The Muslim Brotherhood
Evolution of An Islamist MovementBook - 2013
The Muslim Brotherhood has achieved a level of influence nearly unimaginable before the Arab Spring. The Brotherhood was the resounding victor in Egypt's 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, and six months later, a leader of the group was elected president. Yet the implications of the Brotherhood's rising power for the future of democratic governance, peace, and stability in the region is open to dispute. Drawing on more than one hundred in-depth interviews as well as Arabic language sources not previously accessed by Western researchers, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham traces the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its founding in 1928 to the fall of Mubarak and the watershed elections of 2011-2012. Further, she compares the Brotherhood's trajectory with those of mainstream Islamist groups in Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco, revealing a wider pattern of change. Wickham highlights the internal divisions of such groups and explores the shifting balance of power among them. She shows that they are not proceeding along a linear path toward greater moderation. Rather, their course has been marked by profound tensions and contradictions, yielding hybrid agendas in which newly embraced themes of freedom and democracy coexist uneasily with illiberal concepts of Shari'a carried over from the past. Highlighting elements of movement continuity and change, and demonstrating that shifts in Islamist worldviews, goals, and strategies are not the result of a single strand of cause and effect, Wickham provides a systematic, fine-grained account of Islamist group evolution in Egypt and the wider Arab world.
Building her analysis upon structured interviews with movement members carried out between 2004 and 2011, Wickham (political science, Emory U.) explores dynamics of ideological and political change among the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. She counters sweeping generalizations of the group that declare them either for or against democracy or as moderate versus extremist, arguing that change within the group is not unidimensional and is characterized by inconsistencies and contradictions driven by lively factional divisions and debates that are conditioned by shifting responses to strategic and ideational pressures. Her analysis seeks to explain how these debates have to led to the Muslim Brotherhood's choices to pursue one path or the other over the course of its history and the ways in which such choices have helped shape its priorities in the present (although this work appears to have gone to press prior to the Brotherhood's suppression at the hands of the Egyptian military junta). Towards the end of the volume, she includes comparative analysis of the Islamic Action Front in Jordan, the Islamic Constitutional Movement in Kuwait, and the Movement of Unity and Reform and its political arm, the Justice and Development Party, in Morocco. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)