By Souad Sbai
“Political Islam is dead.” This is the sentence issued by Olivier Roy during the meeting focused on the dialogue between religions and cultures “Meeting for Friendship among Peoples” held in Rimini. The analyzes that support the thesis proposed by the famous French scholar are certainly wise and the authority of the source covers them with that aura of credibility capable of persuading the public and the media. But is it really like that? Is political Islam really “dead” and with it “jihad is also dead globally”?
These questions should be asked directly to those who today embody political Islam. I mean the Muslim Brotherhood, Sunnis and Shiites. What would Erdogan, the Emirs of Qatar, Sheikh Al Qaradawi and the Supreme Guide of the Khomeinist Iran, Ali Khamenei, answer? What would Hezbollah, the Houthi and the militants of the Muslim Brotherhood and their transnational networks (that find in Istanbul, Doha and Tehran the main points of reference on the road to the Caliphate that will one day return) respond?.
The answer would be a great and sincere “thank you”. In fact, proclaiming the end of political Islam is equivalent to hiding the current existence of a threat both to the peace and security in the Middle East and North Africa and to the human rights of the peoples in the region: an incentive for Muslim Brotherhood’s ambitions, which despite the missteps of the Arab Spring have never given up the goal of conquering power to establish fundamentalist dictatorships through overthrows of the regime and of democratic elections.
Furthermore, proclaiming the end of political Islam is an incentive for the Muslim Brotherhood to continue with the modus operandi so far adopted in Europe, including Italy, where it is naturally easier to advance the fundamentalist agenda if the mosques, cultural centers and imams financed by Qatar are not recognized as belonging to the Brotherhood but are misrepresented as an expression of moderate Islam. “Qatar Papers” docet.
Would they also thank the (false?) Prophets of the death of political Islam in the contemporary jihadist international community, that is inspired by Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology. Should we cease to be interested in radicalized people, as Roy suggests, because “Al Qaeda and ISIS have been defeated on the field and [only] some fighters who are linked to local conflicts” resist here and there in the world? This contrasts with the more recent terrorism alarms launched by the UN and the European Union, which shed light on a reality very different from the one foreshadowed by Roy. In fact, indoctrination and recruitment progress incessantly both on the web and in prisons and this is a sign of the vitality of both ideology and jihadist networks.
Emphasize the fact that political Islam has so far not achieved its objectives, in no way certifies its death. The failures that took place during and after the Arab Spring – in terms of government capacity (Egypt) or for not having succeeded in provoking the desired regime changes (Syria) to conquer the exclusivity of power (Tunisia, Libya) or in maintaining the conquered territories (ISIS in Syria and Iraq) – are part of that road to the Caliphate that the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist groups know that it will be long and full of obstacles, with falls and unfavorable moments, but also with resurgence and propitious occasions that they are ready to take advantage.
The Secretary General of the World Muslim League, Muhammad Al Issa, who spoke at the Rimini Meeting immediately after Olivier Roy, is well aware of this fact. Former Saudi Justice Minister of Justice, Al Issa comes from a region – the Gulf – whose countries have suffered the harmful influence of Muslim Brotherhood’s political Islam. The conflict that sees the Anti-Terrorism Quartet (made up of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt) facing against Qatar represents the Arab world’s attempt to free itself once and for all from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hydra. A hydra that will remain alive and lurking as long as there are rogue states led by the Islamist leadership that offers support, along with Western intellectuals and academics who, consciously or unconsciously, provide a vital force when they declare their death.