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Blogging Brothers

Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark on the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood bloggers:

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.

This is obviously disappointing news, although it's promising nonetheless to see such transparency issues being debated within one of the largest Islamic political movements in the world. This poses a challenge for future bloggers, one would think, since the nature of the medium has always tended towards organization and scrutiny. It is often an inherently reactive medium, and it'll be interesting to see if the Brotherhood opens that window ever again.

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