JAFFA, Israel – The Islamic State has been exploiting mounting divisions within Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood – which culminated in the movement’s failure to organize a meaningful protest on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution last week – to recruit young Islamists.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main opposition movement, is divided over how to respond to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s ongoing crackdown against it. Some favor nonviolent protest, while others push for more radical measures.
The London-based Al Hayat newspaper reported on Saturday that IS has been stepping up efforts to attract Islamic youths who are disillusioned with the Brotherhood.
The paper mentioned a video, covered previously by Breitbart Jerusalem, in which an IS activist appeals to Muslim Brotherhood supporters, urging them to rise up against Sisi, who deposed the Brotherhood’s president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
Mohammed Yassin, a Muslim Brotherhood official, was quoted as saying that the younger the supporters are the more belligerent they become in their approach to the regime.
Najeh Ibrahim, a scholar of political Islam, told the paper that the video seeks to arouse an emotional reaction.
“It seeks to spurn the youths into action, in light of the movement’s failures to implement its policy since Morsi’s ouster in July 2013,” he said. “But I think that the movement as such would not dare officially opt for violence, which will probably lead some supporters to join IS, but as individuals and not as a movement.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s calls for mass protests on January 25 were met with bitter disappointment. The movement’s leadership hoped that the protests would be “the first chapter in a new revolutionary wave against the coup d’état staged by the military chief Abdel Fatah Sisi in the summer of 2013, before his election as president in 2014.”
The Egyptian government stepped up security measures ahead of the anniversary, especially in areas known as Muslim Brotherhood strongholds and around Tahrir Square, which was cordoned off.