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Islamism revisited

MAHA Azzam

There is a political and security crisis surrounding what is referred to as Islamism, a crisis whose antecedents long precede 9/11. Over the past 25 let, there have been different emphases on how to explain and combat Islamism. Analysts and policymakers
in the 1980s and 1990s spoke of the root causes of Islamic militancy as being economic malaise and marginalization. More recently there has been a focus on political reform as a means of undermining the appeal of radicalism. Increasingly today, the ideological and religious aspects of Islamism need to be addressed because they have become features of a wider political and security debate. Whether in connection with Al-Qaeda terrorism, political reform in the Muslim world, the nuclear issue in Iran or areas of crisis such as Palestine or Lebanon, it has become commonplace to fi nd that ideology and religion are used by opposing parties as sources of legitimization, inspiration and enmity.
The situation is further complicated today by the growing antagonism towards and fear of Islam in the West because of terrorist attacks which in turn impinge on attitudes towards immigration, religion and culture. The boundaries of the umma or community of the faithful have stretched beyond Muslim states to European cities. The umma potentially exists wherever there are Muslim communities. The shared sense of belonging to a common faith increases in an environment where the sense of integration into the surrounding community is unclear and where discrimination may be apparent. The greater the rejection of the values of society,
whether in the West or even in a Muslim state, the greater the consolidation of the moral force of Islam as a cultural identity and value-system.
Following the bombings in London on 7 Červenec 2005 it became more apparent that some young people were asserting religious commitment as a way of expressing ethnicity. The links between Muslims across the globe and their perception that Muslims are vulnerable have led many in very diff erent parts of the world to merge their own local predicaments into the wider Muslim one, having identifi ed culturally, either primarily or partially, with a broadly defi ned Islam.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokracie, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Cena

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government officials frequently point to ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’ as the next ideological threat to liberal democracies. This view, nicméně, is based primarily on the analysis of texts, Islamic political theory, and ad hoc studies of individual countries, which do not consider other factors. It is my contention that the texts and traditions of Islam, like those of other religions, can be used to support a variety of political systems and policies. Country specific and descriptive studies do not help us to find patterns that will help us explain the varying relationships between Islam and politics across the countries of the Muslim world. Proto, a new approach to the study of the
connection between Islam and politics is called for.
I suggest, through rigorous evaluation of the relationship between Islam, democracy, and human rights at the cross-national level, that too much emphasis is being placed on the power of Islam as a political force. I first use comparative case studies, which focus on factors relating to the interplay between Islamic groups and regimes, economic influences, ethnic cleavages, and societal development, to explain the variance in the influence of Islam on politics across eight nations. I argue that much of the power
attributed to Islam as the driving force behind policies and political systems in Muslim nations can be better explained by the previously mentioned factors. I also find, contrary to common belief, that the increasing strength of Islamic political groups has often been associated with modest pluralization of political systems.
I have constructed an index of Islamic political culture, based on the extent to which Islamic law is utilized and whether and, if so, how,Western ideas, institutions, and technologies are implemented, to test the nature of the relationship between Islam and democracy and Islam and human rights. This indicator is used in statistical analysis, which includes a sample of twenty-three predominantly Muslim countries and a control group of twenty-three non-Muslim developing nations. In addition to comparing
Islamic nations to non-Islamic developing nations, statistical analysis allows me to control for the influence of other variables that have been found to affect levels of democracy and the protection of individual rights. The result should be a more realistic and accurate picture of the influence of Islam on politics and policies.

