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The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Arabic: جماعة الإخوان المسلمينJami'ah al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn), shortened to the Muslim Brotherhood (الإخوان المسلمون al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn), is a transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt by Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928. The organisation gained supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups such as Hamas with its "model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work", and in 2012 sponsored the elected political party in Egypt after the January Revolution in 2011. However, it suffered from periodic government crackdowns for alleged terrorist activities, and as of 2015 is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
The Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Quran and Sunnah as the "sole reference point for ... ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community ... and state". Its mottos include "Believers are but Brothers", "Islam is the Solution", and "Allah is our objective; the Qur'an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish".
It is financed by members, who are required to allocate a portion of their income to the movement, and was for many years financed by Saudi Arabia, with whom it shared some enemies and some points of doctrine.
As a Pan-Islamic, religious, and social movement, it preached Islam, taught the illiterate, set up hospitals and business enterprises. The group spread to other Muslim countries but has its largest, or one of its largest, organizations in Egypt despite a succession of government crackdowns in 1948, 1954, 1965, and 2013 after plots, or alleged plots, of assassination and overthrow were uncovered.
The Arab Spring brought it legalization and substantial political power at first, but as of 2013 it has suffered severe reversals. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was legalized in 2011 and won several elections, including the 2012 presidential election when its candidate Mohamed Morsi became Egypt's first elected president after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
One year later, however, following massive demonstrations, anger at perceived discrimination and disenfranchisement against religious minorities and economic instability, Morsi was overthrown by the military and arrested.
- 1 Beliefs
- 2 Strategy and organization
- 3 In Egypt
- 4 In the Middle East
- 5 Elsewhere in Africa
- 6 Other states
- 7 Criticism
- 8 Foreign relations
- 9 In media
- 10 See also
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
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The Brotherhood's English language website describes the principles of the Muslim Brotherhood as including firstly the introduction of the Islamic Sharia as "the basis for controlling the affairs of state and society" and secondly, work to unify "Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism".
We believe that the political reform is the true and natural gateway for all other kinds of reform. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political pluralism, the peaceful rotation of power and the fact that the nation is the source of all powers. As we see it, political reform includes the termination of the state of emergency, restoring public freedoms, including the right to establish political parties, whatever their tendencies may be, and the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, etc. It also includes the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary, enabling the judiciary to fully and truly supervise general elections so as to ensure that they authentically express people's will, removing all obstacles that restrict the functioning of civil society organizations, etc.
Its founder, Hassan Al-Banna, was influenced by Islamic modernist reformers Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida (attacking the taqlid of the official `ulama, insisting that only the Quran and the best-attested hadiths should be sources of the Sharia), with the group structure and approach being influenced by Sufism. As Islamic Modernist beliefs were co-opted by secularist rulers and official `ulama, the Brotherhood has become traditionalist and conservative, "being the only available outlet for those whose religious and cultural sensibilities had been outraged by the impact of Westernisation". Al-Banna believed the Quran and Sunnah constitute a perfect way of life and social and political organization that God has set out for man. Islamic governments must be based on this system and eventually unified in a Caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood's goal, as stated by its founder al-Banna was to drive out British colonial and other Western influences, reclaim Islam's manifest destiny—an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia. The Brotherhood preaches that Islam will bring social justice, the eradication of poverty, corruption and sinful behavior, and political freedom (to the extent allowed by the laws of Islam).
On the issue of women and gender the Muslim Brotherhood interprets Islam conservatively. Its founder called for "a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior", "segregation of male and female students", a separate curriculum for girls, and "the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes ... "
There have been breakaway groups from the movement, including the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya and Al Takfir Wal Hijra. Prominent figures of the Brotherhood include Sayyid Qutb, a highly influential and anti-Semitic thinker of Islamic supremacism, and the author of Milestones. Osama bin Laden criticized the Brotherhood, and accused it of betraying jihad and the ideals of Qutb.
The Brotherhood's "most frequently used slogan" (according to the BBC) is "Islam is the Solution" (الإسلام هو الحل). Another well known slogan is "God is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of God is our highest hope. God is greater!" On the Brotherhood's green logo is emblazoned وَأَعِدُّواْ ("And prepare") - taken from sūrat l-anfāl ("spoils of war", the 8th "chapter" of the Quran). According to academic Khalil Yusuf its motto "was traditionally" "Believers are but Brothers".
