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Can Recantations Prevent Radicalisation?

04/10/2010

One of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s violent incarnations, Gama`a Islamiya, assassinated Egyptian government officials in the early 1990s and killed over 75 tourists in the late 1990s. In 2003, many imprisoned adherents renounced violence through volumes of literature—and the government subsequently released approximately a thousand members.

Gama`a Islamiya has since published some of their literature—in the form or short essays with contemporary Islamist hooks—in English at egyig.com/en/.

However, the English translations are so poor (revealing sophomoric translation tradecraft or too much reliance on rigid computer translation software) that the writings verge on unintelligible.

Furthermore, according to a site analysis, there are few online visitors outside of Egypt, indicating a weak or ill-informed marketing effort.

By translating these texts into English and providing them on an open easily-accessible website, Gama`a Islamiya (or government sponsors) appear to want to spread its message beyond Egyptian and Arab borders. And its message appears universal (applicable from Manila to Port of Spain), practical, and emotive. Gama`a Islamiya’s website has potential to inform grassroots radicalisation prevention efforts, but the site would be wise to live up to the standards of al-Qaeda translation and marketing acumen to reach any audience.

Gama`a Islamiya’s recantation touches on the following subjects:

1) It is impractical to attack a stronger security force—when defeat is inevitable. A group’s goals must be achievable. Never rely on miracles.

2) Violence will eventually isolate extremist groups from populations, while peaceful Islamist movements at least have a chance to sway governments.

3) The priority for any movement should be the wellbeing of society over the wellbeing of any one organisation.

4) All human life is valuable.

5) All Muslims must respect the laws of protection over non-Muslim foreigners and other protected persons.

6) Takfir is impermissible against institutions—which, by definition, cannot be put into a category of belief or unbelief.

7) Killing someone for his or her nationality is impermissible

8) The Quran forbids collective punishment.

9) Jihad is not a goal but a means to an end to protect Islam and territories of Islam. If the effort will not reach this aim, the struggle is unworthy.

10) Muslims who wage jihad for vengeance or valour are sinning.