Just finished reading an excellent book by Lorenzo Vidino, ( Columbia Press, 2020), one that provides the best expose off the Muslim Brotherhood, its apparatus, methods of operation, and most importantly, the insidious danger this organization poses to Western civilization and culture. While there have a number of books and articles on the Muslim Brotherhood, few if any on the MB in the West and certainly none with the breadth and depth of this one. It is a very readable book, devoid of the usual cant and obscure post modernist writing featured so often these days in academia.
Vidino lays out the MB threat in a scholarly but coherent style, ticking to the topic and he is also very even-handed in his treatment off the subject, critical of the right-wing propelling every incident involving Muslims into a apoplectic event, and particularly the Left who shut off any debate of Islam or Islamism ( political Islam) with cries of “Islamophobia,” regardless of the gravity of the subject at hand.
Vidino approaches the issue by telling the story of those who live in the West, joined the Muslim Brotherhood ((MB) and why they left it, including the price they have to pay for doing so. As the author states there are many articles and books on the Muslim Brotherhood but almost none on the MB in the West. I telling the story of these individuals as related to him in interviews, Vidino surfaces a number off rather startling facts that are often buried or ignored.
- The Muslim Brotherhood is a secret organization and goes to great pains to keep it so. In the West they cannot exist in the open because their goal of a Shari’a state is totally incompatible with the Western concept of a liberal democracy. A further examination of this issue can be found in Bassam Tibi’s, The Shari’a State. Tibi posits that ” Shri’atization does not constitute a part of Islamic faith, nor does it promote the democratization process.”
- MB eschews violence, not because they have moral objections, but because they see it as ineffective in bringing about the MB utopia. Therefore in the West, especially the United States, The Muslim Brotherhood seeks power through grassroots, education, civic organizations, neighborhood associations, etc. As Vidino stated, the Brotherhood wants to engage with Western society but not be part of it. Their spiritual leader, Yusuf al Qaradawi constantly reminds the Brotherhood that “it is the duty of the Islamic Movement not to leave these expatriates ( Muslims in the West) to be swept by the whirlpool of the materialistic trend that prevails in the West.” He has also encouraged Islamic ghettos for Western Muslims, such as the one found in Dearborn Michigan, to avoid assimilation into Western culture.
- Perhaps most surprisingly the MB seeks identification and solidarity with the dominant elite strata of society. They are much more interested in cultivating sympathizers, and useful fools among the Western political class than ordinary Muslims in the West. While most Western Muslims, especially the Sunni, probably sympathize with some of the MB agenda, few want to be part of it. In fact some leave the MB because of its manifestly racist attitude, and impenetrable political fabric. It is a Sunni Muslim exclusivist organization favoring Arab leadership at the top. The MB members see themselves as the gatekeepers to the entire Muslim community in the West. As they tend to be well educated, speak English well, and present themselves well, the political class, in their quest to acquire “diversity” and maintain a political base in the Muslim community will use the MB members as the “go to” muslims whenever a “store front” Muslim is required. Ironically the politicos are the ones most likely to be used, not the MB members.
- Vidino carefully sketched the apparatus of the MB, dividing it into three parts; first are the purists, the leaders of the MB, usually with them for a longtime as dedicated workers, and doctrinaire in their beliefs.They are often intermarried and work together in legitimate businesses. Secondly there are the “Brotherhood spawns.” are above ground organizations established by the purists, who deny any link to the MB but work in sync with their agenda, such as Muslim student organizations, etc. ( I would add the Council of American Islamic relations to that category.) Thirdly and most important, are the organizations in flunked by the MB. For instance the MB in the US identifies with “progressive” causes and inserts itself into “social justice” programs and activities. ( The antics of the two Muslim members of the US congress are instructive in this regard. In my own experience I have found many ” interfaith” organizations as remarkably tolerant of Islamist causes and demands. I would distinctly ad the World Council of Churches to this category as they are always sympathetic to far left and Islamist points of view. They turn a deaf ear to the plight of Christians under Muslim rule and are extremely anti Israeli if not anti semitic.
- There is much more to this book but these are some of the more salient issues that struck me as of vital importance. Its methods of gaining grassroots support seems as American as apple pie, seemingly a version of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” but much more destructive to the fabric of American life. While the Islamic State and al Qaeda were getting all the headlines with a daily dose of their butchery, the athree piece suits of the MB brotherhood were gaining adherents and power.