Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt seeing steady defections

Egypt’s Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, is facing a pattern of defecting members who are publicly speaking and writing about the group and facing few restrictions in doing so, writes Mustafa Menshawy in the journal Religions (12). In the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the election of Mohamed Morsi as the country’s president in 2012, the once-powerful Muslim Brotherhood has faced strong restrictions, including violent repression, as well as the defection of members. There have long been defections from the Muslim Brotherhood in its almost 100-year history, often under the penalty of apostasy, but the recent cases have spanned generations and rank-and-file and leadership positions. In an analysis of exiting members’ autobiographical writings, which have gained publicity in Egyptian society in recent years, as well as in-depth interviews with these former members, Menshawy, from the University of Manchester (UK), finds several factors at work in these defections. He finds that disengagement from the movement became easier as members became disillusioned with the political maneuvering of its leaders and were won over by the hopes of the Arab Spring protests and by the realization that there were other Muslim voices and interpretations of Islam. “Furthermore, a part of the change is the shift inaccessibility. The Brotherhood can no longer disseminate its dominant ideology across the ranks of what is meant to be a well-organized, hierarchically-shaped movement. Almost 50 percent of its members are ‘inactive,’ according to some estimates.”