Democracy in Islamic Political Thought

Azzam S. Tamimi

Democracy has preoccupied Arab political thinkers since the dawn of the modern Arab renaissance about two centuries ago. Od té doby, the concept of democracy has changed and developed under the influence of a variety of social and political developments.The discussion of democracy in Arab Islamic literature can be traced back to Rifa’a Tahtawi, the father of Egyptian democracy according to Lewis Awad,[3] who shortly after his return to Cairo from Paris published his first book, Takhlis Al-Ibriz Ila Talkhis Bariz, v 1834. The book summarized his observations of the manners and customs of the modern French,[4] and praised the concept of democracy as he saw it in France and as he witnessed its defence and reassertion through the 1830 Revolution against King Charles X.[5] Tahtawi tried to show that the democratic concept he was explaining to his readers was compatible with the law of Islam. He compared political pluralism to forms of ideological and jurisprudential pluralism that existed in the Islamic experience:
Religious freedom is the freedom of belief, of opinion and of sect, provided it does not contradict the fundamentals of religion . . . The same would apply to the freedom of political practice and opinion by leading administrators, who endeavour to interpret and apply rules and provisions in accordance with the laws of their own countries. Kings and ministers are licensed in the realm of politics to pursue various routes that in the end serve one purpose: good administration and justice.[6] One important landmark in this regard was the contribution of Khairuddin At-Tunisi (1810- 99), leader of the 19th-century reform movement in Tunisia, who, v 1867, formulated a general plan for reform in a book entitled Aqwam Al-Masalik Fi Taqwim Al- Mamalik (The Straight Path to Reforming Governments). The main preoccupation of the book was in tackling the question of political reform in the Arab world. While appealing to politicians and scholars of his time to seek all possible means in order to improve the status of the
community and develop its civility, he warned the general Muslim public against shunning the experiences of other nations on the basis of the misconception that all the writings, inventions, experiences or attitudes of non-Muslims should be rejected or disregarded.
Khairuddin further called for an end to absolutist rule, which he blamed for the oppression of nations and the destruction of civilizations.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokracie, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Cena

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes

in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government

officials frequently point to ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’ as the next

ideological threat to liberal democracies. This view, nicméně, is based primarily

on the analysis of texts, Islamic political theory, and ad hoc studies

of individual countries, which do not consider other factors. It is my contention

that the texts and traditions of Islam, like those of other religions,

can be used to support a variety of political systems and policies. Country

specific and descriptive studies do not help us to find patterns that will help

us explain the varying relationships between Islam and politics across the

countries of the Muslim world. Proto, a new approach to the study of the

connection between Islam and politics is called for.
I suggest, through rigorous evaluation of the relationship between Islam,

democracy, and human rights at the cross-national level, that too much

emphasis is being placed on the power of Islam as a political force. I first

use comparative case studies, which focus on factors relating to the interplay

between Islamic groups and regimes, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, to explain the variance in the influence of

Islam on politics across eight nations.

Islamist Opposition Parties and the Potential for EU Engagement

Toby Archer

Heidi Huuhtanen

In light of the increasing importance of Islamist movements in the Muslim world and

the way that radicalisation has influenced global events since the turn of the century, it

is important for the EU to evaluate its policies towards actors within what can be loosely

termed the ‘Islamic world’. It is particularly important to ask whether and how to engage

with the various Islamist groups.

This remains controversial even within the EU. Some feel that the Islamic values that

lie behind Islamist parties are simply incompatible with western ideals of democracy and

lidská práva, while others see engagement as a realistic necessity due to the growing

domestic importance of Islamist parties and their increasing involvement in international

affairs. Another perspective is that democratisation in the Muslim world would increase

European security. The validity of these and other arguments over whether and how the

EU should engage can only be tested by studying the different Islamist movements and

their political circumstances, country by country.

Democratisation is a central theme of the EU’s common foreign policy actions, as laid

out in Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union. Many of the states considered in this

report are not democratic, or not fully democratic. In most of these countries, Islamist

parties and movements constitute a significant opposition to the prevailing regimes, a

in some they form the largest opposition bloc. European democracies have long had to

deal with governing regimes that are authoritarian, but it is a new phenomenon to press

for democratic reform in states where the most likely beneficiaries might have, from the

EU’s point of view, different and sometimes problematic approaches to democracy and its

related values, such as minority and women’s rights and the rule of law. These charges are

often laid against Islamist movements, so it is important for European policy-makers to

have an accurate picture of the policies and philosophies of potential partners.

Experiences from different countries tends to suggest that the more freedom Islamist

parties are allowed, the more moderate they are in their actions and ideas. In many

cases Islamist parties and groups have long since shifted away from their original aim

of establishing an Islamic state governed by Islamic law, and have come to accept basic

democratic principles of electoral competition for power, the existence of other political

competitors, and political pluralism.

