Watch: Nusra Front leader admits ideological links to Muslim Brotherhood in Al Jazeera interview

The file photo shows the al-Nusra Front terrorists riding a captured tank near Idlib, northwestern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 05 July 2017

Watch: Nusra Front leader admits ideological links to Muslim Brotherhood in Al Jazeera interview

JEDDAH: The leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front admitted ideological links with the Muslim Brotherhood in an interview with Qatari state-funded Al Jazeera news channel.
Abu Mohammad Al-Julani said that while the militant group differed greatly from the Muslim Brotherhood, the two organizations shared the same ideology.
“Al-Qaeda’s ideology is derived from the Holy Qu’ran, Sunnah and Prophet Muhammad successors’ teachings,” Al-Julani said.
He said of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Sayyid Qutb: “He (Qutb) derived his ideology from the same source that we derived ours from.”
But he added: “Although this may be similar to many factions, Al-Qaeda has been interested in practical and serious views: jihad.”
Al-Nusra Front — also known by their Arabic name Jabhat Al-Nusra — is Al-Qaeda’s formal affiliate in Syria and one of the most powerful rebel groups fighting the Assad regime.
He later revealed in the interview that Al-Qaeda not only adopted the same ideological approach, but also shared the same educational teachings as the Muslim Brotherhood.
He explained that books by Qutb were used in the teachings at Al-Qaeda’s mujahedeen preparation centers, where the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is described as a jihadi movement. “We must study all the jihadist movements in the arena,” Al-Julani said.
The Islamic scholar Hassan Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, and Qutb later shaped it.
Saudi Arabia formally designated the group as a terrorist organization in 2014.
In 2016, the Al-Nusra Front announced in a video that the group was breaking its links with Al-Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham — the front of the liberation of Al-Sham, the historical Arabic name for the Levantine region.
“We declare the complete cancelation of all operations under the name of Jabhat Al-Nusra and the formation of a new group operating under the name ‘Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham,’ noting that this new organization has no affiliation to any external entity.”

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 21 July 2019

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”