Brotherhood of Bloggers


The Muslim Brotherhood has discovered blogging. Writing in MERIP, Marc Lynch observes that there were about 150 Egyptian bloggers in the Islamist organization as of this past spring—"an impressive number given that less than a year before there had been virtually none." These diarists, Lynch argues, "have more in common with other young Egyptian activists, whether leftist or nationalist, than they do with their less wired peers":

Muhammad Hamza, a Muslim Brother and a blogger, identifies his as a "generation of the 2004 movement," shaped by the information revolution—satellite TV, cellular phones and the Internet—and the appearance of human rights organizations. Armed with handheld technology, this "2004 generation" obtains and analyzes information, and communicates with fellow Brothers and activists with other leanings, with rapidity and ease….Hamza acknowledges that the blogger-activists face significant internal criticism: They are too influenced by liberal ideas, other Brothers say, they want for clear political thought and defined goals, and they pay insufficient attention to the Brothers' imperative to proselytize (da'wa). Empowered by the new technology, fed up with the status quo and—for now—encouraged by at least some of Brotherhood leaders, the bloggers and activists have thus far shown little inclination to stand down….

Not all Brothers' blogs are part of a coordinated campaign, however. Over the last year, a growing number of youth have started the sort of individual online journals that would be familiar to youth anywhere. These Muslim Brothers often simply live online—whiling away the hours not just reading blogs, but participating in forums and posting to YouTube and the ubiquitous Facebook. While they engage in their share of political activism, many of their blogs are intensely personal. Like the youth of any country, they spend as much time writing about family and friends as about world affairs—as well as, of course, their religious faith. Like most Egyptians in their age group, they are viscerally concerned with the persistent unemployment, under-employment, inflation and affordable housing shortage that have made it exceedingly difficult for the last two generations of young Egyptians to marry and settle down according to social expectations. Lastly, these bloggers clearly do not share the salafi aversion to popular culture: Their blogs are full of disquisitions on their favorite songs and books and movies.