E-Militias of the Muslim Brotherhood

E-Militias of the Muslim Brotherhood: How to Upload Ideology on Facebook

This is a fascinating piece on the Egyptian Muslim Brothers social media propaganda strategy by Linda Herrera and Mark Lotfy for Jaddaliya:

The Brotherhood’s presence on social media is slippery, hard to pin down with precision since much of its activity is camouflaged. It appears that the MB operates on five tiers. First, there is its official presence, as represented with the page of their political party, the Freedom and Justice Party. Second are the pages that initially appeared to be independent, but turned out to be orchestrated platforms with complete loyalty to the Brotherhood.  RNN (shabakat rasd), a news network that is approaching two million “likes,” fits this category. When RNN was first launched on 25 January, 2011 at the start of the Egyptian revolution, its Administrators were anonymous and the page appeared to be an independent entity, though a highly professional and well oiled one. Its masks have since come off and the page is known as a Brotherhood page in all but name. RNN has grown into a regional platform with branches in Libya, Syria, Morocco, Turkey, and Palestine. The third tier are pages with sympathies to the MB whose Admins post or do things in support of the Brotherhood line. Fourth are concealed pages, ones that on the surface do not appear to have anything to do with politics or the MB, but in a critical moment, like prior to the presidential runoff elections, expose themselves as pro-Brotherhood pages. Finally, the fifth tier are the E-militia foot soldiers who—using both real and fake profiles—scout out pages and Facebook discussions to interject points to influence opinion towards the Brotherhood position.

Very important to remember that one of the MB's key beliefs is in the importance of indoctrination, especially of youth. One shudders to think of their plans for the ministries of education or state television. 

In Translation: The Revolutionary Youth Coalition's final report

We're really fortunate to bring to you a long translation of an important document today — one made possible by the upstanding chaps at Industry Arabic, who provide great Arabic translation services and more. If you or your business have need of top-notch translation from Arabic into another language, please give them a try and help them keep on helping us.

The Revolutionary Youth Coalition was the most important umbrella group to emerge out of the protest movement of January 25. It continued to be the main reference and contact point for "youth" for several interlocutors in the months that followed Mubarak's overthrow, holding meetings with state representatives and often representing protestors at national conferences and elsewhere. On July 8, the Coalition announced its dissolution and published the document below —  an examination of its actions, mistakes and successes in the last sixteen months. As the writers note, such self-examination is rare in Egyptian politics, particularly as it has descended into a circus in the last few months. It makes for poignant reading, and I've added a few notes for clarification.

An Account of the Actions of the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth

From the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth Facebook page, July 8, 2012.

We believe that every experience should either continue or end according to facts on the ground and logical reasoning. And — even though it is not standard operating procedure in Egypt — we believe it is necessary that every group and/or political entity submit a transparent and clear account that outlines what the organization has done over time, be it good or bad.

Under exceptional circumstances, like that of the great Egyptian people’s Revolution, we contend that it is our duty to publish this account for the Egyptian public, for they placed their trust in the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, as well as for those who criticized the organization. This account is also dedicated to the best of Egypt’s youth – the activists and believers in the goals and values of this revolution and similar revolutionary movements – as well as for that sector of the Egyptian elite who did what they could in service to this nation. This is for the admirable victims of this revolution who paid the greatest price and who continue to do so for the sake of this revolution; and this is also for the souls of the revolutionary martyrs who continue to fall – up to today – in anticipation of the day when this nation will achieve freedom and dignity, the day when each Egyptian will receive his demands for “Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice.”

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The Muslim Brothers and their heretics

One of the more significant developments taking place in Egyptian politics in the last few years is the fragmentation of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is perhaps part of a wider erosion of its monopoly on non-violent political Islam in Egypt. The rise of the Salafis may be a cause for concern, but the movement of young Muslim Brothers who left the Brotherhood to form their own movement, joined by major former leaders such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Mohammed Habib, is telling of the creation of a wider Islamist identity. And I think that's a good thing, because it dampens the authoritarianism that exists in the Brotherhood's tradition of discipline and hierarchy.

This testimony by a young former Brother is excellent, especially when talking about why he's not tempted to rejoin now that the Brotherhood is in a position to have real influence on society.

On sexuality and social radicalism in Egypt

Amidst all the worry about fundamentalists and military fascists and felool and insecurity in Egypt, the last few days have seen a decidely odd and unexpected phenomenon. First a young woman by the name of Alia Magda al Mahdi, who appears to be dating the formerly imprisoned blogger and radical atheist Kareem Amer, published a nude picture (full-frontal!) of herself on her blog as a an act of defiance (see more about it here). Then we hear about a Facegroup group calling for a "gay day" in Egypt. Not as in happy, but as in LGBTQ. 

