Associate Scholar, FPRI/Adjunct Lecturer, Haverford College
Few observers foresaw the Arab Spring, but it should not have surprised anyone that the Islamist movements – the most organized movements in the Arab world – became the main beneficiaries of the turmoil that ensued. Islamism, in its gradualist and pragmatic approach embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots worldwide, seems ready to reap the rewards of its three decades-old decision to abandon violence and focus on grassroots activities. This monumental change has created many concerns among liberals, religious minorities and, more generally, all non-Islamists in the countries where Islamists have won. In addition, Arab states ruled by non-Islamist regimes have expressed concern. The former worry that Islamist ideology ? even in its more contemporary, pragmatic form ? remains deeply divisive and anti-democratic, often at odds with their values and interests. The latter believe that on foreign policy issues, most of the positions of various Brotherhood-inspired parties are on a collision course with the policies of established regimes in the region.
In association with Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre (based in the United Arab Emirates), the Foreign Policy Research Institute has just published as an E-Book The West and the Muslim Brotherhood After the Arab Spring, edited by Lorenzo Vidino. The book provides an overview of each of eight countries’ policies towards Islamism, including the United States, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and Israel. In this program, Vidino highlights the key lessons of the volume, and comment is offered by Abdullah Bijad Alotibi and Joseph Braude.