Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review: The Muslim Brotherhood, by Author Carrie Rosefsky Wickham

Book Review: The Muslim Brotherhood, by Author Carrie Rosefsky Wickham

When the Arab Spring swept through the Middle East in 2009 and 2010, it should have been obvious to many that the void it would create would not be filled by true Western Democracy, as many believed. Western Democracy was the only Democracy that people could reference. Instead, the void was filled by the most popular movement in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ikhwan, in Arabic.

Author Carrie Rosefsky Wickham has completed the most recent look at this powerful religious-political movement in her new book "The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement."

Although the book does not explain the dynamics of recent headlines that resulted in the election of Mohammed Morsi, the Brotherhood's candidate, as the first Democratically elected president of Egypt in June 2012, or the military coup that followed one year later in July 2013, it offers a solid foundation to understand what this movement really was, what it experienced and what it can be about.

Wickham's book is more of an academic review of the Brotherhood's history, heavy with footnotes and more of a dissertation probably not suited for the average reader, it still is the freshest examination of the movement. The Brotherhood is not just a religious political growth in Egypt but has spread throughout the Middle East into Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. What happens in Egypt is an indicator of what could and might happen in the other Arab countries where the Brotherhood enjoys widespread religious populist support.

Wickham traces the evolution of the Brotherhood from its founding in 1928 to the recent and failed attempt by Egypt's last dictator Husni Mubarak to destroy it, or at least imprison and arrest its expansion. Mubarak remains in a new prison of the Arab Spring, which continues to swirl with uncertainty through the Arab World. Her work is very detailed and essential to understanding how the current conflict in Egypt under the new "Democratic" military leaders may evolve.

Reading the book, and looking back at its history, it is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood is not something that can be easily swept away even by powerful military leaders in today's Egypt, or even by the secular front of Arabs that is its greatest challenge. Whether they are in prison, in power or on the crest of a new Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood will be around for a long time and will be a major player in defining not only Egypt but the entire Middle East region.

Wickham is an associate professor of political science at Emory University. She is the author of Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt, and one of the leading authorities on Egyptian politics and history.

Published by Princeton University Press
Princeton, New Jersey, and Oxford, England 2013
360 pages

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