Strategy and organization
The Muslim Brotherhood position on political participation varied according to the "domestic situation" of each branch, rather than ideology. For many years its stance was "collaborationist" in Kuwait and Jordan; for "pacific opposition" in Egypt; "armed opposition" in Libya and Syria. In November 2001 a document, later known as The Muslim Brotherhood Project, dated 1982 outlining "a global vision of a worldwide strategy for Islamic policy [or `political Islam`]" for the Brotherhood was found in Switzerland and translated into English by Scott Burgess in 2005. (A book on the document was published under the name, La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (The conquest of the West : The Islamists' Secret Project) by Sylvain Besson.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a movement, not a political party, but members have created political parties in several countries, such as the Islamic Action Front in Jordan and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank and the now disbanded Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt. These parties are staffed by Brotherhood members but kept independent from the Muslim Brotherhood to some degree, unlike Hizb ut-Tahrir which is highly centralized. The Brotherhood has been described a "combination of neo-Sufic tariqa" (with al-Banna as the original murshid i.e., guide of the tariqa) "and a political party". The Egyptian Brotherhood has a pyramidal structure with "families" (or usra, which consists of four to five people and is headed by a naqib, or "captain) at the bottom, "clans" above them, "groups" above clans and "battalions" or "phalanxes" above groups. Potential Brethren start out as Muhib or "lovers", and if approved move up to becomes a muayyad, or "supporter", then to muntasib or "affiliated", (who are nonvoting members). If a muntasib "satisfies his monitors", he is promoted to muntazim, or "organizer", before advancing to the final level -- ach 'amal, or "working brother". With this slow careful advancement, the loyalty of potential members can be "closely probed" and obedience to orders assured.
At the top of the hierarchy is the Guidance Office (Maktab al-Irshad), and immediately below the Shura Council. Orders are passed down through a chain of command:
- The Shura Council has the duties of planning, charting general policies and programs that achieve the goal of the Group. It is composed of roughly 100 Muslim Brothers. Important decisions, such as whether to participate in elections, are debated and voted on within the Shura Council and then executed by the Guidance Office. Its resolutions are binding to the Group and only the General Organisational Conference can modify or annul them and the Shura Office has also the right to modify or annul resolutions of the Executive Office. It follows the implementation of the Group policies and programs. It directs the Executive Office and it forms dedicated branch committees to assist in that.
- Executive Office or Guidance Office (Maktab al-Irshad), which is composed of approximately 15 longtime Muslim Brothers and headed by the supreme guide or General Masul (murshid) Each member of the Guidance Office oversees a different portfolio, such as university recruitment, education, or politics. Guidance Office members are elected by the Shura Council. Divisions of the Guidance/Executive Office include:
- Executive leadership
- Organizational office
- Secretariat general
- Educational office
- Political office
- Sisters office
The Muslim Brotherhood aimed to build a transnational organization. In the 1940s the Egyptian Brotherhood organized a "section for Liaison with the Islamic World" endowed with nine committees. Groups were founded in Lebanon (in 1936), Syria (1937), and Transjordan (1946). It also recruited among the foreign students in Cairo where its headquarters became a center and meeting place for representatives from the whole Muslim world.
In each country with an MB there is a Branch committee with a Masul (leader) appointed by the General Executive leadership with essentially the same Branch-divisions as the Executive office. "Properly speaking" Brotherhood branches exist only in Arab countries of the Middle East where they are "in theory" subordinate to the Egyptian General Guide. Beyond that the Brotherhood sponsors national organizations in countries like Tunisia (Nahda), Morocco (Justice and Charity party), Algeria (Movement of Society for Peace). Outside the Arab world it also has influence, with a former President of Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani having adopted MB ideas during his studies at Al-Azhar University, and many similarities between mujahideen groups in Afghanistan and Arab MBs. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia in Malaysia is close to the Brotherhood. According to scholar Olivier Roy, as of 1994 "an international agency" of the Brotherhood "assures the cooperation of the ensemble" of its national organizations. The agency's "composition is not well known, but the Egyptians maintain a dominant position".
Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Ismailia in March 1928 along with six workers of the Suez Canal Company, as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement. The Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as the Brotherhood's headquarters, according to Richard Mitchell's The Society of Muslim Brothers. According to al-Banna, contemporary Islam had lost its social dominance, because most Muslims had been corrupted by Western influences. Sharia law based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah were seen as laws passed down by God that should be applied to all parts of life, including the organization of the government and the handling of everyday problems.
Al-Banna was populist in his message of protecting workers against the tyranny of foreign and monopolist companies. It founded social institutions such as hospitals, pharmacies, schools, etc. Al-Banna held highly conservative views on issues such as women's rights, opposing equal rights for women, but supporting the establishment of justice towards women. The Brotherhood grew rapidly going from 800 members in 1936, to 200,000 by 1938 and over 2 million by 1948.
As its influence grew, it opposed British rule in Egypt starting in 1936, but was banned after being accused of violent killings including the assassination of a Prime Minister by a young Brotherhood member.
Post–World War II
In November 1948, following several bombings and assassination attempts, the Egyptian government arrested 32 leaders of the Brotherhood's "secret apparatus" and banned the Brotherhood. At this time the Brotherhood was estimated to have 2000 branches and 500,000 members or sympathizers. In succeeding months Egypt's prime minister was assassinated by a Brotherhood member, and following that Al-Banna himself was assassinated in what is thought to be a cycle of retaliation.
In 1952, members of the Muslim Brotherhood were accused of taking part in the Cairo Fire that destroyed some 750 buildings in downtown Cairo – mainly night clubs, theatres, hotels, and restaurants frequented by British and other foreigners.
In 1952 Egypt's monarchy was overthrown by a group of nationalist military officers (Free Officers Movement) who had formed a cell within the Brotherhood during the first war against Israel in 1948. However, after the revolution Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of the 'free officers' cell, after deposing the first President of Egypt, Muhammad Neguib, in a coup, quickly moved against the Brotherhood, blaming them for an attempt on his life. The Brotherhood was again banned and this time thousands of its members were imprisoned, many being tortured and held for years in prisons and concentration camps. In the 1950s and 1960s many Brotherhood members sought sanctuary in Saudi Arabia. From the 1950s, Al-Banna's son-in-law Said Ramadan emerged as a major leader of the brotherhood and the movement's unofficial "foreign minister". Ramadan built a major center for the brotherhood centered on a mosque in Munich, which became "a refuge for the beleaguered group during its decades in the wilderness".
In the 1970s after the death of Nasser and under the new President (Anwar Sadat), the Egyptian Brotherhood was invited back to Egypt and began a new phase of participation in Egyptian politics. Imprisoned Brethren were released and the organization was tolerated to varying degrees with periodic arrests and crackdowns until the 2011 Revolution.
During the Mubarak era, observers both defended and criticized the Brotherhood. It was the largest opposition group in Egypt, calling for "Islamic reform", and a democratic system in Egypt. It had built a vast network of support through Islamic charities working among poor Egyptians. According to ex-Knesset member and author Uri Avnery the Brotherhood was religious but pragmatic, "deeply embedded in Egyptian history, more Arab and more Egyptian than fundamentalist". It formed "an old established party which has earned much respect with its steadfastness in the face of recurrent persecution, torture, mass arrests and occasional executions. Its leaders are untainted by the prevalent corruption, and admired for their commitment to social work". It also developed a significant movement online.
In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood became "in effect, the first opposition party of Egypt's modern era". Despite electoral irregularities, including the arrest of hundreds of Brotherhood members, and having to run its candidates as independents (the party being technically illegal), the Brotherhood won 88 seats (20% of the total) compared to 14 seats for the legal opposition.
During its term in parliament the Brotherhood "posed a democratic political challenge to the regime, not a theological one", according to one The New York Times journalist, while another report praised it for attempting to transform "the Egyptian parliament into a real legislative body", that represented citizens and kept the government "accountable".
