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Arab Spring sprung: Supporters of Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt chant slogans during a rally in Cairo

In June, the House of Commons hosted a talk on the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and how it is spreading across the globe. Steven Merley, a former financial trader turned investigator of extremist movements, has probed the Brotherhood for over a decade. It is particularly active in Britain and according to Merley, its strategy is to "create mischief" with a heavy emphasis on Muslim victimhood including the charge that the West has been waging a war on Islam. This has been a powerful radicalising factor in young Muslims. 

The Brotherhood's tactic to advance this strategy, says Merley, has been to establish a dizzying number of organisations and initiatives which create the impression of broad-based support. In reality, the sponsors are the same individuals and groups whose leaders have not changed over decades. 

Just as the US Justice Department and FBI take Merley's work seriously, we should too. He is no ideologue and is as troubled by right-wing groups demonising ordinary Muslims today as he is by the Brotherhood itself. 

By "ordinary" Muslims he means the vast majority who see Islam as a religious belief, rather than the political ideology usually known as "Islamism". The latter is a variant of Islam developed over 80 years ago in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood's founder, a teacher called Hassan al-Banna.

Disturbed by what he perceived as the corrupting influence of Western secularism on Muslims, al-Banna believed that only a return to what he saw as the original and pure form of Islam would restore the Muslim world to former glory.

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December 14th, 2014
12:12 PM
This is the Muslim Brotherhood's official slogan - "God is our objective; the Qur'an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of God is our wish" Anyone who argues that this is a peaceful organisation should be arrested for stupidity.

November 21st, 2013
3:11 PM
I don't agree that all Muslims should not be under suspicion. I am not an extremist and I do not advocate street retaliation or disrespect to Muslims. The fact is that many Muslims I see in my home town of Ipswich UK are wearing jihad uniform and their women follow them wearing the extremist black coffin. This frighterns me. What must be considered is not that the same few extremists are responsible for a huge number of different extremist groups, but whether a majority of Muslims who John Ware and Steven Merley insist are 'moderate' would, in actuality, support the behaviour and threats of the extremely large minority of fundamentalists. In on such a scale, the majority of 'peaceful' Muslims my view, for murder and rape by Muslims of non believer to exist, peaceful Muslims have inevitably supported and sanctioned such behaviour. I am unable to contact any non believers who have developed freindly relationships with individual Muslims. I do not say there are not friendly Muslims who befriend non believers, just that I have never met them and I must say, I would be very happy to establish a friendly meeting with peaceful Muslims. I am not sure I would be comfortable with Muslims whose wives I am not allowed to talk to as i would any other women in a social group. But, I would very willingly make an effort. Can someone kindly comment about this possibility, please?

August 21st, 2013
7:08 PM
a very interesting article and pertinent to what is going on with the MB in Egypt today. Their spokesperson Mona is on every Western media TV channel trying to promote them as victims and 'peaceful' demonstrators when there is evidence, armed protesters, to the contrary. They burn christian churches and schools and attack the security services, yet this scarcely rates a mention in western media why? The MB must take a long hard look at its advocating of violent extremism if it wants to remain a viable political party

Frank P
July 10th, 2013
5:07 PM
Glad to see one of the stalwarts of TV investigative journalism on the case. Mr Ware, I suggest you and Steven Merley team up with Clare M Lopez and produce a documentary delineating the progress of the MB since the time of Eisenhower. It would be a timely intervention (Qaradawi's dalliance with Red Ken the erstwhile Toytown Mayor could be featured as a cameo). : Her seminal article was published on the morning of the Boston Marathon massacre and belies the assertion in your article that the FBI are up to speed on the MB. On the contrary, they appear to have been infiltrated by it. Sorry to note your departure from Panorama; you were one of the last bastions of the old school. Hope you screwed as good a pension from them as some of the recently departed parasites?

July 4th, 2013
4:07 PM
Why is it so difficult to understand that "political Islam" traces directly to the life, acts and teachings of its prophet? Mohammed personally led troops in battle against those who would not accept his message. The only reason we know his name and that of the religion he founded is that its armies swept across the world in bloody wars of expansionist conquest in its founding era. It was the booty of those wars that fuelled the much vaunted flowering of Islamic civilization. There is a stark contrast in tone and content between portions of the Qur'an composed before and after Mohammed gave up on winning over the population of Mecca by persuation, and turned to force instead (Hejira episode, inaugurating the Muslim era by marking the first year of the Muslim calendar). Those who would have us believe that Islam is a "religion of peace" cite verses from the pre-Hejira Qur'an, while the rest of the Qur'an and the facts of Islamic history remind us that it is a religion of war. It expanded by bloody conquest until it was stopped by force, and once constrained to live by its own resources, entered centuries of stagnation. Having caught the scent of weakness at its borders, the religion that commands all who would stand against it to submit, has again started stirring.

