April 14, 2017


The cooling of Donald Trump's Islamo-scepticism (Erasmus, Apr 14th 2017, tHE eCONOMIST)

[P]erhaps the most tangible symptom of a mood change is the administration's decision, after intense internal debate, not to designate the global Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation: a move that would have complicated America's diplomatic relations with several countries and would have threatened the existence of some advocacy groups within the United States.

Senator Ted Cruz, the devout Baptist and Republican presidential candidate, was among the strongest advocates of this designation; it would also be warmly welcomed by the government of Egypt which wrested power from a Brotherhood-influenced administration in 2013. But the Trump team clearly listened to advice from other quarters, including American diplomats and intelligence officers who know the Middle East, and the governments of Morocco, Tunisia and above all Jordan.

What all these informants told the administration is that the Brotherhood isn't a monolith. It can evolve in a more liberal-democratic direction, as did the Ennahda party in Tunisia, and even within one country, it can morph into several different phenomena, as happened in Jordan. A catchall demonisation might actually arrest this possibility, according to most pundits on Islam.

"All the professional advice was against the Brotherhood's designation [as terrorist]," says Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution think-tank. Mr Hamid reports that many in Washington, DC have become less hostile to his way of thinking, which holds that Islam is more prone to theocratic tendencies than other faiths, but argues that the West should accept this and work for gradual change rather than slamming the door in Islam's face.

Posted by at April 14, 2017 7:25 PM