But fears remained about its commitment to democracy, equal rights, and freedom of expression and belief—or lack thereof. In December 2006, a campus demonstration by Brotherhood students in uniforms, demonstrating martial arts drills, betrayed to some such as Jameel Theyabi "the group's intent to plan for the creation of militia structures, and a return by the group to the era of 'secret cells'". Another report highlighted the Muslim Brotherhood's efforts in Parliament to combat what one member called the 'current US-led war against Islamic culture and identity', forcing the Minister of Culture (Farouk Hosny) to ban the publication of three novels on the ground they promoted blasphemy and unacceptable sexual practices. In October 2007, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a detailed political platform. Amongst other things it called for a board of Muslim clerics to oversee the government, and limiting the office of the presidency to Muslim men. In the "Issues and Problems" chapter of the platform, it declared that a woman was not suited to be president because the post's religious and military duties "conflict with her nature, social and other humanitarian roles". While proclaiming "equality between men and women in terms of their human dignity", the document warned against "burdening women with duties against their nature or role in the family".
Internally, some leaders in the Brotherhood disagreed on whether to adhere to Egypt's 32-year peace treaty with Israel. A deputy leader declared the Brotherhood would seek dissolution of the treaty, while a Brotherhood spokesman stated the Brotherhood would respect the treaty as long as "Israel shows real progress on improving the lot of the Palestinians".
2011 revolution and after
Following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood was legalized and was at first very successful, dominating the 2011 parliamentary election and winning the 2012 presidential election, before the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi a year later, leading to a crackdown on the Brotherhood again.
On 30 April 2011, the Brotherhood launched a new party called the Freedom and Justice Party, which won 235 of the 498 seats in the 2011 Egyptian parliamentary elections, far more than any other party. The party rejected the "candidacy of women or Copts for Egypt's presidency", but not for cabinet positions.
The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for Egypt's 2012 presidential election was Mohamed Morsi, who defeated Ahmed Shafiq—the last prime minister under Mubarak's rule—with 51.73% of the vote. Some high level supporters and former Brotherhood officials have reiterated hostility toward Zionism, although during his campaign Morsi himself promised to stand for peaceful relations with Israel.
Within a short period, serious public opposition developed to President Morsi. In late November 2012 he 'temporarily' granted himself the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts, on the grounds that he needed to "protect" the nation from the Mubarak-era power structure. He also put a draft constitution to a referendum that opponents complained was "an Islamist coup". These issues—and concerns over the prosecutions of journalists, the unleashing of pro-Brotherhood gangs on nonviolent demonstrators, the continuation of military trials, new laws that permitted detention without judicial review for up to 30 days, and the seeming impunity given to Islamist radical attacks on Christians and other minorities—brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets starting in November 2012.
By April 2013, Egypt had "become increasingly divided" between President Mohamed Morsi and "Islamist allies" and an opposition of "moderate Muslims, Christians and liberals". Opponents accused "Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood of seeking to monopolize power, while Morsi's allies say the opposition is trying to destabilize the country to derail the elected leadership". Adding to the unrest were severe fuel shortages and electricity outages, which raised suspicions among some Egyptians that the end of gas and electricity shortages since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi was evidence of a conspiracy to undermine him, although other Egyptians say it was evidence of Morsi's mismanagement of the economy.
On 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi was arrested and detained by the military, following a popular uprising of millions of Egyptians demanding the resignation of Morsi. There were also limited counter-protests in support of Morsi. On 14 August, the military declared a month-long state of emergency and commenced raids against Brotherhood protest encampments. Violence escalated rapidly and led to the deaths of over 600 people and injury of some 4,000, with the incident resulting in the most casualties in Egypt's modern history. In retaliation Brotherhood supporters looted and burned police stations and dozens of churches. The crackdown that followed has been called the worst for the Brotherhood's organization "in eight decades". By 19 August, al Jazeera reported that "most" of the Brotherhood's leaders were in custody. On that day Supreme Leader Mohammed Badie was arrested, crossing a "red line", as even Hosni Mubarak had never arrested him. On 23 September, a court ordered the group outlawed and its assets seeized. Prime Minister, Hazem Al Beblawi on 21 December 2013, declared the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation after a car bomb ripped through a police building and killed at least 14 people in the city of Mansoura, which the government blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, despite no evidence and a Sinai-based terror group claiming responsibility for the attack.
On 24 March 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, an act described by Amnesty International as "the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we've seen in recent years […] anywhere in the world". By May 2014, approximately 16,000 people (and as high as more than 40,000 by one independent count), mostly Brotherhood members or supporters, have been imprisoned since the 2013 uprising. On 2 February 2015, an Egyptian court sentenced another 183 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death.