Seeing things like this is a little bit of a shell-shock, because people are obsessed with the political process and Egypt's flawed transition all this stuff almost seems silly and juvenile in comparison. I love it all the more for it, although I also worry about Alia's safety and society's response. Egypt, to be blunt about it, is a deeply bigoted and narrow-minded place. Some people may even be angry with her for associating secular/liberal values with what many will simply see as debauchery.

I don't want to get into a discussion about cultural sensitivity and all that, but simply note and applaud the sheer brazenness of acts like this: they are so radical in this society they appear as if they are from another dimension. Societies need that kind of jolt every now and then, and it reminds me how the youth bulge in the demographics of Egypt and many Arab countries will inevitably shatter taboos, as the Baby Boomers did in Europe and the US. We should just remember that protestors of May 68 in Paris, as influential as they were, were dwarfed by the demonstrations of support for De Gaulle, and that the generation that gave us hippies in America gave us many more born-again Christians. 

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

The Facebook kids meet the generals

Over at the We Are All Khaled Said Facebook group, there  is a fascinating summary of the meeting between some of the young protest organizers and the military. The meeting included Ahmad Maher, Asmaa' Mahfouz (both from 6 April) Wael Ghonim, Khaled El Sayyid, Mohammed Abbas, Amr Salama and Abdul Rahman Samir, a Baradei supporter (not sure why all the members of the revolutionary youth council weren't there) and the post expresses the views of Ghonim and Salama. 

I'm not going to translate the whole thing but here are some highlights:

The meeting is described in very positive terms: "We noticed an absence of paternalism in the conversation ('You don't know your own interest, son.') For the first time we sat with an Egyptian official who listened more than he spoke." Although the young participants did tell the military they should have a better media communications strategy (please! enough with these cryptic SMS messages). 

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The year of spontaneous combustion

My new al-Masri al-Youm column is up. This week, I wanted to do something else than the obvious (write about Tunisia or its impact on Egypt), so I decided to be a little more adventurous. Like many people I was aghast at the wave of self-immolations over the last few days, and imagined what might happen if they continue (let's hope they don't). It's written from the perspective of January 1, 2012.

At first, when it began nearly a year ago, many people thought it was just a copycat fad that would soon disappear. Inspired by the events of the Tunisian uprising, people--mainly young men--began to set themselves on fire.

Read the rest.

Links for Jan.10.10 to Jan.11.10

“Lorsque je commençais mon enquête sur le tourisme au Sahara marocain, je n’imaginais pas être prise à témoin d’échanges sexuels” « Ibn Kafka's obiter dicta – divagations d'un juriste marocain en liberté surveillée | On sexual tourism in Western Sahara. ✪ What the "Eurabia" Authors Get Wrong About Islam in Europe - By Justin Vaïsse | Foreign Policy | Critique of Eurabia theory. ✪ The Trials of Tony Judt - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | ✪ U.S. to store $800m in military gear in Israel - Haaretz | To keep in mind in context of Iran. ✪ Israel and Iran: The gathering storm | The Economist | Interesting story with background on Osirak bombing, Israeli prospects against Iran. ✪ Executive | Magazine has new books section. ✪ Strong reaction to warning of coup - The National Newspaper | Iraqis react to UK ambassador's testimony to Chilcot Enquiry that coup to purge Iran influence still possible in Iraq. ✪ the arabophile | New blog. ✪ Joe Sacco: Graphic History | Mother Jones | Interview with the cartoonist and author of "Footnotes from Gaza." ✪ High cost of living means more unmarried in Egypt | Bikya Masr | Stats on why Egyptians are marrying later. ✪ Arab Reform Initiative | Report on constitutional reforms in the Arab world. ✪ The architecture of apartheid | SocialistWorker.org | On the bantustanization of Palestine. ✪ The Venture of Marty Peretz’s bigotry: Arabs, Muslims, Berbers and more « The Moor Next Door | Kal on the New Republic editor's Islamophobia. ✪ The Forgotten Recantation — jihadica | Interesting post on the recantation of Abbud al-Zommor. ✪ 'Bush sold Arab states arms in violation of deal with Israel' - Haaretz - Israel News | Obama, more pro-Israel than Bush: "The Bush administration violated security related agreements with Israel in which the U.S. promised to preserve the IDF's qualitative edge over Arab armies, according to senior officials in the Obama administration and Israel."
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Del.icio.us links for November 21st

Automatically posted links for November 21st:

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