Lessons learnt? Stagnation vs adaptation
in Surviving repression
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Chapter 4 expands on the internal debates dividing the movement to focus on the ongoing polarisation around different responses to repression and on competing strategies to move past the current crisis. It shows that a significant novelty of the post-2013 context is represented by the fact that dissenting members, along with those who do not align with the Brotherhood’s official narrative, remain an active part of the movement. These behaviours were punished with expulsion prior to 2011, but the necessity to maintain unity and safety in numbers after the coup mean that the Brotherhood is characterised by an unprecedented diversity of voices and opinions. The chapter traces the development of two main trends to fight against repression: stagnation and adaptation strategies. It shows that the Historical Leadership takes a generally passive approach, treating the current crisis as yet another time of hardship and calling for unity in the face of oppression. This faction remains faithful to the Brotherhood’s historical strategies and refuses to answer the call for internal reforms that would allow the movement to better adapt to exile. On the contrary, the adaptation trend encompasses a wide diversity of voices and competing strategies that argue for a more proactive response to the current crisis. These are informed by the members’ increased agency and by the development of independent thinking against the Brotherhood’s official stance. By providing first-hand accounts of these strategies, the chapter outlines what the main future directions for the movement might be.

Surviving repression

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood after the 2013 coup

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