Tariq Al Naimat is a Jordanian journalist and researcher specializing in Islamist movements.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has long been a source of inspiration for its Jordanian counterpart, making the death of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi an emotional blow to the Jordanian Brotherhood.
The short-lived Brotherhood experiment in Egypt had major repercussions for the Jordanian Brotherhood. With the coup in Egypt in 2013, the Jordanian Brotherhood was wracked by internal arguments over which political course to follow, as the early hopes of the Arab Spring were crushed. Several moderate leaders who would later break off to create the Zamzam party were quick to point to Egypt’s coup as a turning point with valuable lessons which the Brotherhood needed to learn.
The initial reaction to Morsi’s death among the Brotherhood ranks in Jordan was to see the event as another sacrifice by a Brotherhood leader. The heavy political toll paid by Brotherhood leaders over the past 80 years has long been part of the Brotherhood’s internal rhetoric on the importance of self-sacrifice while spreading its message. The names and pictures of figures like Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Ahmed Yassin, Abdul-Aziz al-Rantissi, Abdullah Azzam, and now Mohammed Morsi have always been prominent in Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, not only as founding fathers or leading theorists, but also for the price which they paid for their ideas, from the Brotherhood’s point of view.
The sympathy with which the Jordanian public met news of Morsi’s death could give the Brotherhood a bump in popularity, particularly at a time when the Brotherhood is already under attack by several Arab governments.
However, it seems unlikely that Morsi’s death will have wider repercussions other than immortalizing his name in Brotherhood lore and reemphasizing the focus on self-sacrifice. The Brotherhood’s historical course does not give much reason to believe that the group is successfully learning from its own political mistakes, as it has devoted little attention to studying its own historical experience.
After the founding of the Zamzam Party in 2016 and the Partnership and Rescue Party the same year, the Brotherhood’s drive to ideologically diversify lost momentum and its internal debates quieted down. Morsi’s death is unlikely to push the Jordanian Brotherhood to make deeper self-revisions, especially as the Brotherhood’s mother organization in Egypt is fragmented, with its leaders either in prison or in exile. Nonetheless, there is a youth movement within the Brotherhood taking on a growing role, which gained political awareness by taking part in the popular protests calling for reform in Jordan, and which will be a force pushing for organizational reform and change.