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Monday, 14 October 2019

The desperation of the Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood’s latest attempt to move back onto the political scene in Egypt by broadcasting Internet videos from a contractor based abroad is its most desperate to date, writes Hany Ghoraba

Hany Ghoraba , Wednesday 25 Sep 2019
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For a group that has managed to survive many challenges since its formation in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is reaching a point of unprecedented breakdown in its country of origin, Egypt. 

Through many periods, from that of former king Farouk in the 1940s and early 1950s all the way to former president Hosni Mubarak in the decades before the 25 January Revolution, the group has attempted to proclaim its innocence and its victimisation, due to a lack of awareness of its true intentions. Some people may even have believed its claims, especially when it was expressing dissent towards a then ruler. 

This situation changed dramatically after the group managed to steal victory in the parliamentary and presidential elections in Egypt in 2012, when what the group had been disclaiming for decades became an apparent fact for the whole Egyptian nation. For the first time, Egyptian citizens learned about the group first-hand and not through books or the works of political analysts. Muslim Brotherhood members from the group’s general guide all the way down to the pettiest member no longer held back in showing their faces, which they had previously kept hidden. It didn’t take long for the Egyptian people to realise the Muslim Brotherhood’s true intentions. 

The Brotherhood’s latest attempt to move back onto the Egyptian political scene must be its most ludicrous and desperate to date. Over the past few weeks, the Brotherhood, through a series of videos published by an unknown contractor residing in Spain, has been spreading rumours of corruption in the Egyptian army, all without a shred of evidence. Most recently, the videos have started to be seen on YouTube and other social-media networks. 

The contractor in question, who has not produced a single document to support the lies he has been propagating about the Egyptian army, now turns out to be the one who is engaged in fraud. He is wanted for fake bank loans and an assortment of legal issues that include a contested inheritance within his own family. Nevertheless, Brotherhood-operated networks have propagandised the lies of this contractor as if he were infallible and have used an intensive, paid media campaign on YouTube that has created ripples on the Internet. Among most Egyptians, on the other hand, this campaign has produced nothing but disgust at the group’s twisted shenanigans. 

The so-called contractor has claimed in his YouTube videos that he has been working with dozens of others with the army on projects in Egypt over the past 15 years, but then all of a sudden has switched to criticising the same mega-projects that have been supervised by the Army Engineering Authority despite their having been completed in the same period on record time and to impeccable quality. 

Anyone who has worked on Egyptian army projects will know that one of their traits is the abundance of paperwork involving every single detail of any and every commercial or construction transaction. It therefore must be the case that the story of unrecorded transactions put out by this anonymous contractor is a complete fabrication and the work of someone who did not honour his contractual obligations and who then fled the country. 

Over recent weeks, the terrorist-supporting media networks Mekameleen and Al-Sharq, both based in Turkey, have been broadcasting the drivel put out by this contractor, treating it as a source of fact. A call for revolution in Egypt was made in one of the videos put out by the contractor and propagandised by promoted accounts on Twitter. Most of these accounts were set up in August and September this year, and they are either anonymous or use fake names. 

This campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood is an attempt to cover up two major scandals that have hit the group’s core. The first was the siphoning off of donations to the group by a number of its leaders, including by de facto general guide Ibrahim Mounir, who is based in the UK, and by others, including Mahmoud Hussein, who have embezzled millions of dollars of donations to the group and used this cash to purchase properties and cars for themselves and others. 

This scandal was exposed by Amir Bassam, a member of the Brotherhood’s Shura Council (executive body), in June 2019 in a recording shared by a Brotherhood youth member. This caused a ripple effect within group ranks, especially among young members since Bassam said these were desperate to receive a monthly allowance equivalent to $35 while living in Turkey when others were living in luxury homes and driving BMW cars. 

The second scandal was Mounir’s disregard and disdain for the group of Muslim Brotherhood youth members, around 1,500 in number, who had submitted an initiative to seek a reconciliation with the security authorities in Egypt by relinquishing their membership of the Brotherhood and vowing not to take part in politics henceforward. The initiative was not given much attention, given the Brotherhood’s historical lack of respect for its own members and frequent betrayal of its vows. 

More importantly, it was Mounir’s lack of sympathy for the imprisoned Brotherhood youth members that was most striking. He said in an interview on the Qatari TV network Aljazeera that “no one had forced” these young men to join the group and that if they wanted out, they should simply relinquish their beliefs and “just go.” This statement caused a major breakdown within the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood and caused many youth members to rebel against their elders, seeing the latter as having effectively thrown them under a bus and led them like lemmings to jump over a cliff on the orders of their leaders. 

The group’s image is in tatters even among its own members, and no longer can it brag about an image of solidarity and unity that is now non-existent. As a result, the Brotherhood has now decided to spread propaganda from abroad through calls for a so-called revolution, a pseudo one at best. Its calls for gatherings and for taking down the government have not been met by positive responses from almost all Egyptians, who are now much more aware of the devious tactics of the group and the damage it has caused the nation than they may have been in the past. 

In its attempt to fake a revolution in Egypt, the Brotherhood has gone to great lengths online and through social media. Its members have faked and re-edited old videos of protests and gatherings, including of people celebrating football victories with edited-in sounds of their apparently shouting slogans against the government. After the videos were exposed as fakes, Aljazeera, which had helped the group to spread the videos, issued an apology even though the plot failed to garner attention. The Brotherhood has even gone so far as to fake a Facebook page in the name of the Armed Forces to suggest that there is dissent within the ranks of the army in another desperate attempt to sow discord within the nation. All this, of course, is simply aimed to divert attention away from the rifts within the terrorist group itself.

No amount of fake news will destabilise the Egyptian state, even if this simple message cannot be got into the thick heads of the Brotherhood leadership along with the terrorism-supporting regimes of Qatar and Turkey. Crafty, if ludicrous, though the Brotherhood’s video plot was, it was in vain, and it will join the other failed attempts of the desperate group to sow discord in the country. The vast majority of Egyptian citizens treat the Muslim Brotherhood as part of a dark past that has no place in a modern Egypt that is being rebuilt at record rates. 

Even so, a firmer stance must be taken against the terrorism-supporting regimes of Qatar and Turkey. There is a need to expose these for what they are to the world and to make them pay for the damage they have done over the past decade.


 

The writer is a political analyst and author of Egypt’s Arab Spring and the Winding Road to Democracy.

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 September, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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