The Islamic movements in many countries have suffered persecution since the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century. One of the most important aspects of this persecution by successive governments was the confiscation of their money, the disruption of their distinguished human cadres from giving and community service, and the confiscation of the charitable work that they provided to society.
However, what the Islamic movement witnessed, after the coups against the “Arab Spring” revolutions, exceeded all previous persecution. Because the Islamists this time are more numerous and more powerful in terms of economic constituents. This time, persecution was not limited to the confiscation of people's property, but extended to the wealth of civil society, such as charitable societies.
When we consider the damage done to Islamists and their property, we must remember that it was more harmful to the people; because these practices had a negative impact on the national economies of those countries in general. This has been evident over the last nine years, as evidenced by the following indicators:
Distorting and spoiling the investment climate
It is certain that political instability and security concerns are among the most significant factors that distort the investment climate This is what discourages foreign investments from operating in such settings. Additionally, the lack of the rule of law causes local investments to feel uneasy. Since the phenomena of religiosity permeate Arab and Islamic society, the arrests of Islamists or the confiscation of their businesses and funds sends a bad signal to local capitalists who worry that they will be treated suspiciously if they are associated with them.
On the other hand, practices on the ground reflect a state of ambiguity, especially since the easiest decisions taken by dictatorial governments are to seize funds and deprive their owners of them, and even assign the management of companies and institutions owned by Islamists to non-specialists who waste their money and lead them to loss or bankruptcy.
As a result, countries, where Islamists were excluded and persecuted, did not achieve any economic success, whether in terms of production or services. Instead, they saw debt increase, a rise in economic dependence, and higher rates of poverty and unemployment (Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, examples).
Increased rates of emigration
The security hegemony of most countries in the Middle East has forced many scientific and business professionals to emigrate. This is evidenced by the displacement and migration data. The region witnessed the largest outward migration in its history, from all countries, especially those that involved in armed operations.
According to the report “The State of International Migration in the Arab Region for the year 2021” issued by one of the institutions of the International Organization for Migration, the number of refugees coming from Arab countries is estimated at 43% of the total refugees covered by the mandate of the UNHCR. Thus, their number is about 8.9 million refugees out of a total of 20.7 million refugees worldwide.
This time, regular immigration was characterized by its absorption of distinguished professional cadres, including doctors, engineers, and all specializations, as well as those with expertise in human studies (particularly Islamists). The best evidence for this is that public hospitals in a country like Egypt, for example, suffer from a shortage of doctors and nursing staff, due to emigration abroad. The rest of the countries also suffer from a shortage of teachers, engineers, and all professionals who provide their services to societies on a daily basis.
The poor were harmed by the confiscation of charities
Islamists have long cared about charitable work, and turned it into institutional work in the areas of medical care, caring for poor families by providing aid, providing training and rehabilitation centers, and providing educational services to the children of those families. However, the regimes that turned against the revolutions of the “Arab Spring” tended to control these associations, changed their boards of directors, took control of their resources, and handed them over to the retired members of the military and security institutions to manage them.
The veterans' lack of prior expertise in this task among the new administrations, has weakened these organizations.
On the other hand, these associations lost the trust of donors and were deprived of the flow of donations, due to the absence of Islamist supervisors whom people trust. The most affected were the poor who lacked the social protection that these associations provided.
It is worth noting that the charities that were supervised by Islamists in all countries of the region benefited from donations from abroad, whether from Arab countries or from members of Islamic communities in many countries of the world. Thus, these associations were deprived of these important tributaries.
Waste of human resources
One of the most important possessions of peoples is their human wealth. The human being is the basis of development, as he is the creator and beneficiary of it. Therefore, developed countries are very interested in investing in their people through quality education and health care services. However, one of the most important things that the people of the Middle East have lost is that thousands of members of the Islamic movement have been arrested and imprisoned.
Prisons and detention centers include Islamists from all academic and professional disciplines, including university students, even university professors and college deans, and qualified specialists in various professional disciplines needed by the development process. Unfortunately, however, they are thrown into the dungeons of prisons, without relying on the law. Rather, they are tortured, and unjust sentences are issued against them for long periods, which perish the rest of their lives between the walls of the cells.
The spread of the black economy
In the absence of Islamists, negative values were promoted, in an attempt to consolidate the ethics of laxity and chaos, promote a culture of underestimating the violation of sanctities, and carry out all economic practices that violate the law. Hence, the people in the countries of the region were affected, as drug abuse and trade became widespread, and schools turned into hotbeds for practising many behaviors that contradict customs and traditions.
Undoubtedly, the spread of the black economy (drug trade, prostitution, arms trade, organ trade, and illegal immigration) is one of the most important things that spread insecurity among people, and squander the incomes of individuals and families in order to preserve themselves.
As a result, many people want to emigrate to safer societies or wish for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, allowing Islamists to resume their activities and play their roles, which served as a safety and security valve for societies.
*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Al-Mujtamaa Magazine