Muslim Brotherhood’s dilemma: Religion or politics?


The audacious decision of Tunisia’s Ennahda movement to separate politics and religion has raised the question of whether Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood would follow Ennahda’s course, notes Khalil al-Anani, an associate professor at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar. Pundits think the current crisis of the Brotherhood might prompt its leaders to consider taking a similar move and separating the two realms, he writes for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage:

Furthermore, while some of the Brotherhood’s exiled figures highlighted that they are weighing the idea of separating political and religious activities, others reject it as not viable or realistic. No matter the outcome of the Brotherhood’s ongoing discussion over this issue, assuming it exists, the movement faces many hurdles that preclude reaching a decision similar to that of Ennahda’s.

Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s regime has put the movement under unprecedented pressure, with no communication between the leadership and the grass-roots organizers, which has led to significant differences and divisions within the Brotherhood, adds the author ofInside the Muslim Brotherhood: Religion, Identity, and Politics”:

For the first time, the movement has two sets of leaders, inside and outside Egypt. They disagree over almost everything, from policy to tactics. With such a hostile and divisive environment, any decision to separate religion and politics would create more divisions and problems — and might even shatter the movement…. Any attempt to genuinely separate religion and politics would require fundamental changes in the Brotherhood’s organization, ideology and socialization programs, which seem unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.


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