In the Shadow of an Arab Caesar: Sayyid Qutb and the Radicalization of Modern Islamic Fundamentalism

Research

“We are the umma of the believers, living within a jahili society. As a community of believers we should see ourselves in a state of war with the state and the society. The territory we dwell in is the House of War.”1 These were the words of Sayyid Qutb in an Egyptian military court in April, 1966 before he and two of his companions were sentenced to death by hanging. The offense; conspiring against the government and plotting its overthrow, the evidence used by the state prosecutors in the trial, besides ‘confessions,’ a book, Qutb’s final piece of literature, Ma‘alim fi al-Turuq, Signposts.2 This study does not set out to be a thorough analysis of the political and religious ideology of Sayyid Qutb. Rather it is an attempt to identify the political and social climate in Egypt as the primary motivation which led to the development of Qutb’s radical interpretations of Islam. Notions of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism dominated the political discourse of Qutb’s Egypt and hearts and minds were enraptured by promises of its populist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. This chapter in Arab history from the early 1950’s until the late 1960’s is etched in historical memory as the era of pan-Arabism. Nicméně, it was also a vital period in the evolution of fundamentalist Islam into its more radical form which first expressed itself in the 1970’s and is until today at the base of radical fundamentalist Islamic thought worldwide. This piece will
demonstrate the principal role played by Sayyid Qutb in this transformation and reveal that radical interpretations of Islam were given impetus to develop in Egypt during this period due to the nature of Nasser’s regime

Political Islam in the Middle East

Jsou Knudsen

This report provides an introduction to selected aspects of the phenomenon commonly

referred to as “political Islam”. The report gives special emphasis to the Middle East, v

particular the Levantine countries, and outlines two aspects of the Islamist movement that may

be considered polar opposites: democracy and political violence. In the third section the report

reviews some of the main theories used to explain the Islamic resurgence in the Middle East

(Figure 1). In brief, the report shows that Islam need not be incompatible with democracy and

that there is a tendency to neglect the fact that many Middle Eastern countries have been

engaged in a brutal suppression of Islamist movements, causing them, some argue, to take up

arms against the state, and more rarely, foreign countries. The use of political violence is

widespread in the Middle East, but is neither illogical nor irrational. In many cases even

Islamist groups known for their use of violence have been transformed into peaceful political

parties successfully contesting municipal and national elections. Nonetheless, the Islamist

revival in the Middle East remains in part unexplained despite a number of theories seeking to

account for its growth and popular appeal. In general, most theories hold that Islamism is a

reaction to relative deprivation, especially social inequality and political oppression. Alternative

theories seek the answer to the Islamist revival within the confines of religion itself and the

powerful, evocative potential of religious symbolism.

The conclusion argues in favour of moving beyond the “gloom and doom” approach that

portrays Islamism as an illegitimate political expression and a potential threat to the West (“Old

Islamism”), and of a more nuanced understanding of the current democratisation of the Islamist

movement that is now taking place throughout the Middle East (“New Islamism”). This

importance of understanding the ideological roots of the “New Islamism” is foregrounded

along with the need for thorough first-hand knowledge of Islamist movements and their

adherents. As social movements, its is argued that more emphasis needs to be placed on

understanding the ways in which they have been capable of harnessing the aspirations not only

of the poorer sections of society but also of the middle class.

Islamist Parties : why they can’t be democratic

Bassam Tibi

Noting Islamism’s growing appeal and strength on the ground, many

Western scholars and officials have been grasping for some way to take

an inclusionary approach toward it. In keeping with this desire, it has

become fashionable contemptuously to dismiss the idea of insisting on

clear and rigorous distinctions as “academic.” When it comes to Islam

and democracy, this deplorable fashion has been fraught with unfortunate

consequences.

Intelligent discussion of Islamism, democracy, and Islam requires

clear and accurate definitions. Without them, analysis will collapse into

confusion and policy making will suffer. My own view, formed after

thirty years of study and reflection regarding the matter, is that Islam and

democracy are indeed compatible, provided that certain necessary religious

reforms are made. The propensity to deliver on such reforms is what

I see as lacking in political Islam. My own avowed interest—as an Arab-

Muslim prodemocracy theorist and practitioner—is to promote the establishment

of secular democracy within the ambit of Islamic civilization.

In order to help clear away the confusion that all too often surrounds

this topic, I will lay out several basic points to bear in mind. The first is

that, so far, Western practices vis-`a-vis political Islam have been faulty

because they have lacked the underpinning of a well-founded assessment.

