• May 3, 2016

Politics or Piety? Why the Muslim Brotherhood Engages in Social Service Provision

Politics or Piety? Why the Muslim Brotherhood Engages in Social Service Provision

Steven Brooke provides an informative and well-researched overview of the Egyptian regime crackdown on social service and educational organizations perceived as affiliated with, or in a position to raise the profile of, the Muslim Brotherhood.[1] His examination seems intended to explore three distinct questions. First, whether the social movement (haraka) or the political party (hizb) is to be privileged by the Brotherhood in the future. Second, whether the appeal of the Brotherhood’s approach will diminish in favour of the Salafist-jihadist model; and a third, albeit related, question of whether the crackdown on the movement’s social service provision will increase the potential for violence.

I concur with the factual elements of Brooke’s account and I agree with the author that this lens provides a unique and much needed framework through which to consider these important questions. Yes, the closure of space for social services—when coupled with the closure of so many other avenues of life in Egypt—could possibly lead to extremism on the part of some. Yes, I too hear many murmurs among younger Egyptians about the appeal of a confrontational, parallel state-like systems approach and again, yes, we need to think more seriously about the relationship between a revivalist religious and societal movement that is the Brotherhood and the question of political participation in a non-repressive, truly representative political environment.

Read the Article on :brookings