How Egypt Molded Modern Radical Islam

From Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, by Zvi Mazel:

The basic ideology of political Islam – which was adopted later by all radical groups – finds its origin within Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

During the 1940s the Muslim Brotherhood turned into a powerful extra-political force, leading a campaign of violence and assassinations that eventually brought about the Free Officers revolution in 1952, thus ending the sole liberal experience in Egypt’s history. Later it also turned against Nasser and tried to kill him in 1954 but failed. Nasser declared the organization illegal and arrested 60,000 people, condemning its leaders to death.

President Sadat released the members of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971 and let them widen their influence over Egyptian society. He believed at the time that he needed them to fight his opponents, the remnants of the Nasser era that he wanted to obliterate.

An Egyptian jihad group that had declared war against what it called a non-Muslim government of Egypt assassinated Sadat in October 1981, but failed to carry out the coup d’etat it had planned to follow the killing. President Mubarak proclaimed a state of emergency which remains in effect twenty-four years later, meaning that the danger is still there today.

In the mid-1990s al-Gamaa al-Islamiya waged what may have been the first large-scale organized war between a government and a Muslim terrorist group that wanted to destroy it and its economy from the inside by killing officials and tourists in order to create a new Muslim society. In 1995 they tried to kill Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

It was believed that Egypt had overcome the onslaught of the radical Islamic groups after the massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor in 1997. However, the bombings at Sinai resorts in October 2004 reveal that the disciples of radical Islam are still active.

Zvi Mazel effectively depicts the origins and current dangerous nature of the Egyptian Brotherhood by presenting a documented history of the Brotherhood’s growth and role in Egypt along with showing its expansion into the Israel-Arab conflict through Hamas, Afghanistan, Iraq and al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden.

Mazel differentiates modern radical Islam from Judaism and Christianity, stating that it “is not just a religion or religious narrative like Judaism and Christianity. It is a divine program conceived to be implemented on earth.” He describes the radical Islamic belief that it is “the perfect and complete authority in all places, at all times, for all peoples… (and that) the intimate purpose of the Islamic program is to eliminate all the gods so that the world only worships Allah….” He demonstrates that political Islam “finds its origins in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” indicating a separation of it from universal Muslim worship.

After a thorough description of Egypt’s efforts to deal with the Brotherhood led by Presidents Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, Mazel reports that though the Brotherhood does not legally exist in Egypt, its members “have become very active in educational and social issues.” He continues: “They try to give the impression that they have distanced themselves from violence and are now adepts of democracy, but they continue to believe in the sovereignty of God and the implementation of shari’a. They overtly proclaim their support for terrorist operations in Israel and Iraq.”

Mazel concludes saying that today “To protect itself, Egypt has an omnipresent security service and maintains emergency rule twenty-four years after the assassination of President Sadat….”

The Israel Habara Committee recommends you read the article in full, here.

Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 16 February 2005.

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