Western Islamist activists and organizations appeared not to notice the recent passing of Ahmed Ibrahim Munir Mustafa, better known as Ibrahim Munir, at his home in London on November 4.
Such silence is curious, given Munir's role as acting leader of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, his longstanding membership of the Brotherhood's Guidance Council, as well as his role as spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood in the West.
As a considerable number of books, papers and investigative reports have established, many of the leading Islamist groups in the West today were established by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the United States, these include organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Student Association, among others.
One would have thought, then, that such groups and their officials would now be expressing grief, publishing obituaries, organizing funeral prayers, discussing the effect of his death on the future of the Muslim Brotherhood, or otherwise somehow marking the occasion.
No such sorrow. Although Munir's death generated enormous coverage in the Arab world, when FWI searched the social media accounts of over 2000 Islamist groups and activists active in North America and Europe, only a few mentions of Ibrahim Munir (also spelled Mounir) turned up – and not from the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups mentioned above.
One, an outlet linked to Hamas networks in the United Kingdom, Middle East Monitor, spared just a few paragraphs to report that "Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas mourns the death of Ibrahim Munir, former acting leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who died in London on Friday, aged 85." A Qatari-backed outlet, the Middle East Eye, also carried a mention of Munir's death.
Coverage also was found in Islam21c, an unapologetically radical outlet run by the Salafi cleric Sheikh Hatiham Al-Haddad. Despite Islam21c's differing ideological background, the outlet praised Munir's life as one "dedicated to the cause of Islam," and quoted Sheikh Haddad describing Munir as a "great leader" and his passing as a "great loss."
But that was it.
Munir was an important man. What explains this lackluster response?
As FWI has examined in some detail over the past year, many Islamist groups – especially those with Muslim Brotherhood roots – have embraced progressivism and other ideologies so tightly that fellow Islamists from other networks have accused such organizations of betraying their roots, and even diluting or ignoring fundamental Islamic principles.
Increasingly, perhaps, many groups established by the Muslim Brotherhood may no longer think of themselves as part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
And there may not be much left of the Brotherhood of which to be part. Anaylsts of the Middle East have mused repeatedly in recent years over the apparent decline of the movement. Citing its various branches' collapse in various North African countries, its suppression in autocratic Gulf states, and the growing obscurity of its ideas elsewhere, experts frequently refer to the Brotherhood's "decline," self-destructive "marginalisation and factionalism," "tarnished reputation" and "downfall."
The same may well be true in the West. Replaced by rival Islamist networks, such as a new generation of Salafis, the legacy of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West is now not one of clever infiltration and growing influence, but of ideological disintegration and fast-growing irrelevance.
Sam Westrop is the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.