On 10 February 2022, the European Commission, replying to a Parliamentary question, admitted to financing entities that can be traced back to the network of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). This was far from a first for the European Union (EU), which has a long record of support to MB-linked institutions.
As of late, however, the winds seem to have started changing. Since the beginning of the legislature in 2019, the European Parliament has grilled the Commission with dozens of questions on its support to the MB. At the national level, too, the MB product is starting to sell less well.
There is a wider recent tendency in Europe to recognize the dangers of non-violent Islamism: despite inconsistencies — it is not uncommon to see a state body or department cooperate with entities that another body or department warns against — many European countries have by now produced intelligence reports that unequivocally present the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots in the West as a threat to liberal democratic values.
So what about Italy? This report aims to explain the situation in a country that has been home to Islamist groups and movements since the 1970s, yet which seems to struggle to raise its national debate on the topic to the level of other countries where the issue is less pressing. There are some developments in the country, particularly the coming together of Sunni MB-related actors and representatives of the extremist Shia current known as Khomeinism, the state ideology of Iran, that are a cause for concern. The report looks at ways these emergent problems might be mitigated to ensure Italy’s status as a liberal democracy is not threatened.
European Eye on Radicalization aims to publish a diversity of perspectives and as such does not endorse the opinions expressed by contributors. The views expressed in this report represent the author alone.