The people of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, who gave the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to rule, discovered that the organization is as corrupt and incompetent as the secular Arab regimes and heads of state. This month, Morocco's governing Islamist Development and Justice Party suffered a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections. Pictured: A woman casts her ballot during Morocco's elections, in Rabat on September 8, 2021. (Photo by Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)
Since its establishment in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood's main motto has been "Islam is the solution" (to all problems). The organization's followers have used this slogan over the past decade to rise to power in a number of countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan.
The past few weeks, however, have shown that many Arabs and Muslims no longer believe in the Muslim Brotherhood's ability to govern or in the claim that "Islam is the solution."
As Moroccan writer Saeed Nashed said, "The Muslim Brotherhood took Morocco into a decade of darkness."
The people of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, who gave the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to rule, discovered that the organization is as corrupt and incompetent as the secular Arab regimes and heads of state.
In the past two months, the Muslim Brotherhood suffered two major setbacks, first in Tunisia, and more recently, in Morocco.
The ouster of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance) Party from power in July was welcomed not only by Tunisians, but by many other Arabs who accused the Islamists, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, of spreading chaos and instability in the Arab world.
This month, Morocco's governing Islamist Development and Justice Party (PJD) suffered a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections. The PJD, which had been a coalition partner in the previous two governments, won only 12 seats of the 395-seat parliament. For the Islamists, this was a humiliating defeat because the number of their seats dropped from 125 to 12.
As with the Islamists in Tunisia, many Arabs are now also celebrating the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party in Morocco. The Arabs are saying that the Islamists have brought nothing but corruption and misery on the countries they ruled. The Arabs are also saying that they have learned the lesson and will not trust the Islamists and their "empty slogans" anymore.
The scale of this defeat shows that the Islamists who ruled after the "Arab Spring" period have failed: they have nothing to offer but slogans and religious statements.
Sami Brahem, a Tunisian Islamic researcher, commented that the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated parties failed to produce programs and visions to their people. "They failed on all levels," Brahem said. "This is also a political and moral failure. They associated themselves with corrupt parties."
Lebanese political analyst Hoda Rizk pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood tried to prove to the decision-makers in Washington that it alone, as a moderate political organization, is able to deal in the world of politics with pragmatism and effectiveness.
"They knew that Washington was more concerned with the security issue than with democracy in the Arab countries, especially during the rule of President Obama," Rizk said. She added that the Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco showed a lot of pragmatism and flexibility, which helped them become a more integrated component of the political systems in their countries.
"Has the era of political Islam ended in Arab countries 10 years after the Arab Spring?" she asked. "Undoubtedly, the reasons that led to the failure were due to inertia and a real unwillingness to take over power."
Amr Al-Shobaki, a researcher at the Egyptian Al-Ahram Center for Studies, believes that it is not possible to put all the experiences of political Islam in one basket, even if there are common denominators for the failure of their experience in the Arab countries.
Al-Shobaki told Al-Hurra TV that one of the main reasons for the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood is related to the ideological component of the organization's groups, including lack of separation between religion and politics, their alleged monopoly over the absolute truth, and their claim to represent the true Islam.
Al-Shobaki said that the Arabs "rejected the idea of guardianship over them in the name of religion, and they began to distinguish between the sacred religion and the programs of political parties and their ability to achieve their interests."
According to the Egyptian researcher, one of the reasons for the failure of the Islamists was that, in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, they were telling people that they had tried the socialist and capitalist system, and now it was time to implement the Islamic project to solve all problems.
"After 10 years, however, the [Islamic] project failed and they did not succeed in solving people's economic and social problems," Al-Shobaki added.
Marwan Shehadeh, a Jordanian expert in the affairs of Islamic groups, was quoted by Al-Hurra TV as saying that the reason for the failure of the Islamists is lack of political experience and failure to transform themselves from the opposition to government.
Shehadeh said that another reason why the Islamists failed was because they adopted the same policies and tactics of the governments and regimes they replaced.
"The [Islamist] groups and parties were infected with the diseases that other parties suffered from, especially corruption... They failed to manage the affairs of their countries or solve problems or provide the people with what they are entitled to. Moreover, they did not prepare cadres suitable for the work of the state."
