Islamism and violence: The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the years preceding the 1982 Hama massacre

Stream: Panel 32 - International Relations: Syria
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm

Abstract

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has a longstanding reputation as a violent social movement, particularly in relation to the February 1982 Hama uprising. Yet the group’s position on violence remains disputed, with the group’s critics arguing that the Brothers were always predisposed to violence, while the group’s leaders maintain that they played no role in the violent events that took place in Syria in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although these debates were once condemned to the annals of history, they have been quickly revived in light of the Brotherhood’s political revival in the current Syrian uprising. This paper explores the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with violence, noting that while the group’s official ideologies and most of its senior members demonstrated little appetite for violence, the position was significantly more blurred among a handful of senior figures and rank-and-file members. Based on primary research, including the memoirs of senior figures and interviews undertaken with Brotherhood members and Syrian opposition actors across Europe and Turkey in 2015, the paper argues that the confluence of political events and membership changes saw certain segments of the Brotherhood adopt violent methods, even though official platforms never wavered. Although some of this way beyond the control of the group’s leadership, the paper contends that the group’s leaders have a murkier relationship to violence than is officially acknowledged.

Author

Dara Conduit (Presenter), Monash University
Dara Conduit is a Ph.D candidate at Monash University working on the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. She works as a researcher at the Middle East Studies Forum, co-convenes the Australian Terrorism & Political Violence Research Network and has provided advice to the UNOHCHR’s Working Group on Mercenaries. Ms Conduit co-edited Iran in the World: President Rouhani’s Foreign Policy (Palgrave Macmillan) and has been published in the British Journal of Middle East Studies, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism and the Middle East Journal. She holds a M.Litt from the University of St. Andrews and was a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge in 2015.