Six More Weeks of Winter


Last month I linked to a Marc Lynch article about the rise of blogging within the Muslim Brotherhood. Now Lynch reports that this Islamist corner of the blogosphere may be collapsing:

In a controversial article published on al-Jazeera Talk (and, notably, not on his own blog or on an official MB website), Abd al-Monem Mahmoud ("Ana Ikhwan"), one of the leaders of the Brotherhood blogging movement, declared a mournful end to the Brotherhood blogging opening. The great mistake of the MB bloggers, Mahmoud concluded, was that they became identified with a specific ideological and political trend—which made it too easy for them to be portrayed by internal and external critics as a "faction." Blogging was supposed to be a personal thing, not a political trend, and its growth into a movement doomed the experiment. Leaders were particularly concerned about the trend since it came a time when the Brotherhood faced a harsh regime crackdown; the airing of internal disagreements helped the organization's enemies and weakened its public image. A number of senior leaders rebuked the blogging Brothers, both publicly and privately, urging them to come to their elders to discuss their concerns rather than just posting them online for all to see. Finally, argues Mahmoud, the recklessness of a few of the youth (especially the "Islam Offline" episode, where some young bloggers posted a parody site of the official Brotherhood website in protest over its editorial decisions) triggered a harsh backlash throughout the senior ranks. The organization's leaders, he hints, decided that the time had come for discipline to replace openness—while the greatest pressure, I hear, actually came from the more radical and salafi youth who vehemently opposed the relatively liberal trend embodied in the blogging experiment.