Amin Sossi Alawi, a Moroccan researcher in geopolitical issues, described the defeat of the Islamists in Morocco as "an earthquake that will break the back of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Islamic world."
The Moroccans' experience with the Islamists over the past decade, he said, finally enabled them "to discover the falseness of the populist slogans that the Justice and Development Party exploited to infiltrate the government."
Libyan writer Milad Omer Mezoghi wrote that while Arabs who voted in the past for the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated parties may have made a mistake, "they know how to punish those who disappointed them."
"The Muslim Brotherhood in North Africa did not take care of their people. They carried out the most heinous acts, linked the fate of their people to Turkey, imported everything from it in order to revive its (Turkey's) economy, and as a result emptied the coffers of their countries and impoverished their people, leading to a surge in unemployment and crime... The people sometimes make mistakes in their choices due to the lack of clarity of vision, and the candidates providing false information, but they will certainly correct their mistake at the first opportunity. The Moroccan parliamentary elections frankly expressed that the Moroccan public had given up on the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is a wicked plant that has been eaten by smut."
Saudi writer and political analyst Fahd Al-Shoqiran said that the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco is attributed to "the outrageous spread of corruption, which sparked popular anger."
He pointed out that many voters in Morocco see the Muslim Brotherhood as an opportunist organization that carries many empty slogans in order to benefit from the government as quickly as possible.
"This was evident in the massive level of corruption, the failure to combat unemployment, and the lack of a strategy to fight poverty. It is well-known that the Muslim Brotherhood organization succeeds when it's in the opposition, but always fails in government. They are good in destroying, but they fail in building."
Noting that Islamists have failed in a number of Arab countries, the writer warned that if Muslims to do not learn from the "deadly experiences" of the Muslim Brotherhood, the experience of failure will be repeated every few decades.
"After a decade of the rule of the Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco, the Muslim Brotherhood only contributed to the spread of corruption, disregard for the state and its institutions, and the theft of people's lives and money."
Nadim Koteish, a prominent Lebanese writer and media personality, said that the Islamists of Morocco were harshly punished after spending 10 years in government without producing good things for their people.
"Moroccans voted for achievement, not for rhetoric," he wrote. "The recent elections in Morocco provide an opportunity for this country to rid itself of Islamist extortion."
Palestinian newspaper editor and columnist Hafez Barghouti also weighed in on the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco.
"The Muslim Brotherhood parties have always claimed that they did not have the opportunity to rule in order to implement their programs. But they took over the government in Morocco for ten years and did not make any achievements for the Moroccans, who were only deceived by the religious slogans."
According to Barghouti, "experience proves that the Muslim Brotherhood parties are skilled in demolishing, not building, and the evidence is that they rule without providing those they govern with any services other than illusory victories and corruption."
The Palestinian writer said that Tunisia got rid of the Islamists because they destroyed the economy and "stole the people's money." In Morocco, he added, the Muslim Brotherhood was in power for many years, plunging the country into an economic and social crisis.
The Islamist parties, Barghouti wrote, think that their rule is just as long as they raise religious slogans. "But they focus on their partisan interests first, and serve their supporters only," he said. "This is the reason for the rapid downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group without a history of building and tolerance."
Mounir Adib, an Egyptian expert on Islamic groups, said that the fall of the Islamists in Morocco is a reflection of the organization's collapse in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries.
"This downfall is not political, but rather the collapse of the ideology of the group, which has become undesirable in Arab countries. The great fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, politically and intellectually, began in Egypt, then Sudan followed Tunisia and finally Morocco. Due to their spectacular failure in those countries, they are expected to fall also in Libya during the upcoming legislative and presidential elections."
The downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in a number of Arab countries does not mean that the organization is likely to disappear anytime soon. Nonetheless, the Arabs in these countries are saying that they have had enough of the Islamists, who have proven that they are incapable of looking after the interests of their people. The question, therefore, remains: Will Western apologists for Islamists also wake up to this fact and cease dealing with them as though they are good guys who seek to improve the living conditions of Arabs and Muslims?
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.