Unless blind luck intervenes, no policy can be better than the assessment

upon which it is based. Proper assessment is the beginning of

all practical wisdom.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

William Thomasson

Is Islam a religion of violence? Is the widely applied stereotype that all Muslims are violently opposed to “infidel” Western cultures accurate? Today’s world is confronted with two opposing faces of Islam; one being a peaceful, adaptive, modernized Islam, and the other strictly fundamentalist and against all things un-Islamic or that may corrupt Islamic culture. Both specimens, though seemingly opposed, mingle and inter-relate, and are the roots of the confusion over modern Islam’s true identity. Islam’s vastness makes it difficult to analyze, but one can focus on a particular Islamic region and learn much about Islam as a whole. Indeed, one may do this with Egypt, particularly the relationship between the Fundamentalist society known as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian government and population. The two opposing faces of Islam are presented in Egypt in a manageable portion, offering a smaller model of the general multi-national struggle of today’s Islam. In an effort to exemplify the role of Islamic Fundamentalists, and their relationship with Islamic society as a whole in the current debate over what Islam is, this essay will offer a history of the Society of Muslim Brothers, a description of how the organization originated, functioned, and was organized, and a summary of the Brother’s activities and influences on Egyptian culture. Certainly, by doing so, one may gain a deeper understanding of how Islamic Fundamentalists interpret Islam


Politický vývoj v Muslimské bratrstvo v Egyptě

Stephen Bennett

"Alláh je náš objektivní. Prorok je náš vůdce. Korán je naše právo. Džihád je naše cesta. Umírající ve způsobu Allaha je naše nejvyšší naděje. "

Od jeho raných dobách v Egyptě Muslimské bratrstvo vytvořila hodně diskuse, jak někteří lidé tvrdí, že organizace prosazuje násilí ve jménu islámu. Podle dr. Mamoun Fandy na Jamese. Baker III Institute of Public Policy, "džihádismu a aktivace pohledy na svět z domu islámu a Dům války jsou myšlenky, které vyplynuly ze spisů a učení Muslimského bratrstva " (Livesy, 2005). Primární důkaz pro toto tvrzení je pozoruhodný člen Bratrstva, Sayeed Qutb, kdo je připočítán s vyvíjením revizionistické a sporný výklad džihád že za předpokladu, náboženské ospravedlnění pro násilí páchané odnož organizace Bratrstva jako al-Jihad, al-Takfir wa al-Hidžra, Hamas, a Al-Káida.

Přesto, že je stále diskutabilní postavení, protože přesto, že ideologické mateřské těchto násilných organizací, Muslimské bratrstvo se vždy tvrdila oficiální postoj proti násilí a místo toho má podporovat islámské občanských a sociálních opatření na nejnižší úrovni. Během prvních dvaceti let své existence Muslimského bratrstva získala status jako nejvlivnější ze všech hlavních skupin na Blízkém východě prostřednictvím své oblíbené aktivismus. To také rozšířila z Egypta do dalších zemí v celém regionu a sloužil jako katalyzátor pro mnoho z úspěšných populárních osvobozenecká hnutí proti západního kolonialismu na Blízkém východě.

Zatímco to má udržel většinu z jeho zakládajících principů od svého vzniku, Muslimské bratrstvo učinil dramatickou transformaci v některých klíčových aspektech jeho politické ideologie. Dříve odsuzoval mnoho jako teroristická organizace, jako pozdní Muslimského bratrstva byla označena většina současných učenců na Blízkém východě za politicky "umírněné", "Politicky centristické", a "accommodationist" k politické a vládní struktury Egypta (Abed-Kotob, 1995, p. 321-322). Sana Abed-Kotob také nám říká, že současné islámské opoziční skupiny, které existují dnes "více 'radikál' nebo militantní těchto skupin trvat na revoluční změnu, která má být uložena na masy a politickém systému, vzhledem k tomu, ... nové Muslimské bratrstvo v Egyptě, Výzva k postupné změně, která má být provedena v rámci politického systému a s vojenskou službou muslimských mas "

Resolving America’s Islamist Dilemma

Shadi Hamid

U.S. efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East have long been paralyzed by the “Islamist dilemma”: in theory, we want democracy, but, in practice, fear that Islamist parties will be the prime beneficiaries of any political opening. The most tragic manifestation of this was the Algerian debacle of 1991 a 1992, when the United States stood silently while the staunchly secular military canceled elections after an Islamist party won a parliamentary majority. More recently, the Bush administration backed away from its “freedom agenda” after Islamists did surprisingly well in elections throughout region, including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian territories.
But even our fear of Islamist parties—and the resulting refusal to engage with them—has itself been inconsistent, holding true for some countries but not others. The more that a country is seen as vital to American national security interests, the less willing the United States has been to accept Islamist groups having a prominent political role there. Nicméně, in countries seen as less strategically relevant, and where less is at stake, the United States has occasionally taken a more nuanced approach. But it is precisely where more is at stake that recognizing a role for nonviolent Islamists is most important, a, here, American policy continues to fall short.
Throughout the region, the United States has actively supported autocratic regimes and given the green light for campaigns of repression against groups such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and most influential political movement in the region. In March 2008, during what many observers consider to be the worst period of anti-Brotherhood repression since the 1960s, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice waived a $100 million congressionally mandated reduction of military aid to Egypt.

