February 23, 2011


Islamic entity set to dominate: a review of THE NEW MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN THE WEST By Lorenzo Vidino (Joshua Sinai, Washington Times)

With the organization’s violent activities leading in 1948 to its official banning and al-Banna‘s assassination by government operatives, many of its ideologues and activists found refuge in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states in the 1950s and 1960s. There they became “teachers, lawyers, administrators, and bankers, taking intellectual jobs that the cash-rich but educationally underdeveloped Gulf countries had to fill in great numbers.”

This is how 84-year-old Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who joined the Muslim Brotherhood as a teenager and graduated from Cairo’s prestigious al Azhar Faculty of Theology, landed in Qatar in the early 1960s, where, as described by Mr. Vidino, he proceeded over the years to establish an elaborate network of radical Islamic institutions that comprised religious schools, think tanks, publications and websites that disseminated his extremist theological views to millions of Muslims around the world.

After a 50-year exile, last week Sheik al-Qaradawi, whom Mr. Vidino describes as the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Pope,” returned to a hero’s welcome in Cairo, where he is likely to play an important religious role in the new regime.

It was also during this period that Muslim Brotherhood members began establishing the infrastructural seeds for what would become their dominant role in the life of Muslim communities in Western Europe and the United States.

It is among these communities, where, Mr. Vidino writes “there is no other Muslim movement that has the means to organize events even remotely on such a large scale. If a young Muslim or a potential convert wants to know more about Islam, he or she is more likely to have easy access to Brotherhood publications than to those of any other Islamic group.”

He adds, “Although their membership has remained fairly small, the Brothers have shown an enormous ability to monopolize the Islamic discourse, making their interpretations of Islam perhaps not yet mainstream but at least the most readily available, and putting their ideological stamp on any Islam-related issue, be it strictly religious or more properly political.”

The Muslim Brotherhood also succeeded in gaining access to Western government officials, Mr. Vidino observes, using them as a supposed “firewall” in some of their counterradicalization programs to counter the spread of pro-al Qaeda sympathies among Muslim communities in those countries. Such cooperation is problematic, Mr. Vidino explains, because it hasn’t reconciled its public condemnation of terrorism in general with its support for the Palestinian Hamas‘ use of such tactics against Israel.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2011 6:56 AM
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