Muslim Brotherhood’s Tactics of Deception

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2011 03:08 PM

By Tawfik Hamid

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Preliminary results of the recent Egyptian elections indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) of Egypt is likely to dominate the next Egyptian parliament and will create the new Egyptian constitution.

Some see the MB as a moderate Islamic group that can fit with real democracy while others see them as radicals.

Evaluating how such an organization works, its behavior, and its tactics is pivotal to understanding and accordingly dealing with them.

Whilst it is fair to say that at the individual level, several members of this group are likely to be less corrupt than many former government officials during the Mubarak regime, it is also fair to say that many in the MB of Egypt are professionals in using deceptive tactics and that their true agenda will be clear only when they come to power.

The flag of the MB shows the word “Waaedo” in Arabic underneath the swords. This word means “to prepare and plan” which gives an indication of the process of thinking of this group. The word “Waaedo” in Arabic is well known to be a direct quote from and a reminder of the following verse in the Koran.

Koran {Al-Anfal 8:60}: Against them (enemies of Islam) prepare “Waaedo” your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.

Some of the tactics used by the MB of Egypt include:

1. Hiding their true intentions. When President Nasser came to power after the Revolution of 1952, the MB were initially supportive of the military. This was based on a power sharing arrangement.

Later on, the military realized that the MB did not actually want to share power but wanted all the power. This led Naser to turn against them and put their members in prison. In the Jan. 25 Revolution, many believed that the MB had an initial arrangement with the whereby the military would support them to control the new government in exchange for sharing in power and having special privileges.

This initial pro-Islamist attitude of the military was observed in the selection of the committee that modified the Egyptian constitution during the transitional stage. This committee was headed by a person known to be a sympathizer with the MB (Tarwk Al-Bishry) and did not include any women or even a single Coptic Christian (a religious minority that is 10-15 percent of the population).

Later on, when the military asked the MB for some privileges to ensure that it can be protected from future backlash and to have a role in political leadership for the country, the MB refused to accept this and asked its supporters to demonstrate in Tahrir Square against the military (on Friday, Nov. 18).

After the preliminary results of the election showed that the MB will be the majority in the next parliament, leaders of the group started to be more vocal about their demand to appoint the next government.

This means they want to deprive the military from a significant portion of its power as the military currently has the power of the president to appoint the government. These demands of the MB have become clearer only after they felt that they are getting more power in the election. The struggle for power between the MB and the military is likely to cause several troubles to the country in the near future.

The interaction between the MB and the military shows the following stages:

Stage 1 (initially): Showing solidarity with powerful groups based on a promise to share power

Stage 2 (once feeling that they are becoming more powerful): Trying to have all power

Stage 3: People in power turning against them

It is unclear yet how the military will respond to the MB this time as — unlike after 1952 revolution — the MB currently has a very strong base of support within the population. Turning against the MB now is much more complicated than it was in the 1950s and 1960s during Nasser era.

Initial indicators include the comment of Gen. Tantawi that the position of the military in Egypt will remain the same in the new constitution in reference to attempts of the MB to limit the power of the military.

2. Deceiving statements. Initially the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, after the Jan. 25 revolution, issued statements to welcome more tourism, to show respect to previous treaties (which includes the peace treaty with Israel), and to promote a state where people are treated equally irrespective of their faith or gender “Dawla Madaneia.”

Later on (when they felt more powerful) leaders of the same group did the following:

a. Declared that they will not allow female tourists to dress freely and will not allow drinking or selling of alcohol

b. Expressed clear hostility toward the peace treaty with Israel and a desire to end it.

c. Pushed for a massive demonstration to reject the super constitutional principles that aimed at ensuring equality between different Egyptians irrespective of their faith or gender.

3. Opportunism. When Egyptians demonstrated against Mubarak on Jan 25, the MB refused to share in the demonstrations until they started to feel that Mubarak was collapsing. This delay showed the opportunistic style of the group as, later on, they wanted to gain the political fruits of the revolution and claimed to be part of it.

4. Using general principles and avoid being specific. Many members of the MB speak about general principles such “No compulsion in religion” but they never give a clear statement to clarify that a Muslim has the right to convert without being killed (known as the “Redda Law” that is common to all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence).

In fact, their leaders clearly say on Arabic satellite TV shows that there is full freedom to enter Islam but the situation is very different when it comes to leaving it. In other words, they just want to get acceptance in the eyes of Westerners by confirming that there is "no compulsion on religion" but are not truly ready to apply the true values of freedom of religion.

5. Rejecting Muslims who show real steps toward modernity. After receiving the Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan as a hero in Cairo airport when he visited Egypt in September, they turned completely against him once he encouraged secularism of the country.

Similarly, they kicked Abdel-Muneim Abu El-futooh (currently a possible presidential candidate in Egypt) from the MB. He is one of the few Muslim leaders who clearly supports the view that Islam must not intervene in personal freedoms of people such as forcing the dress code of women or banning drinking and selling of alcohol.

6. Tactical mutation. When the MB started by Hasan Al-Banna in 1928, it did not focus on making women wear the Hijab. The group was not very successful in changing the society. Later on, they realized that the best way to Islamicize a society was to promote an Islamic uniform for women (e.g. the Hijab) to put their minds in a continuous mental prison and facilitate the Islamization of the society.

In other words, they did a "mutation" in their tactical approaches to give more attention to promoting and enforcing the Hijab in the society even to young girls. This tactical mutation was an extremely successful tool that helped to change the Egyptian society.

The ability to study their own causes of failure and to develop effective tactical changes to achieve their Islamic goal is one of the main features of this group.

7. Diversion tactics. Recently more than 30 demonstrators of Tahrir Square were killed and thousands were injured in clashes between the demonstrators in Tahrir Square and the military. This led many Egyptians to plan a gathering of a million people and called it “Friday to save Egypt.”

The MB could not tolerate seeing the Egyptians giving their full attention to the future of their country. So instead of joining the millions of Egyptians in the demonstrations they asked for changing the slogan of the demonstration from "saving Egypt" to "saving Al-Aqusa Mosque."

This attempt to divert the attention of the Egyptian people from their local problems to the Palestinian cause illustrates the MB’s true focus for their global Islamic vision, rather than their care for Egypt itself. This is not surprising especially when we know that a few years ago, Mahdi Akef (the former leader of the MB of Egypt) said “Toz Fi Masr” which is a very insulting word in Arabic that generally means “Let Egypt go to Hell.”

Mahdi Akef said this statement in a huge gathering for different Islamic scholars and Ulema to emphasize to them that building the Islamic caliphate is much more important for individual countries. Irrespective of the context, the statement tells a lot about the true intensions and way of thinking of the MB.

In brief, the MB of Egypt uses several deceptive tactics. It is important that decision makers in the West understand these tactics to be able to deal with this organization appropriately.




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