unequivocally renounced violence,”
  says Tamara Cofman Wittes, research fellow at the Brookings Institution’s
  Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
  The first wake-up call for the US was the sweeping victory of a largely
  Islamist Shia alliance in the January elections in Iraq and the poor showing
  of more secular forces such as former prime minister Ayad Allawi’s coalition.
  For now, the new government, which owes its existence to the US invasion, is
  friendly towards the US and happy for American troops to remain in Iraq until
  local forces are sufficiently trained to take over security. But
  anti-Americanism is part of the platform of most other Islamists in the
region.
  In Kuwait, for example, a group of Islamists opposed to the presence of 30,000
  US troops has set up the Gulf’s first political party and is demanding
  government recognition.
  In Egypt, American pressures for political change encouraged Kifaya (Enough) -
  a collection of leftists, liberals and Islamists - to stage small but regular
  street protests. This movement, though lacking mass appeal, has put pressure
  on the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group,
  to assert itself and more openly challenge the regime of President Hosni
  Mubarak. This month, the Brotherhood called for protests in 15 cities, and
  after clashes with police some 2,000 members were arrested.
  More alarming to the US is that more radical groups that it lists as terrorist
  organisations are participating more actively in the political process.
  Lebanon’s Hizbollah, the Shia movement that fought Israeli occupation of
  southern Lebanon, already participates in the Lebanese parliament and will
  take part in elections starting this month.
  The Palestinian Hamas has decided for the first time to field candidates in
  legislative elections this summer. It has already proved a strong challenger
  to the secular but corrupt Fatah movement in recent local elections. According
  to the Palestinian election committee, Fatah won control of 45 of 84 municipal
  councils across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, compared with only 23 for Hamas.
  But the Islamist movement gained an overall majority in the largest
  constituencies, including Rafah in the Gaza Strip and Qalqilyah in the West
  Bank.
  That Islamists should benefit from any democratic opening is hardly surprising
  - nor is it necessarily alarming. In countries where societies are stifled by
  authoritarianism and government corruption, movements that offer a religious
  message gain instant appeal among a disillusioned population, particularly
  when, as with Hamas and Hizbollah, weak central control allows them to run
  generous social and educational programmes.
  This was starkly illustrated in the Algerian experience in the early 1990s:
  the first real democratic opening in the Arab world gave rise to a powerful
  Islamist movement. The Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win the
  legislative elections in 1991 when the army intervened, cancelling the poll
  and banning the party. The experiment with democracy was not only short-lived.
  It sparked a savage and long civil war.
  Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi commentator and adviser to a prominent member of the
  ruling al-Saud family, says the political forces in the region have not
  changed since the Algerian elections. “Islamists are the force on the Arab
  street and they will always be the leading player in local politics,” he
  argues.
  The Islamists, however, have learned from the mistakes of the past and now
  adopt a more democratic rhetoric and espouse nationalist goals. This evolution
  has been accentuated by the global war on terrorism, which has raised
  international pressure on the more radical groups, making political
  participation a necessary protection.
  “Islamists have made strides. Most mainstream Islamists are talking about
  constitutional change and about accommodation with regimes,” says Alistair
  Crooke, a former British intelligence officer and former security adviser to
  the European Union. “The most fundamental change is that Islamists don’t say
  it’s inconsistent to be Islamist and nationalist. So we now have a very potent
  mix of demands for popular reforms and nationalism. You can’t offer an
  alternative programme against this.”
  Mr Crooke, now director of the UK-based Conflict Forum, has been advocating
  dialogue between western officials and some of the radical Islamist
  organisations. Last month, he took a group of Americans and Europeans, some of
  them ex-officials and intelligence officers, to Beirut to meet representatives
  from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah. “If you incite expectations
  of change and you demonise and delegitimise all protest movements that aren’t
  secular and western, then don’t be surprised if it all erupts in violence,” he
  says.
 

  Liam Says:
  May 21st, 2005 at 11:51 am
  Apols for being totally off topic. But thought it was worth pointing out that
  Miss Egypt is quite hot. Also, good to see some Mid East stereo types being
  broken by the fact that Miss Lebanon isnt miles better looking that Miss
Egypt.
  http://www.missegyptonline.com/meriam6.html
  Now to make this shallow comment somewhat relevant to politics… hmmm…. Ah,
  near no much coverage in the Arabic press of Egypt’s Miss Universe contestant.
  If she wins, I wonder if the government will put a big picture of her in a
  bikini in Tahrir with Gamal standing behind her.
  Personally, Im with Nawal el Saadawi on this.
  Issandr El Amrani Says:
  May 21st, 2005 at 12:48 pm
  If she wins, I wonder if the government will put a big picture of her in a
  bikini in Tahrir with Gamal standing behind her.
  For those who don’t know, this is a reference to what happened when Egypt won
  gold medals at the last Olympics. The sign was taken down within two days
  after some indignation that Gamal Mubarak was trying to ride on the
  achievements of the nation’s athletes.
  As for Miss Egypt… Moza!
  praktike Says:
  May 22nd, 2005 at 12:45 am
  Is it just me, or does she kinda look like Debra Messing?
  Issandr El Amrani Says:
  May 22nd, 2005 at 3:30 am
  I think it’s just you. But that would not be a bad person to look like.
 


Posted in Other Opinions , Political Islam Studies  
Add Comment Send to Friend Print
Related Articles