All posts for the month May, 2015

Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have returned from exile in order to rebuild their movement in Syria that was crushed already more than 30 years ago. Also Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates classify the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Being a member is still punishable by death in Syria but those who return mainly settle in areas held by the Syrian opposition in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama. They claim to practice moderate Islam and distance themselves from radical Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq. Notwithstanding, the Brotherhood is believed to back rebel brigades such as Jaysh Al-Mujahideen.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was once the most successful opposition movement but since Islamist President Mohammed Mursi was overthrown in 2013 hundreds of its members have been killed or detained. In Syria it was a minor political actor before the 1963 coup by the secular nationalist Baath Party. The Brotherhood’s popularity grew under the rule of then-President Hafez Al-Assad, when the minority Alewite community dominated the Sunni Muslim majority. In 1982 security forces under Hafez Al-Assad demolished neighborhoods in the Northwest of Syria and killed thousands to put down a Brotherhood uprising. Today, the Syrian branch of the Brotherhood has no young generation and is not very popular. Syrians still remember the escape of the Brotherhood’s leadership in 1982 that left hundreds of its members to face execution.

Thus, the Brotherhood tries to create a new network and hopes that Saudi Arabia’s mistrust might ease under its new monarch, King Salman, who has called on Sunni Muslim nations to set aside differences over political Islam.


A Palestinian theatre group – funded by the EU and the British council – stages a play in the Palestinian territories that sympathetically portrays actions of Palestinian terrorists who killed Israeli citizens. Hence, Israel is concerned that this play promotes terrorism as legitimate.

The play called “The Siege” is about gunmen and bombers from Hamas and the Al Asqa Martyrs’ Brigade who, in 2002, took refuge inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. It tells the story of their stand-off against the Israeli military forces which lasted for 39 days. The situation was brought to an end through the finalization of a deal that granted 13 of the leaders safe passage and refuge in Europe.

The Arts Council England is investing £15,000 to enable the actors to stage their show on a tour across Great Britain. Starting from mid-Mai, the play will be presented in ten British cities over the next few months.

Yet the Freedom Theatre stages the production and cites “cultural resistance” against “occupation” as its mission. Zoe Lafferty, the play’s British co-director, characterizes the production as pro-human rights, pro-justice and pro-equality that thereby tries to counter propaganda. The Arts Council England has confirmed the £15,000 grant, arguing that it is not in a position to censor the artists’ message.