I am beginning my research on who, or what, the Muslim Brotherhood is. This not an area I intend to publish on. I just want to have an informed opinion.
What I know right now is that they were a banned opposition party under Mubarak. They were the most organized opposition movement. My students tell me that the Slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is "Islam is the Answer." However, they have said that they will not field a candidate for President in the upcoming elections. The MB has formed a new political party called the Justice and Freedom Party. Elections are expected to be held in Egypt in September.
Conventional wisdom is that the Muslim Brotherhood is not polling more than 20% of the Egyptian public. Egypt is the most modern, and the most secular of the major Arab states. Women pay a key role at all levels in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood did not organize the protests on Tahrir Square, nor did the Brotherhood actually endorse the first round of protests, and only joined them belatedly. Their slogans, say my students, were no where in evidence. The youth of Egypt led the Revolution, not the Brotherhood. Rob L. Wagner argues that the Brotherhood does not have the support of Egypt's youth.
The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in1928 by Hassan al Banna. The Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt since 1954. Notably, the Brotherhood denounced violenced years ago. The Brotherhood won 88 seats in Parliament (20%) in the 2005 elections. Mubarak saw the Brotherhood as a threat, and cracked down on the organization in 2005.
Now, Mubarak has stepped down, the parliament has been dissolved, and the constitution has been suspended. It appears that the Armed Forces is in favor of amending the constitution, which would allow the Muslim Brotherhood a new shot at legitimacy. A panel of experts drawing up changes to the Egyptian constitution will include a member of the Brotherhood.
Many fear that the Brotherhood will turn Egypt into an Islamist state. However, many characterize the Brotherhood as "moderate." The question is whether the Brotherhood truly supports multi-party democracy, or would prefer a theocracy, such as currently rules Iran.
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