• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

World Comment On Introducing Muslim Brotherhood: The Re-Emergent Factor In Egypt?

Sep 20, 2004
The Muslim Brotherhood, or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, is Egypt’s oldest and largest Islamist organization.

Founded by Hassan al-Banna in the 1920s, the group has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.

The movement initially aimed simply to spread Islamic morals and good works, but soon became involved in politics, particularly the fight to rid Egypt of British colonial control and cleanse it of all Western influence.

Today, though officially banned and subject to frequent repression, the Ikhwan lead public opposition to the ruling National Democratic Party of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981.

While the Ikhwan say that they support democratic principles, one of their stated aims is to create a state ruled by Islamic law, or Sharia. Their most famous slogan, used worldwide, is: “Islam is the solution”.


After Banna launched the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, branches were set up throughout the country – each running a mosque, a school and a sporting club – and its membership grew rapidly.

By the late 1940s, the group is believed to have had as many as two million followers in Egypt, and its ideas had spread across the Arab world.

At the same time, Banna created a paramilitary wing, the Special Apparatus, whose operatives joined the fight against British rule and engaged in a campaign of bombings and assassinations.

The Egyptian government dissolved the group in late 1948 for attacking British and Jewish interests. Soon afterwards, the group was accused of assassinating Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Nuqrashi.

Banna denounced the killing, but he was subsequently shot dead by an unknown gunman – believed to have been a member of the security forces.

In 1952, colonial rule came to an end following a military coup d’etat led by a group of young officers calling themselves the Free Officers.

The Ikhwan played a supporting role – Anwar al-Sadat, who became president in 1970, was once the Free Officers’ liaison with them – and initially co-operated with the new government, but relations soon soured.

After a failed attempt to assassinate President Gamal Abdul Nasser in 1954, the Ikhwan were blamed, banned, and thousands of members imprisoned and tortured. The group continued, however, to grow underground.

This clash with the authorities prompted an important shift in the ideology of the Ikhwan, evident in the writing of one prominent member, Sayyid Qutb. Qutb’s work advocated the use of jihad (struggle) against jahili (ignorant) societies, both Western and so-called Islamic ones, which he argued were in need of radical transformation.

His writings – particularly the 1964 work Milestones – inspired the founders of many radical Islamist groups, including Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda.

In 1965, the government again cracked down on the Ikhwan, executing Sayyid Qutb in 1966 and making him a martyr throughout the region.


During the 1980s the Ikhwan attempted to rejoin the political mainstream.Successive leaders formed alliances with the Wafd party in 1984, and with the Labour and Liberal parties in 1987, becoming the main opposition force in Egypt. In 2000, the Ikhwan won 17 seats in the People’s Assembly.

Five years later, the group achieved its best election result to date, with independent candidates allied to it winning 20% of the seats.The result shocked President Mubarak. The government subsequently launched a crackdown on the Ikhwan, detaining hundreds of members, and instituted a number of legal “reforms” to counter their resurgence.

The constitution was rewritten to stipulate that “political activity or political parties shall not be based on any religious background or foundation”; independent candidates were banned from running for president; and anti-terrorism legislation was introduced that gave the security forces sweeping powers to detain suspects and restrict public gatherings.

Leaders of President Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) also worked hard to reduce the likelihood of further opposition gains in the November 2010 parliamentary elections.

But their efforts backfired somewhat – the failure of candidates allied to the Ikhwan to win a single seat in the first round was accompanied by allegations of widespread fraud.

The group subsequently joined other opposition parties in announcing a boycott of the second round, and the NDP was left in the embarrassing situation of taking more than 80% of the seats in the People’s Assembly.

The continued repression of the opposition was one of the main triggers for the mass anti-government protests by thousands of Egyptians in late January 2011, which saw the NDP’s headquarters in Cairo set on fire.

The Ikhwan were blamed for fomenting the unrest, but its deputy general guide, Mahmoud Izzat, insisted it was a popular uprising.”We are part of the people. The people are demanding the basics – mainly the necessities of life – and they have the right to do so. The people also demand their freedom and the dissolution of the fake parliament,” he told al-Jazeera TV.

“The youths want the demonstrations to be peaceful but the regime uses excessive violence against the youths, such as rubber bullets.”


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Here is a recent follow up on this from Al Jazerra

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt talks

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has held talks with the government aimed at ending the country's political crisis, but one of the group's leaders has told Al Jazeera that it does not trust the authorities to follow through on promised reforms.

The developments came as pro-democracy rallies continued across the country on Sunday - the 13th day of protests in Egypt.

About a million people were reported to be observing a "day of the martyrs" in Cairo's Tahrir Square - the focal point of the protests - calling for an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. An Al Jazeera correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, who was at the square, was arrested by the military on Sunday afternoon.

Both Muslims and Christians held prayers at the square for the victims of the uprising.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters also gathered in the cities of Alexandria and Mansoura, while thousands more protested in Mahalla. In other parts of the country, banks and shops began to reopen as normal life was seen to be resuming.