The New York Times reported that "Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which became the leading political movement in the wake of Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising, are languishing in prison, unfairly branded as terrorists. ... Egypt’s crushing authoritarianism could well persuade a significant number of its citizens that violence is the only tool they have for fighting back".
Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to death on 16 May 2015, along with 120 others.
How much of the blame for the fall from power in Egypt of the Brotherhood and its allied Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) can be blamed on the Brotherhood, and how much on its enemies in the Egyptian bureaucracy and media and security establishment is disputed. The Mubarak government’s state media portrayed the Brotherhood as secretive and illegal, and TV stations such as OnTv spent much on air time vilifying the organization. But the Brotherhood took a number of controversial steps and also acquiesced to or supported crackdowns by the military during Morsi’s presidency. Before the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters appeared at a protest at Al-Azhar University wearing military style fatigues, which the Mubarak government accused the organization of starting an underground militia. When it came to power, the Muslim Brotherhood did indeed try to establish armed groups of supporters and sought official permission for its members to be armed.
- Founder and first General Leader (G.L.): (1928–1949) Hassan al Banna
- 2nd G.L.: (1949–1972) Hassan al-Hudaybi
- 3rd G.L.: (1972–1986) Umar al-Tilmisani
- 4th G.L.: (1986–1996) Muhammad Hamid Abu al-Nasr
- 5th G.L.: (1996–2002) Mustafa Mashhur
- 6th G.L.: (2002–2004) Ma'mun al-Hudaybi
- 7th G.L.: (2004–2010) Mohammed Mahdi Akef
- 8th G.L.: (16 January 2010) Mohammed Badie
In the Middle East
In Bahrain, the Muslim Brotherhood idiology is speculated to be represented by the Al Eslah Society and its political wing, the Al-Menbar Islamic Society. Following parliamentary elections in 2002, Al Menbar became the largest joint party with eight seats in the forty-seat Chamber of Deputies. Prominent members of Al Menbar include Dr Salah Abdulrahman, Dr. Salah Al Jowder, and outspoken MP Mohammed Khalid. The party has generally backed government-sponsored legislation on economic issues, but has sought a clampdown on pop concerts, sorcery and soothsayers. It has strongly opposed the government's accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .
In March 2009, the Shi'a group The Islamic Enlightenment Society held its annual conference with the announced aim of defusing tension between Muslim branches. The society invited national Sunni and Shi'a scholars to participate. Bahraini independent Salafi religious scholars Sheikh Salah Al Jowder and Sheikh Rashid Al Muraikhi, and Shi'a clerics Sheikh Isa Qasim and Abdulla Al Ghoraifi spoke about the importance of sectarian cooperation. Additional seminars were held throughout the year.
Although Iran is a predominately Shia Muslim country and the Muslim Brotherhood has never attempted to create a branch for Shia, Olga Davidson and Mohammad Mahallati claim the Brotherhood has had influence among Shia in Iran. Navab Safavi, who founded Fada'iyan-e Islam, (also Fedayeen of Islam, or Fadayan-e Islam), an Iranian Islamic organization active in Iran in the 1940s and 1950s, "was highly impressed by the Muslim Brotherhood". From 1945 to 1951 the Fadain assassinated several high level Iranian personalities and officials who they believed to be un-Islamic. They included anti-clerical writer Ahmad Kasravi, Premier Haj Ali Razmara, former Premier Abdolhossein Hazhir, and Education and Culture Minister Ahmad Zangeneh.
In 2013, the Al Arabiya reported that since the June 30 revolution in Egypt, Turkey has become the regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization. At the same time, the German-based Deutsche Welle reported that Turkey's support for Muslim Brotherhood is isolating it. Also, the Washington Institute stated that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP government in Ankara has thrown its full support behind the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt because Erdogan sees a bit of the AKP in the Brotherhood.
The Iraqi Islamic Party was formed in 1960 as the Iraqi branch of the Brotherhood, but was banned from 1961 during the nationalist rule of Abd al-Karim Qasim. As government repression hardened under the Baath Party from February 1963, the group was forced to continue underground. After the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in 2003, the Islamic Party has reemerged as one of the main advocates of the country's Sunni community. The Islamic Party has been sharply critical of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, but participates in the political process. Its leader is Iraqi Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashimi.
