Why can’t Jordan’s Islamists calm down?

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is seemingly detached from reality, still showing an overconfident approach as if nothing happened in Egypt.

Despite the failure, or actually the collapse of the Brotherhood ruling style in Egypt, Jordanian Islamists are still pressing for the same rhetorical demands again, vowing to take to the street already weary and annoyed of their paradoxical discourse and totalitarian attitude.

Instead of admitting mistakes or entering a thorough revision of policies, Jordan’s Islamists, especially their outspoken and hardline leaders – the “Hawks” as called in Jordan – have been advocating the same discourse marked with redundancy, self-denial and detachment from reality.

Despite the new uprising that erupted in Egypt which brought about the downfall of the Islamist-oriented Muhammad Mursi, the now-deposed president of Egypt, and the Brotherhood rule, Jordanian Islamists have been raising annoying remarks, indicating that the group is suffering from a state of confusion, retreat and perplexity if not “political bankruptcy.”

Expecting sympathy?

If not so, then how it could be reasonable that they still expect more sympathy for their group when the popularity of the Brotherhood in the entire Arab world is reaching a single-digit level?

In recent remarks to local press, Secretary General of Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, was quoted as expecting more sympathy to his movement, following Mursi’s ousting.

“What happened in Egypt will make the public more sympathetic with the movement and we will gain more support … these incidents will strengthen the Brotherhood.”

Zaki Bani Rsheid

The paradoxical discourse of Jordanian Brotherhood was also manifested in the remarks of its deputy overall leader, Zaki Bani Rsheid, who has also been quoted as reportedly talking about a “conspiracy against Mursi and the MB of Egypt,” describing the president’s opponents as “worse than the regime of ousted Hosni Mubarak.”

One major aspect that the Jordanian Islamists and all Islamists worldwide are required to reconsider is their long-raised slogan, “Islam is the solution.”

Raed Omari

Bani Rsheid was also reported as calling on Mursi’s supporters and opponents to resort to dialogue to solve a crisis. His group has always rejected dialogue with Jordanian consecutive governments, insisting instead on taking to the street.

Not only that, the outspoken leader was also reported as calling on Mursi’s supporters to form a free army like that of Syria’s, to restore legitimacy.

Probably aware of the serious consequences of such a call, Bani Rsheid has apologized for such hasty remarks just the other day.

Now there is a new political system in Egypt and a new president and when there is planning underway for a counter uprising against Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party by the Tunisian people, Jordan’s Islamists are calling for mass rallies and what they termed as “pro-reform,” in the form of nationwide demonstrations.

So much related to the scene and to the decreasing popularity of the Brotherhood is the armed confrontation between the moderate Syrian Free Army, the extremist Jabhat al-Nusr, as well as the protests in Turkey.

“Conspiracy theory”

What actually makes the discourse of Jordan’s Brotherhood unconvincing - actually pathetic - is that they are haunted by the “conspiracy theory,” still unable to admit the reality that it was the people of Egypt who unseated Mursi and it will be the Tunisians who will remove the al-Nahda party from power as a result of the Brotherhood’s totalitarianism and exclusivism and not “imperial powers” as expressed in their nowadays rhetoric.

Many in Jordan, including myself, have been baffled and shocked by the Islamists’ arrogant attitude and their very strange reaction to what happened and is happening in Egypt. It was expected from the kingdom’s largest opposition force and its oldest political party to show reason and restraint, admitting mistakes by their Egyptian “brothers” or at least saying that Jordan is a different story. They failed to show either.

Jordan’s Islamists, who have been long thought of as being “wise” and who have been growing “pragmatic” following the Arab Spring uprisings, nowadays rely on sentiments at the expense of facts.

“How do these people think? How come they say such things? Are they detached from reality? Are they going mad? Don’t they learn lessons? Do they lack wisdom? Do they think they can make a win in the conservative Jordan following their brothers’ loss in Egypt?” These are some of the questions many Jordanians raise nowadays when trying to analyze the Islamists’ attitude and their unheard calls.

Stereotypes of the Brotherhood

In raising such illogical remarks in the security-concerned Jordan, the Islamists have failed again to change the stereotypical image of them as linked with foreign agenda and receiving orders from abroad.

For many ordinary Jordanians and even pundits, Jordan’s Islamists have received orders from their overall leaders in Egypt and from the Muslim Brotherhood International Organization to escalate in an attempt to bring the Egyptian unrest to the kingdom and ultimately expand the struggle to press for more concessions, knowing the West’s sensitivity over the region’s security and stability.

For some reason, it probably has to do with their linkage to external agenda. Jordanian Islamists are still unwilling to admit the distinctiveness of the kingdom in which the conservatives undoubtedly have the upper hand over all the state’s affairs.

Strangely enough, Jordanian Islamists, who have always been given special care by the state, to the point in which their rival leftists once labeled them as “spoiled children” allied to the government, have never shown understanding to the fact that the limited-resource Jordan will never sacrifice its strategic relationships with the U.S. and the Gulf states, mainly Saudi Arabia, to please or make compromises with them.

In order not to be forgotten and have the same fate of the Egyptian Brotherhood, Jordan’s Islamists are required to revisit their policies and adopt a new approach to deal with authorities and new regional developments, or as put by a renowned Jordanian expert in Islamist movements, “to re-invent themselves,” because otherwise they will see themselves neglected and again in a prolonged state of hibernation.

One major aspect that the Jordanian Islamists and all Islamists worldwide are required to reconsider is their long-raised slogan, “Islam is the solution.” They need to give up their ideological approach and stop presenting themselves as the embodiment of Islam.

If they are the only representatives of faith as they claim, then are other political forces otherwise? Actually, are we otherwise?


Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.