Mohammed bin Salman and Sururism

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

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During his milestone visit to the United States, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave a very important interview to Time magazine in which he described the followers of the Sururist Movement as “the most extreme” in the Middle East. He said they were “ahead a little bit within the Muslim Brotherhood,” adding “in our law they are criminals and whenever we have enough evidence against any one of them, they will face a court.”

This interview was part of a series of media appearances by the prince at a number of American media outlets, where he candidly discussed extremist groups and combating extremism. Talking about Sururism and its extensive threat comes within a very important context.

The new stance which Saudi Arabia and the UAE have adopted for years against these extremist groups has greatly evolved over the course of classifying these movements as terror groups, legally pursuing them and besieging the countries that support them

Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi

False dissociation

Sururism is a wide movement within what was known as the Islamic Awakening or ‘Sahwa’, and it is the most important ideological experiment that combines Salafism with the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sururism is attributed to Mohammed Surur Zine El Abidine, a Syrian national who became a dissident of the Muslim Brotherhood. Three others participated in this with him, Mohammed Qutb, Abdel Moneim Al-Azzi (also known as Mohammed Ahmed Al-Rashed) and Abdul Rahman Abdul Khaliq, but they failed, and he succeeded.

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I have previously written about this dangerous movement and conducted a research on the subject and published it in the first issue of the monthly Al Mesbar book in January 2007. I’ve also written plenty of articles on the matter. Other researchers have also discussed this topic. I will not repeat what’s been written then but I will quickly go over a few details.

Following in the tradition of lies and deceit of political Islam symbols, Mohammed Surur wrote in As-Sunnah Magazine (Issue Number 27, 1993), an article entitled Sururism, in which he refers to his earlier 10-year-long affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. He denied having anything to do with the name of the Sururist movement and repudiated it. He wrote: “What’s interesting is that some of my old friends, from the initial group, were the ones who invented this term which was taken on by their enemies.”

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He denied the existence of this organization saying: “I do not know of a group called Sururist, and I was never in charge of any group.” However, years later, Surur said quite the exact opposite.

In an interview with well-known Muslim Brotherhood member Azzam Tamimi in his show ‘Muraja’at’ (third episode) which was aired on Al-Hiwar television channel on March 24, 2008, he retracted from his earlier position and acknowledged the existence of a group and a movement saying: “This movement started in Saudi Arabia, and its affiliates are not of one nationality.” He added that it is “real” and that it is “an organization and a movement.”

Differences with Muslim Brotherhood

Sururism is one of the Brotherhood's products, but it is more extreme in its discourse and practices. It greatly profited from post 1979 circumstances so it spread with an unprecedented level of influence especially in Saudi Arabia.

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In another interview, Sa'ad Al-Faqih told Azzam Tamimi that the movement was established by Saudi figures and not by Mohammed Surur. Faqih, however, always interprets events according to what he believes while making statements, and not according to how they really happened.

The relation between Sururism and the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia was characterized by its fluctuation between joint work and inter-party rivalry. They released “joint statements” to voice opposing political stances but they disagreed over political interests, as in the case of the 2005 municipal elections.

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Considering the great resemblance between the two, there were great conflicts in the educational operation, charitable work as well as in the media. This is in addition to conflicts over acquisition of mosques and Qur’anic recitation sessions. Sururism and the Muslim Brotherhood are both dangerous, extremist takfirist groups that have the same aims as other terrorist and takfirist groups, such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Salafist jihadist movements.

However, they disagree with them over the “timing.” Finally, the new stance which Saudi Arabia and the UAE have adopted for years against these extremist groups has greatly evolved over the course of classifying these movements as terror groups, legally pursuing them and besieging the countries that support them.

The future points to even more measures to restrain them.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.

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