International Consultation of Muslim Intellectuals on Islam & Politika

Stimson centrum & Institut politických studií

This two-day discussion brought together experts and scholars from Bangladesh, Egypt, India,Indonésie, Kenya, Malajsie, Pákistán, the Philippines, Sudan and Sri Lanka representing academia,non-governmental organizations and think tanks. Among the participants were a number of former government officials and one sitting legislator. The participants were also chosen to comprise abroad spectrum of ideologies, including the religious and the secular, cultural, political andeconomic conservatives, liberals and radicals.The following themes characterized the discussion:1. Western and US (Mis)Understanding There is a fundamental failure by the West to understand the rich variety of intellectual currents andcross-currents in the Muslim world and in Islamic thought. What is underway in the Muslim worldis not a simple opposition to the West based on grievance (though grievances there also are), but are newal of thought and culture and an aspiration to seek development and to modernize withoutlosing their identity. This takes diverse forms, and cannot be understood in simple terms. There is particular resentment towards Western attempts to define the parameters of legitimate Islamicdiscourse. There is a sense that Islam suffers from gross over generalization, from its champions asmuch as from its detractors. It is strongly urged that in order to understand the nature of the Muslim renaissance, the West should study all intellectual elements within Muslim societies, and not only professedly Islamic discourse.US policy in the aftermath of 9/11 has had several effects. It has led to a hardening andradicalization on both sides of the Western-Muslim encounter. It has led to mutual broad brush(mis)characterization of the other and its intentions. It has contributed to a sense of pan-Islamicsolidarity unprecedented since the end of the Khilafat after World War I. It has also produced adegeneration of US policy, and a diminution of US power, influence and credibility. Finally, theUS’ dualistic opposition of terror and its national interests has made the former an appealing instrument for those intent on resistance to the West.

Political Transitions in the Arab World

Dina Shehata

The year 2007 marked the end of a brief interval of political liberalization in the Arab world which began shortly after the occupation of Iraq and which resulted primarily from external pressures on Arab regimes to reform and democratize. External pressures during the 2003-2006 period created a political opening which activists across the region used to press for longstanding demands for political and constitutional reform.Faced with a combination of growing external and internal pressures to reform, Arab regimes were forced to make some concessions to their challengers.In Egypt, upon the request of the President, Parliament passed a constitutional amendment to allowfor direct competitive presidential elections. In September2005, Egypt witnessed its first competitive presidential election ever and as expected Mubarak was elected for a fifth term with 87%of the vote. navíc,during the November 2005 parliamentary elections,which were freer than previous elections, Muslimské bratrstvo, the largest opposition movement in Egypt, won 88 seats. This was the largest number of seats won by an opposition group in Egypt since the 1952 revolution.Similarly, in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a majority of the seats.Hamas was thereby able to establish control over the Palestinian Legislative Council which had been dominated by Fatah since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. In Lebanon, in the wake of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri on 14th February2005, a coalition of pro-Hariri political forces was ablet hrough broad-based mass mobilization and external support to force Syrian troops to pull out from Lebanon and the pro-Syrian Government to resign. Elections were held, and the 14th February coalition was able to win a plurality of the votes and to form a new government.In Morocco, King Mohamed VI oversaw the establishment of a truth and reconciliation committee which sought to address the grievances of those who had been abused under the reign of his father.The Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) also under took some important reforms during the 2003-2006 period. V 2003 Qatar promulgated a written constitution for the first time in its history. In 2005,Saudi Arabia convened municipal elections for the firsttime in five decades. And in 2006, Bahrain held parliamentaryelections in which the Shiite society of AlWefaqwon 40%of the seats. Subsequently, the first Shiitedeputy prime minister in Bahrain was appointed.Theses events, which came to be known as ‘the Arab Spring,’ led some optimists to believe that the Arabworld was on the brink of a democratic transformation similar to those experienced in Latin American and Eastern and Central Europe during the 1980s and1990s. Nicméně, v 2007, as political liberalization gave way to heightened polarization and to renewed repression,these hopes were dispelled. The failure ofthe openings of the 2003-2006 period to create a sustained momentum towards democratization can beat tributed to a number of factors. The deteriorating security situation in Iraq and the failure of the United States to create a stable and democratic regime dampened support for democracy promotion efforts within the American administration and reinforced the views ofthose who held that security and stability must come before democracy. navíc, the electoral successes of Islamists in Egypt and in Palestine further dampened Western support for democracy promotion efforts in the region since the principals of thesemovements were perceived to be at odds with the interestsof theWest.

