Muslim Brotherhood's mysterious Wikis
Muslim Brotherhood's mysterious Wikis
Thursday, February 25,2010 11:04
By Evgeny Morozov

In case you needed another proof that one doesn't have to be a pro-Western, pro-secular, and pro-democracy liberal to take advantage of opportunities offered by new media, here it comes. A recent article in Al-Masry Al-Youm discusses efforts by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to document their own history on the Web. And what are the tools they've chosen to do it? Wikis!

The wiki, which is still in its early stages with a little over 1700 accessible articles, provides the Ikhwan perspective of their own history and events in which they were involved or believe to be closely tied to their Islamic or political cause--a mini Ikhwan library for those who don't have access to the Brotherhood's literature or to writings by their thinkers that are available in some Islamic bookstores.

Under the section "Ideology of the group" a wide range of subjects can be found, with politics and religion interweaving--as is the case with the Brotherhood's dogma itself. Essays published on the wiki involve abstract concepts like freedom and matters of spirituality. One essay is titled "Love in God"--a concept directly connected to the idea that Muslims should love and ally with other pious Muslims and avoid "sinners," or those who have strayed from the right path.

The wiki also links to Brotherhood forums and websites and is hosted by a server based in the United States, which makes it near impossible for Egypt's internet watchdogs at the Interior Ministry to crackdown on the site as they did several years earlier with the first website, which was hosted from Egypt.

This is a very intriguing development. I'll wait for Marc Lynch to weigh in with a deeper look at how it might affect the internal politicsl of the movement. My own (rather uninformed) speculation is that Wikis can reveal some interesting tensions within the Brotherhood. Anyone who has followed Wikipedia community's own attempts to reach consensus on controversial editorial issues would know that the amount of potential tension that can be revealed and chanelled through Wiki is almost unlimited. Given the existing ideological splits between the movement's old guard and its younger Internet-savvy elements, it would be interesting to watch their Wiki space, particularly its sections on the role of women in the political process and their interpretation of the most pivotal events in their own history.

I am somewhat skeptical that the old guard would be involved in contesting the truth in the Wiki wars with the younger generation, mostly because they are not online and surely see the Internet as evil. So we've got several possibilities here: 1) the Wiki might force the elders to finally get comfortable with new technology and adopt it to ensure that their own conservative positions are not discarded 2) the Wiki is just a facade - a marketing trick to bolster Brotherhood's media-savvy credentials in the country and abroad - and all articles/dates have already been carefully selected and pre-approved (there would be no "editing wars"). Somehow, option 2 seems more likely to me.

MB Wiki Site