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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Diffusion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Online Mobilisation Tactics

Emin Poljarevic
European University Institute
Emin Poljarevic
European University Institute

The paper covers the changing trajectory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s mobilization strategies in the pre-revolutionary Egypt. The shifting mobilization trajectory has primarily manifested through young activists’ online mobilization. The paper makes a case where I link these changes of Islamist mobilization to the mass-revolt between January 25th and February 11th 2011. I analyse the pragmatic nature of Islamist mobilization tactics by focusing on their “virtual” responses to increasing state repression starting in 2005. The change had a massive impact on the widespread mobilization of the non-activist urban middle-class youths’ support for a popular uprising against the authoritarian regime. Various preliminary analyses of the events limit their examination to immediate economic and political grievances, which is unsatisfactory. I attempt to broaden some of these analyses by including this important element of the popular uprising. The creative mobilization shift among the Islamist youth diffused to other, but related, social groups in Egypt, which became increasingly creative in facilitating new forms of protest tactics well before the revolution. Reasons that drove this innovative form of protest forward are many, however, one of the most important causes is increased state repression in form of harsher treatment of youth activist. Here I include the new regime policy of exclusion of Islamists from any form of political participation (e.g. staging the 2007 constitutional amendments specifically targeting the MB). As a result, the regime’s more erratic and exclusivist repression policies had supported development of online activism among the youth cohort of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other non-activist young people. The diffusion effect I examine in this paper deals primarily with protest tactics and not with ideological diffusion in any real meaning.
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