The Closed Circle

Joining and Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

Lorenzo Vidino

Columbia University Press

The Closed Circle

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231193672

296 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231193665

296 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231550444

296 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

The Closed Circle

Joining and Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

Lorenzo Vidino

Columbia University Press

The Muslim Brotherhood in the West remains a mysterious entity. In The Closed Circle, Lorenzo Vidino offers an unprecedented inside view into how one of the world’s most influential Islamist groups operates. He marshals unique interviews with prominent former members and associates from Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America, shedding light on why and how people join and leave Western outfits of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Drawing on these striking personal accounts, Vidino weaves together the experiences of individuals who participated in and later renounced Brotherhood groups. Their perspectives provide a wealth of new information about the Brotherhood’s secretive inner workings and the networks that connecting the small yet highly organized cluster of Brotherhood-influenced groups. The Closed Circle examines the tactics the Brotherhood uses to recruit and retain participants as well as how and why individuals make the difficult decision to leave. Through the stories of diverse former members, Vidino paints a portrait of a highly structured, tight-knit movement. His unprecedented access and understanding of the group’s activities and motivations has significant policy implications concerning Western Brotherhood organizations and also illuminates the underlying mechanisms found in a range of extremist groups.
Lorenzo Vidino is a distinguished scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood. In The Closed Circle, he provides the invaluable service of letting those who have left the movement speak for themselves. What they say should enlighten and alarm anyone who thinks the Brotherhood is moderate, a firewall against extremism, or genuinely committed to democratic pluralism. Policy makers need to read it—and then read it again.
Vidino's interviews reveal a patient organization that markets itself as moderate but sometimes acts like a sinister and dangerous cult. The Brotherhood requires subtle analysis, and Vidino provides just that—neither overstating its threat nor accepting its claims to be a benign fraternal order. An essential contribution to our understanding of Islamism in the West.
This book is the first of its kind. Well-conceived and highly original, The Closed Circle provides a new analytical framework for thinking about and conceptualizing the reasons for why people have chosen to leave the Muslim Brotherhood.
Few are as qualified as Lorenzo Vidino to unpack the Muslim Brotherhood in the West. In The Closed Circle, he takes us into the life stories of actual members, their trajectories within the organization, and provides unique insights into the mechanisms of joining and leaving this secretive Islamist organization. It is absolutely essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the complexities of the largest Islamist movement in the West, where it is heading, and the major challenges ahead for Western liberal democracies.
A meticulously researched and elegantly written book that goes behind the smoke screen to offer unique insights into an extraordinarily complex and deliberately elusive organization through carefully assembled vignettes of a heterogeneous group of members who journeyed from wide-eyed attraction to wistful disillusionment with the Brotherhood.
Lorenzo Vidino is one of the leading experts on the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, and this latest volume is an important addition to the academic literature on the character and evolution of the Brotherhood, especially outside the Middle East—a subject of enduring significance for academic and policy-making communities.
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
1. What Is the Muslim Brotherhood in the West?
2. Joining and Leaving the Brotherhood
3. Kamal Helbawy
4. Ahmed Akkari
5. Pierre Durrani
6. Mohamed Louizi
7. Omero Marongiu
8. Pernilla Ouis
9. The American Brothers
10. Joining and Leaving: What the Evidence Suggests
11. The Western Brotherhood’s Future: From the Arab Spring and Beyond
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Lorenzo Vidino is director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He is the author of The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West (Columbia, 2010).