by Mansour Alnogaidan
Since the 1990s, thousands of young people have been induced to support the rise of political Islam. They fell prey to its deception — a mix of feigned courage, psychological pressure, and a penchant for declaring states and societies en toto to be infidels.
Elder Brotherhood leaders imposed a distorted view of the world on their young followers, both male and female. In doing so, they spawned a wave of social acrimony. To be sure, they also fostered a willingness to demand greater accountability from Arab rulers and their governments. But the nature of these demands was informed by a radical religious ideology — fraught with xenophobia, resistance to modernity, conspiracy theories about foreign elements, and abhorrence of international treaties with Western, so-called “infidel” powers.
In the face of these impositions, a negligible minority of intellectuals and civic actors have stood up to the rising Islamist tide. Some tried to engage government officials privately, attempting to advance ideas they could not safely convey in public spaces such as university halls and literary salons, let alone media outlets. Those who spoke out faced intimidation by a massive Islamist network that permeated a range of institutions, including the government itself. Political leaderships meanwhile relinquished their duty to support anti-Islamist voices, effectively appeasing the Muslim Brotherhood.
Writers, researchers, and journalists were afraid to publish an article or utter a word against Islamism without first ensuring that the government would protect them. They waited for an official to tell them, “Rest assured we are with you.” Qatar, the Brotherhood’s leading state sponsor, abetted the violent forces that made such arrangements necessary. And over the two years following the “Arab Spring” upheavals — 2011 and 2012 — Qatar-backed Islamist intellectuals played a role in stoking this destructive climate. They had the wind at their backs, as well, thanks to further support from Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a White House policy of acquiescence bordering on outright endorsement of Islamist movements. Were it not for the UAE’s willingness to confront the Brotherhood from the beginning, the region’s bitter present-day realities would have been even worse.
It behooves public voices who understand the danger of Islamism to recognize the pernicious role of Qatar in this global ordeal. One cannot honestly take a stand against the spectrum of Islamist organizations without doing so. Life is short, and any one individual’s ability to confront the movement’s hold on many societies. It is nonetheless a duty of conscience, faith, and patriotism to do one’s utmost. Those who have succumbed to this ideology must overcome their own instincts in order to play a part. Their disadvantage only adds to the responsibility of those whom the Brotherhood never managed to infect.