Současné trendy v ideologii egyptského Muslimského bratrstva

Dr. Izrael Elad Altman

The American-led Middle East reform and democratization campaign of the last twoyears has helped shape a new political reality in Egypt. Opportunities have opened up fordissent. With U.S. and European support, local opposition groups have been able to takeinitiative, advance their causes and extract concessions from the state. The EgyptianMuslim Brotherhood movement (MB), which has been officially outlawed as a politicalorganization, is now among the groups facing both new opportunities and new risks.Western governments, including the government of the United States, are consideringthe MB and other “moderate Islamist” groups as potential partners in helping to advancedemocracy in their countries, and perhaps also in eradicating Islamist terrorism. Couldthe Egyptian MB fill that role? Could it follow the track of the Turkish Justice andDevelopment Party (AKP) and the Indonesian Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), twoIslamist parties that, according to some analysts, are successfully adapting to the rules ofliberal democracy and leading their countries toward greater integration with,respectively, Europe and a “pagan” Asia?This article examines how the MB has responded to the new reality, how it has handledthe ideological and practical challenges and dilemmas that have arisen during the pasttwo years. To what extent has the movement accommodated its outlook to newcircumstances? What are its objectives and its vision of the political order? How has itreacted to U.S. overtures and to the reform and democratization campaign? How has itnavigated its relations with the Egyptian regime on one hand, and other opposition forceson the other, as the country headed toward two dramatic elections in autumn 2005? Towhat extent can the MB be considered a force that might lead Egypt toward liberaldemocracy?

Ikhwanu v Severní Americe: Krátká historie

Douglas Farah

Ron Sandee


Aktuální federální soud proti Nadace Svaté země pro obnovu a rozvoj (HLF) in Dallas, Texas,1 offers an unprecedented inside look into the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, as well as its goals and structure. The documents discuss recruitment, organization, ideology and the development of the organization in different phases in the United States. The prosecution in the case has presented many internal Muslim Brotherhood documents from the 1980’s and early 1990’s that give a first-ever, public view of the history and ideology behind the operations of the Muslim Brothers (known as the Ikhwan or The Group) in the U.S. over the past four decades. For researchers, the documents have the added weight of being written by the Ikhwan leaders themselves, rather than interpretations of secondary sources.

Brothers in Arms?

Joshua Stacher
Within and between western governments, a heated policy debate is raging over the question of whether or not to engage with the world’s oldest and most influential political Islamist group: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. V 2006, publication of a series of leaked memos in the New Statesman magazine revealed that political analysts within the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommended an enhancement of informal contacts with members of the Brotherhood.
The authors of these documents argued that the UK government should be seeking to influence this group, given the extent of its grassroots support in Egypt. The British analysts further suggested that engagement could provide a valuable opportunity for challenging the Brotherhood’s perceptions of the West, including the UK, and for detailed questioning of their prescriptions for solving the challenges facing Egypt and the wider region.
The Bush administration in the United States has been far less open to the idea of direct engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing that it would be inappropriate to enter into formal ties with a group that is not legally recognised by the Egyptian government. Nicméně, there are indications that the US position may be starting to shift. V 2007, it emerged that the State Department had approved a policy that would enable US diplomats to meet and coordinate with elected Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, Irák, Syria and other Arab states.

Within and between western governments, a heated policy debate is raging over the question of whether or not to engage with the world’s oldest and most influential political Islamist group: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. V 2006, publication of a series of leaked memos in the New Statesman magazine revealed that political analysts within the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommended an enhancement of informal contacts with members of the Brotherhood.

The authors of these documents argued that the UK government should be seeking to influence this group, given the extent of its grassroots support in Egypt. The British analysts further suggested that engagement could provide a valuable opportunity for challenging the Brotherhood’s perceptions of the West, including the UK, and for detailed questioning of their prescriptions for solving the challenges facing Egypt and the wider region.

The Bush administration in the United States has been far less open to the idea of direct engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing that it would be inappropriate to enter into formal ties with a group that is not legally recognised by the Egyptian government. Nicméně, there are indications that the US position may be starting to shift. V 2007, it emerged that the State Department had approved a policy that would enable US diplomats to meet and coordinate with elected Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, Irák, Syria and other Arab states.