In March 2014 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior issued a list of groups banned from operating within the Kingdom. The list, which was issued as part of a royal order, included groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS,) Al-Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front, Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia and the Houthi movement. But what was remarkable was that the Muslim Brotherhood was also included on this list of groups designated as terrorist organizations.
Fast-forward to today and France is considering the status of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prior to this, Britain set up a special commission to investigate the Islamist group’s views and practices. In the Arab world, Egypt and the UAE of course, both regard the Brotherhood as an illegal and illegitimate group.
There is currently a global trend towards reconsidering the definition of the Brotherhood out of the sense that its very existence, ideology and activities represent a major source of harmful political activities and extremism.
Without people like Sayyid Qutb and Hassan Al-Banna, and books like Milestones, and The Messages of Da’wa, or concepts like Al-Hakimiyyah (divine rule) and Ustaziatul Alam (mastership of the world,) there would have been no Islamist terrorism today. There would be no terrorist chiefs like Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi or Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. There would be no Khalid Islambouli, who assassinated President Sadat. There would be no jihadist ideologues like Abdullah Azzam, Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani.
All these figures initially drew their ideology from the Brotherhood source. The Brotherhood served as a social and educational incubator for even more dangerous views and ideologies. Even the Brotherhood’s own views represent a destructive and misleading web of deception, the group forces its own worldview on its followers, ensuring that they view everything from just one narrow perspective.
Saudi Arabia’s antagonistic stance towards the Brotherhood is nothing new. After the Gulf War, the Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia shared a complex relationship that was formed under well-known historical circumstances, but the Brotherhood betrayed the Kingdom after it had initially sought its assistance. Following this, Saudi Arabia changed its view of the Islamist group and its followers and their relationship gradually changed from one of tacit trust to outright suspicion.
In a 2002 interview with Kuwait’s Alseyassah newspaper, former Saudi Interior Minister and Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz, said: “I say it without hesitation: All of our problems . . . came from the Muslim Brotherhood. When their circumstances became tough and gallows were set up for them in their countries, they [Brotherhood] relied on the Kingdom, which saved their lives and their dignity and made them safe. We hosted them, which is our duty . . . We found work for them . . . opened our schools and universities for them, but unfortunately they did not forget their previous links and were set on recruiting people and establishing [political] trends and turned against the Kingdom.”
The former Crown Prince, may God rest his soul, ended his statement with a quote from the Qu’ran. “Is the reward for good [anything] but good?” [Surat Al-Rahman; Verse 55].
If the Brotherhood abandons its deceitful habits, then they are welcome. Otherwise, things will remain the same.