For decades, whenever there’s unrest in the region, particularly in neighboring countries, Jordan’s political behavior has been to be flexible and communicate with the Jordanian Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, because it is a political component that is considered one of Jordan’s safety valves.
Today a question is being posed: Has this behavior changed even though the unrest near Jordan, in Iraq and Syria, is at its highest, especially after the growing influence and threat of the terrorist organization called the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham)?
This question came after the Jordanian government boycotted the fourth general conference of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan’s Brotherhood, and after the government prevented any public or private hall in the kingdom from hosting the conference, forcing the organizers to hold it in a tent a few days ago.
The government’s action sent a “strong” message that betting on the Brotherhood’s “moderation” in the face of extremists, jihadists, and those who use armed violence, has undergone a “modification.” The Jordanian government’s decades-old view that the Brotherhood is moderate has somewhat changed after the so-called Arab Spring.
The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood made a mistake by trying to draw strength from the Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt and Mohammed Morsi becoming president. Senior Brotherhood leaders in Jordan declared that change was on the way to Jordan and that an “Islamic state” would soon be established.
Jordanian authorities didn’t forget or forgive the Brotherhood for that. The Brotherhood made no organizational or intellectual revision that suggested that it had “changed” or learned from the Brotherhood’s problems in Egypt, Libya, the Gulf states and others.
Brotherhood members kept repeating that the alternatives to the Muslim Brotherhood were violent, extremist and armed organizations, and didn’t consider that they needed to do much more now than before the Arab Spring, especially since Jordan’s allies in the region classified the Brotherhood in their own countries as a group that was banned and terroristic.
Jordan is being pressured by its allies because it insists that Jordan’s Brotherhood is “moderate,” “different,” and “part of the political spectrum, just like the many other political forces in Jordan,” as Jordan’s King Abdullah II said a few months ago in an interview with Al-Hayat.
The question of who would fill the “vacuum” left by the Brotherhood should be posed in a different and new Arab context, a context that the Brotherhood in Egypt tested. Some in Egypt’s Brotherhood put their organization above their country, acted despotically, claimed a monopoly of religious truth and showed a penchant for more Brotherhood “empowerment” instead of focusing on involving others in managing the country and in creating a pluralistic national climate that was safe and stable.
The new context has also raised several questions about the religious phenomenon. After the last four years and their momentous events, a real vision of “religious moderation” should emerge, one that recognizes that life evolves and develops, which doesn’t confuse religion with religiosity or religious heritage with the spirit of religion and its eternal principles.
We need a religious moderation that views the people as equals, that doesn’t classify people on the basis of religion, but on the basis of their commitment to the law and the constitution, and on the basis of their humanity, modernization, affection, solidarity and seriousness in working and serving their communities, and not harming others.
This goodness and charity is the backbone of religions. The backbone of religion is not to have the “brotherhood” among Muslims take precedence over citizenship. Moderation is mainly needed in politics, so that the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood becomes a national, pluralistic party, not a branch of an international organization.
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