Egyptian state television said Omar Suleiman, the country's newly appointed vice-president, began meetings with prominent independent and mainstream opposition figures on Saturday to go through the options, which centre on how to ensure free and fair presidential elections while sticking to the constitution.

The Egyptian president, in a televised address on Tuesday, said he would not seek re-election in September but refused to step down immediately, fearing "chaos".

Brotherhood talks

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has played down the opposition's talks with Suleiman, saying that it is not prepared to drop its central demand of calling for Mubarak to resign as president.

Strong images shot by activists appear to show scenes of intense fighting in Cairo and Alexandria

"We cannot call it talks or negotiations. The Muslim Brotherhood went with a key condition that cannot be abandoned ... that he [Mubarak] needs to step down in order to usher in a democratic phase," Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a member of the MB, told Al Jazeera.

The MB, which is formally banned by whose activities are tolerated, was one of several groups taking part in Sunday's talks. Other participants included members of secular opposition parties, independent legal experts and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, attendees said.

A representative of Mohamed ElBaradei, the opposition figure, was also in attendance.

ElBaradei, however, told the American television station NBC that he had not been invited to the talks. He slammed the negotiations for being "opaque", saying that "nobody knows who is talking to whom at this stage".

The MB's Fotouh described the meeting as testing the waters for what concessions the government was prepared to make.

He said he "did not see any ... seriousness so far. They [the government] have failed to take concrete measurement on the ground.

"If they were serious, the parliament would have been dissolved, also a presidential decree ending the emergency law".

He said that articles 77, 78 and 88 of the constitution should also have been amended by now.

Fotouh was referring to an article of the constitution covering presidential elections, which now effectively puts Mubarak's governing NDP party in a position to choose the next president, and another that allows the president to run for unlimited presidential terms.

He said the Muslim Brotherhood "does not seek power" and will not be fielding a candidate for president in elections.

He asserted that the organisation was not prepared to step back from its demand for Mubarak's departure, saying that if it did, the move would be a "betrayal of the martyrs who have died in the these protests".
Click here for more on Al Jazeera's special coverage

On Sunday, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, cautiously welcomed the inclusion of the MB in talks, but said Washington would "wait and see" what results the dialogue yields.

A proposal being promoted by a group of Egyptians calling itself the The Council of Wise Men involves Suleiman assuming presidential powers for an interim period pending elections.

But some opposition figures argue that would mean the next presidential election would be held under the same unfair conditions as in previous years.

They want to first form a new parliament to change the constitution to pave the way for a presidential vote that is democratic.

Announcement due

Issam al-Aryan, a leading Muslim Brotherhood member, said that the organisation will hold a news conference on Sunday evening to announce what was discussed in the meeting with Suleiman.

Both he and Mohammed Mursi, another senior leader, said that the group will be sticking to its demand that Mubarak resign.

An Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo described the news of the MB joining the talks as "highly significant".

"They are interested in talking about the resignation of president Mubarak," he said. "They want parliament resolved, they want those responsible for violence of the last few days put on trial ... and wanting to be able to peacefully protest."
Opposition Demands

Hosni Mubarak must go
Dissolve parliament
Lift state of emergency
Transitional unity cabinet
Constitutional amendments
Fair and transparent trials

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Alexandria - one of the Muslim Brotherhood's strongholds - says many people are surprised by the group's decision to enter talks.

He said it is a major concession that might be seen as a "weakness" in the sense that the MB did not stick to its stated position against joining negotiations until Mubarak resigns.

Cherif Bassiouni, president of the Egyptian American Society and a former UN human rights expert, said the MB has already proved itself to be a responsible participant in Egypt's legislative process.

"They participated in the 2005 legislative elections. They elected 88 members to the parliament. So they've had a role in the secular parliament," Bassiouni said.

The government tried to get people back to work on Sunday, with banks and businesses reopening in the first clear test of how far protesters can keep up the momentum to topple the government.

But the protesters vowed not to back down in their demand for Mubarak to step down.

"They are steadfast and very sure in their aims and refuse to move," an Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo said.

Mass resignations

The leadership of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) resigned en masse on Saturday, according to state television.

Hossam Badrawi was appointed the new secretary-general of the party, replacing Safwat El-Sherif, a Mubarak loyalist, in that post. Badrawi, seen by many as a liberal voice in the NDP, will also replace Gamal Mubarak, Hosni Mubarak's son, as head of the party's policies bureau.

Other new appointees include: Mohamed Ragah Ahmed, Mohamed Ahmed Abd El-Illah, Maged Mahmoud Younes El-Shirbiny, Mohamed Ahmed Abd El-Salam Hebah and Dr Mohamed Mostafa Kamal, according to an NDP press release.

Officials in the US administration welcomed the resignation of Gamal Mubarak, terming it a "positive" move.

But the administration has continued to insist upon an orderly and peaceful transition in Egypt.

Frank Wisner, who has acted as a White House envoy by carrying a message to Mubarak, said on Saturday that Mubarak "must stay in office to steer" a process of gathering "national consensus around the preconditions" for the way forward.

PJ Crowley, the US state department's spokesman, said, however, that Wisner was speaking as a private citizen, and that his views did not represent those of the US government.




📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel: