Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Muslim brotherhood is about to launch its own Facebook, to spread awareness of “moderate Islamic values”. It will be the only way that ‘brothers’ can communicate in a country where the Society of Muslim Brothers is banned. But the media wants us to ask - what will they be communicating? And for an organisation known for radicalism and violence, does a free and widespread forum pose any risks?
Ikhwanbook (the official name) identifies itself by defining Islamic values better than their competitor Facebook – “It has more reserved use of photographs, less intrusion in the personal lives of members, and a different attitude to homosexuality”.
However, the Brotherhood actively advocates suicide bombing on civilians to combat Zionism, and they have rumoured links with al-Qaeda. So, being cynical, Ikhwanbook has the potential to give fundamentalists another means of recruitment, especially in the Western world where radical clerics find it difficult to recruit – it is much easier on the internet.
Although this raises legitimate fears amongst the western media, the Muslim Brotherhood denounces labels like “fundamentalist” as the media pigeonholing them, and draw attention to their "15 Principles" for an Egyptian National Charter - including "freedom of personal conviction... opinion... forming political parties... public gatherings... free and fair elections..." Indeed, it may be that Ikhwanbook is just a way for Muslims to distance themselves from the “liberal attitudes and opinions” shared widely on Facebook, and stay connected in an environment where they feel more comfortable.
So, with the launch date set “at a later date” we just have to wait and see if the worries about the threat of Ikhwanbook are legitimate. But if Facebook doesn’t ban anti-Islam sites, can we legitimately ban a pro-Islam Facebook?