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Crown fellow speaks on Muslim movement
Crown fellow speaks on Muslim movement
Crown Center for Middle East Studies fellow Abdel Monem Said Aly, Ph.D., addressed the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood-an Orthodox religious political movement-to the political mainstream ...
Tuesday, October 9,2007 09:52
by Hisham Ali-Khan thejusticeonline.com

Crown Center for Middle East Studies fellow Abdel Monem Said Aly, Ph.D., addressed the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood-an Orthodox religious political movement-to the political mainstream at the Center"s first brown-bag lunch last Wednesday in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium.

The Brotherhood, Egypt"s most popular opposition group, has been gaining power in Arab democracies but faces the threat of modernization, according to Aly, who is also director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a think tank that performs research on social, economic and political issues in the Arab world.

Aly explained that the Brotherhood, which advocates Islamic sharia-style reform and has historically been in conflict with ruling regimes, has been tolerated to an extent in Arab countries, yet remains illegal to join and is subjected to periodic crackdowns.

The Brotherhood has been gaining power through various means including "elections, civic society and syndicates," Aly said. Calling themselves Islamic Democrats, their agenda includes establishing Islam as the official religion, because, in their view, the state has essential religious functions, he said.

Aly said it is important to engage Islamists and to know their shades of extremism. He compared the rise of Islamic movements within the framework of democracies, drawing specific parallels to Turkey.

Although Turkey has taken more of a religious direction, the process of modernization and economic liberalization has significantly moderated religious groups like the Brotherhood and isolated more of their extremist elements to the fringes of society, he said.

Aly predicted that if socio-economic development continued to occur in Egypt at the seven percent growth rate for the next five years, "membership in the Brotherhood would significantly decrease."After the discussion, Director of Union Affairs Jason Gray "10 remarked, "The biggest political issue we will be facing effectively is how to deal with the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism. It is interesting to note that even the so-called moderates are quite extreme."


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