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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