Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Muslim Brotherhood Youth in Leaders’ Fights

Sun 24 Oct 2021 | 04:22 PM
opinion .

The fight between the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood over the ill body of the group is getting wilder, day after day. Up till this moment, the battle is limited to the exchange of media statements between Ibrahim Munir’s front, based in London, and Mahmoud Hussein’s front, based in Istanbul. Each side is using their self-claimed authorities to dismiss the powers of the other side.

Yet, some experts suggest that this heated situation may escalate into actual acts of violence, at any moment. They claim that Mahmoud Hussein and fellow members of the dissolved Shura Office may attempt to assassinate Ibrahim Munir, who named himself the Acting Supreme Guide of the group. In fact, Al-Arabiya TV mentioned in a news report, two weeks ago, that Munir hired bodyguards to protect him against assassination attempts by his enemy brothers.

The potential use of violence, in the current battle between the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, brings to mind the question of where the group’s youth stand from their leaders. For violence to happen, the group’s trained youth should be involved. Where is the Muslim Brotherhood youth, today? Can any of the fighting leaders mobilize the extremely disappointed youth to their side? Which side will the Muslim Brotherhood take in this leadership fight?

While the fleeing leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood spent the past seven years, since their ouster from Egypt, fighting over elusive power positions in their dying organization; the Muslim Brotherhood has been shedding thousands of base members and sympathizers. Most of them are the Muslim Brotherhood youth, who are traumatized by the political failure of their leaders and the fact that they were left behind to pay the full price for the group’s failure.

A large chunk of the Muslim Brotherhood youth and grassroots sympathizers, got arrested by the Egyptian authorities, in the period between 2013 and 2015, for their involvement in riot and violent activities. In this period, the Muslim Brotherhood elements committed more than three thousand violent atrocities against policemen, innocent civilians, and state facilities; as documented by police and court records.

These violent activities, were implemented by youth, but funded and planned by the middle-leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who remained in Egypt after the top leaders either fled the country or got arrested. Their purpose was to create a state of uncontrollable chaos that forces the new Egyptian political leadership of President El-Sisi, to seek a political settlement with the Muslim Brotherhood, similar to the status the group enjoyed underSadat and Mubarak regimes.

In the immediate aftermath of removing the Muslim Brotherhood regime from power, in 2013, about 600 young members decided to resign from the group and design their own political Islamist party. They represented their bold move as a rebellion against the flawed policies of the group’s leaders that led to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

At that time, the dissident youth revealed to media that they refused to obey the leaders’ orders to practice violence andwreak havoc, all over Egypt. A few years later, this group of dissident Muslim Brotherhood youth disappeared with no footprint behind them, implying that their emergence at that time was only a tactical maneuver by the Muslim Brotherhood to ensure political survival inside Egypt, after their resounding fall in the firm grip of security forces.

Meanwhile, a huge number of the Muslim Brotherhood youth, roughly estimated by four thousand members, decided to follow the path of violent jihad to compensate for the group’s political failure. They were not only motivated by their psychological trauma and the need to prove themselves to their leaders and followers. More importantly, they wanted to keep the funding from external resources flowing to them, rather than to the leaders, by showing the group’s foreign sponsors and financers that they are the motor of the group.

Some of them formed small militias, such as HASM, and started operating inside Egypt until they got arrested in 2015. However, the majority of them fled Egypt to join terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State (ISIS), in the Levant and eastern Africa. In early October, Sudanese authorities announced the arrest of a terrorist cell affiliated to ISIS, that is led by an Egyptian young man, who used to be a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Several similar stories about the Muslim Brotherhood young members operating at terrorist organizations in Syria and Libya, have also been revealed, in the past few years.

Even the small number of the lucky Muslim Brotherhood youth, who managed to escape Egypt on the tail of the fleeing leaders, to Turkey and Qatar, are not suffering less than their peers as a result of the leaders’ selfishness. According to their own video statements, they have been treated like slaves by the group’s leaders, who held away their asylum and travel documents to force them to work with a marginal payment.

When they attempted to rebel using social media platforms, they were expelled out of their hardly paying jobs and some of them ended up homeless; sleeping on side pavements in Istanbul. Nevertheless, the recent restrictive measures taken by the Turkish authorities to curb the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities on its soil, as part of its reconciliation process with Egypt, has doubled their suffering. Most of them have got expired Egyptian passports and thus cannot move out of Turkey to another country, through legal channels.

Mahmoud Ezzat was the only person in the collapsing structure of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was able to contain the rebellious youth inside the group. They liked him to the extent that they took his side against the London-based leadership of Ibrahim Munir.

For them, he was the actual Supreme Guide. Ezzat made use of his popularity among the group’s youth to run a vast social media parade that gave the illusion, for domestic and international audience, that the group is still active and influential. When he got arrested by the Egyptian authorities, in August 2020, that extremely weakened the will of the rebellious youth against their leaders.

In August 2019, the Muslim Brotherhood youth, who are imprisoned in Egypt, leaked a hand-written letter directed to the Egyptian political leadership. In the letter, they asked the authorities to give them a second chance to review their ideas of violent jihadism, and thus re-merge them into Egyptian society as peaceful citizens. Also, in the letter, they made it clear that this is a youth initiative that has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership, whom they described as “distant and uncaring.” Yet, their appeals fell on deaf ears. The Egyptian political leadership of President El-Sisi is known for its unyielding stance against the Muslim Brotherhood. Similarly, El-Sisi has ignored several offers of reconciliation and compromise by the fleeing Muslim Brotherhood leaders, in the past five years.

In that sense, we may easily expect that the majority of the Muslim Brotherhood grassroots followers, especially the youth, are excited by the current fight between their fleeing leaders. It awakens hope in their hearts that the old leadership, which failed them more than once, is already falling; and thus, will be replaced by a more young and vibrant leadership that renews the blood in the Muslim Brotherhood veins. Yet, the important question remains unanswered about who, among the current Muslim Brotherhood youth, could be the right fit for this mission. So far, I cannot see any.