What is behind the target of Islamic centers in the Arab world?

The Jordanian government’s target of the Association for the Preservation of the Holy Qur’an, by closing dozens of its affiliated centers, was not the first in the Arab world. Many Arab governments targeted Islamic centers and associations, especially after the Arab Spring revolutions.

Jordan’s closure of five Koran memorial centers and the arrest of 68 other centers for engaging in “Islamic activities,” according to official circulating books, are reminiscent of restrictions on Koran and Islamic institutions in the Arab world. in the northern West Bank), under the pretext. that the center published a photo of its students and teachers without the presence of a Palestinian Endowment official with them.

In Tunisia, for example, the government of Mehdi Jomaa froze more than 150 Islamic associations in 2014, claiming that they were merely suspected of being involved in financing terrorism.

In Egypt, parliament passed the “National Associations” Act in 2017, which led to the restriction of the work of some 47,000 local associations, especially those of an Islamic nature, according to human rights organizations.

This law was preceded by a judicial decision to ban any association that receives donations as one of its members to the Muslim Brotherhood, and was followed by a decision to freeze the funds of charities as a way to free up the resources of to dry up funding, according to the interpretation of the ruling.

In Mauritania, the first months of 2019 witnessed the closure of six Islamic associations by the authorities; He claims that it is linked to “extremism”, and this coincides with an official attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, at a time when the owners of these associations deny any connection to the group.

These and other events raise many questions about why the authorities in the Arab world target Korean and Islamic societies, and whether they stem from an internal will that views political or independent Islam as a threat to the survival of Arab regimes. consider, or represent, an implementation of the wishes of large Western countries that fear the expansion of Islam.

Filter the only competitor

Left-wing author and researcher Hisham Al-Bustani believes that the target of Islamic and Qur’anic centers “is mainly related to the Arab ruling groups’ efforts to establish the only real political organization in the region, which is the Muslim Brotherhood movement, or the political to dissolve and liquidate parties associated therewith or arising therefrom. “

He told “Arabi 21” that “after the popular uprisings in 2011, the Arab ruling groups found themselves ahead of almost a single competition of the Islamic movement, because it was historically the most organized and linked to the masses, to various reasons that are not the field of their research, and therefore they tried to break down the Islamic movement and fragment it into various movements, and it tried to take over its economic and social arms, including charities and Koran centers.

Al-Bustani ruled out the possibility of an external agenda to close Islamic and Quranic societies and centers, “The big countries today only care about Arab countries that pursue their interests and the interests of the Zionist entity, regardless of their human rights, socially or religious record. “

He added that “in light of the current major normalization project led by the United States in the region, any group that offers an interpretation of Islam that resists normalization, which is necessary to weaken and liquidate it,” and pointed out that “the Palestine file is one of the main issues that has changed the Islamic movement from a position of proximity to Authority to the position of the opposition, which has made the institutions affiliated with them the subject of target, restrictions and closures.

Saudi-Emirati role

Observers believe that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE play a role in restricting Islamic and Qur’anic institutions, because they have the wealth that enables them to influence and downplay the West’s vision in the region. To force, and to stop. any movement that opposes the existing Arab regimes on the other hand.

Al-Bustani pointed out that “the hostility towards political Islamic movements and their institutions intensifies when we mention the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Tunisia,” and stressed that “these countries are making a big mistake with their existential-liquidating hostility. towards Islamists, as they are an essential and authentic part of Arab societies. “

Al-Bustani said: “I have no information about an Emirati and Saudi role in pressuring Jordan and others to target Koran centers and Islamic societies, but Jordan has special relations with these two countries, and often goes to request financial assistance, and therefore this funding may be subject to issues related to this file. ” .

On the other hand, the expert in the affairs of Islamic groups, author Hassan Abu Haniyeh, confirmed the existence of a Saudi and Emirati role in the weakening and abolition of Islamic projects independent of the governing authorities, especially those who is linked to political Islam.

He told “Arabi 21” that the spearhead in the implementation of the Western will to thwart the movements of political Islam is Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because they possess money, wealth and power, and therefore these two countries have the led and financed counter-revolutions that abandoned the Arab peoples’ dream of dignity and freedom.

An internal tendency to “flatten” religiously.

In turn, a political sociologist, Philip Madanat, said that the target of Qur’anic societies “comes in the light of a continuing tendency among Arab countries to drive down all religious groups and institutions, Islamic and Christian, even official.” because they do not want any religious. actor to compete with them. “

He told Arabi21 the main reason for this authoritarian will is the poor performance of the state, and the decline in the popularity of successive governments and other components of power.

He denied that there were external precepts to close Islamic institutions, adding that what was happening was a process of preparation for the rising generation, to enter a coming era that included reconciliation with opposites, whether “Israel” or others .

In turn, the expert, Hassan Abu Haniyeh, said that the official religious institutions in the Arab world emerged after the colonial phase; With the aim of defining the form of religion, what is acceptable and what is not, in order to legitimize all actions of the political system, regardless of their form.

He continued: “These countries do not want anyone to challenge them in providing an interpretation of religion, therefore they control mosques and control them by laws, regulations and instructions that affect the determination of the sermons and lessons learned by the imam of the mosque is required so that a single narrative is presented, which is acceptable to the state, and does not pose an A challenge to existing authority.

A change in the American plan

Abu Haniyeh believed that the restriction on Koranic and Islamic societies stemmed from a Western will, as the United States of America changed its plan to introduce political Islam into the rule of the Arab world, to get rid of it.

He pointed out that the change in the American plan began after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and its characteristics became clear after the events of September 11 in New York, and inflated until it reached its climax after the Arab Spring. revolutions, which showed that strength of the Islamic tendency.

Abu Haniyeh explained that Arab governments used alliances with Islamic movements, whether political or advocate, to help them confront nationalist and leftist currents and others, but they abandoned this alliance after the Arab Spring revolutions and began to restructure the religious area away from these movements.

He stressed that the existing Arab states today were founded by the colonial states, and religious institutions were established in them, and therefore they are not far from colonialism, imperialism and the West, and are expected to submit to the prescriptions of great states, and to adapt their legislation to this cosmic system that dominates it, and with its vision of the existence and right of “Israel” and to integrate it as a normal state.

Abu Haniyeh explained the attack on the official religious institutions of political Islam groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and others, as the implementation of the will of the West as terrorist groups or a precursor of extremism, and therefore it is necessary to weaken or prohibit. completely.

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