July 3rd, 2013
1:07 PM
"Let me be clear: followers of the Brotherhood in Britain are not advocating violent jihad here." Of course not! They would be crazy to foul their own next. Britain is far, far to valuable to them as a safe haven for recruitment, financing, logistics, propaganda and intelligence gathering. Naturally they do not want crazed lone wolfs like the murderers of Lee Rigby directing attention towards themselves. And please do not allow the left to get away with claiming "we would be condemning the Brotherhood if only it weren't for all those nasty right-wingers". The left love the Brotherhood because they think they can use it to advance their own ambitions. And vice versa.

July 3rd, 2013
9:07 AM
[Typo in last submission] Kudos to you Mr. Ware, and to Mr. Merley, for your principled stand that warns of us of the very real danger posed by Islamism while not taking the ill-advised "next step" advocated by the writer below. That step, represented by the "anti-Shariah" cult and its US leaders Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, would have us demonize all Muslims as a "threat to post-Judeo Christians" and runs a serious risk of tearing our societies apart through internecine conflict. Anybody who believes that "There is no Islamism, there is only Islam.." is so profoundly ignorant about the subject that we may safely ignore their hateful advice. Carry on with your valuable work!

July 3rd, 2013
9:07 AM
in addition the pernicious Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a available for download on militant and some not so militant, Arabic language sites. In fact the World Jewish conspiracy theory is very much alive and well, in Arabic. In English, the veil descends.

July 3rd, 2013
8:07 AM
There is no excuse for ignorance where Islam is concerned. A raft of literature on the subject is out there for consultation. including the Qur'an itself. That few choose to bother or prefer to listen to some media friendly and very pc experts gives great cause for concern. Meta commentary on Islam by Muslims also strikes a discordant note. Christianity is rarely allowed the luxury of that treatment. Atheists, agnostics, ex-es even Muslims step forward to do the job. Practising Christians need not bother. As truthseeker comments there is no secular in Islam. Secularism is a "western" concept. When used by "liberal" Muslims it still means that Islamic principles would inform the state with the Qur'an and shari'a as the ultimate sourcebooks. We seem to tolerate from Islam things that we would not except from Christians or Jews or Hindus. Islam is not about glazed tiles, calligraphy and doves flying over inner courts of friday mosques, it is about the hard reality of power, control, subjection.and showing disdain for God's enemies the unbelievers and punishing them by taxes or death if they will not submit. Submission to a particular God is at the heart of Islam, very bad for your health if you are not so inclined. But we already know that don't we?

Nick F.
July 2nd, 2013
3:07 PM
This is an interesting article. However, a couple of points. First, Islam and Islamism are not one and the same but the distinction drawn by the author, between an Islam which is religious and one that is political is simply incorrect. Islam is and always has had political language. See e.g., B. Lewis, The Political Language of Islam. Two, Islamism is a real interpretation of Islam but not the only interpretation. What is going on here is closer to what scholar Barry Rubin notes, which is multiple hands attempting to grab the steering wheel of a vehicle. At the moment, Islamism has its hands on the steering wheel in much of the Islamic world so that it, not more traditional Islamic movements, has the upper hand. Which is to say, Islamism is likely, in many parts of the Muslim world, to be the majority version of Islam. Third, there has never been a version of Islamism which is compatible with democracy. Islamism considers democracy to be a rejection of Allah's law. Fourth, the primacy of the dispute between Israelis and Arabs, while an important dispute, is not causal. Islamism is the work of the clerical class, which hopes to restore its power and prestige and to make Islam the supreme political force in the world. Israel is only one of many grievances but, to note, as the author correctly states, grievances are central to Islamism. As such, whatever occurs in the world that might somehow impact on Muslims will be spun by the Islamists to be a grievance. It is true, lastly, that Antisemitism goes to the heart of Islamism. Jews were said, before Israel's creation, to have conspired with Attaturk (or, in some versions of the story, Attaturk was a secret Jews) to eliminate the Caliphate and, hence, to emasculate Islamic power.

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