Also, in the north of Iraq there are several Islamic movements inspired by or part of the Muslim Brotherhood network. The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), a small political party holding 10 seats in the Kurdish parliament, was believed to be supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 90's. The group leaders and members have been continuously arrested by Kurdish authorities.
'Abd al-Rahman al-Banna, the brother of the Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, went to Mandatory Palestine and established the Muslim Brotherhood there in 1935. Al-Hajj Amin al-Husseini, eventually appointed by the British as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in hopes of accommodating him, was the leader of the group in Palestine. Another important leader associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine was 'Izz al-Din al-Qassam, an inspiration to Islamists because he had been the first to lead an armed resistance in the name of Palestine against the British in 1935. In 1945, the group established a branch in Jerusalem, and by 1947 twenty-five more branches had sprung up, in towns such as Jaffa, Lod, Haifa, Nablus, and Tulkarm, which total membership between 12,000 and 20,000.
Brotherhood members fought alongside the Arab armies during the 1948 Arab–Israeli war, and, after Israel's creation, the ensuing Palestinian refugee crisis encouraged more Palestinian Muslims to join the group. After the war, in the West Bank, the group's activity was mainly social and religious, not political, so it had relatively good relations with Jordan during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank. In contrast, the group frequently clashed with the Egyptian government that controlled the Gaza Strip until 1967.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Brotherhood's goal was "the upbringing of an Islamic generation" through the restructuring of society and religious education, rather than opposition to Israel, and so it lost popularity to insurgent movements and the presence of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Eventually, however, the Brotherhood was strengthened by several factors:
- The creation of al-Mujamma' al-Islami, the Islamic Center in 1973 by Shaykh Ahmad Yasin had a centralizing effect that encapsulated all religious organizations.
- The Muslim Brotherhood Society in Jordan and Palestine was created from a merger of the branches in the West Bank and Gaza and Jordan.
- Palestinian disillusion with the Palestinian militant groups caused them to become more open to alternatives.
- The Islamic Revolution in Iran offered inspiration to Palestinians. The Brotherhood was able to increase its efforts in Palestine and avoid being dismantled like militant groups because it did not focus on the occupation. While militant groups were being dismantled, the Brotherhood filled the void.
Between 1967 and 1987, the year Hamas was founded, the number of mosques in Gaza tripled from 200 to 600, and the Muslim Brotherhood named the period between 1975 and 1987 a phase of 'social institution building'. During that time, the Brotherhood established associations, used zakat (alms giving) for aid to poor Palestinians, promoted schools, provided students with loans, used waqf (religious endowments) to lease property and employ people, and established mosques. Likewise, antagonistic and sometimes violent opposition to Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization and other secular nationalist groups increased dramatically in the streets and on university campuses.
In 1987, following the Intifada, the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas was established from Brotherhood-affiliated charities and social institutions that had gained a strong foothold among the local population. During the First Intifada (1987–93), Hamas militarized and transformed into one of the strongest Palestinian militant groups.
The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 was the first time since the Sudanese coup of 1989 that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, that a Muslim Brotherhood group ruled a significant geographic territory. However, the 2013 overthrow of the Mohammad Morsi government in Egypt significantly weakened Hamas's position, leading to a blockade of Gaza and economic crisis.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan originates from the merging of two separate groups which represent the two components of the Jordanian public: the Transjordanian and the West Bank Palestinian. On 9 November 1945 the Association of the Muslim Brotherhood (Jam‘iyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin) was officially registered and Abu Qura became its first General Supervisor. Abu Qura originally brought the Brotherhood to Jordan from Egypt after extensive study and spread of the teachings of Imam Hasan al-Banna. While most political parties and movements were banned for a long time in Jordan such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Brotherhood was exempted and allowed to operate by the Jordanian monarchy. In 1948, Egypt, Syria, and Transjordan offered “volunteers” to help Palestine in its war against Israel. Due to the defeat and weakening of Palestine, the Transjordanian and Palestinian Brotherhood merged. The newly merged Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was primarily concerned with providing social services and charitable work as well as with politics and its role in the parliament. It was seen as compatible with the political system and supported democracy without the forced implementation of Sharia law which was part of its doctrine. However, internal pressures from younger members of the Brotherhood who called for more militant actions as well as his failing health, Abu Qura resigned as the leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. On December 26, 1953, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman Khalifa, was elected by the movement’s administrative committee as the new leader of the Transjordanian Brotherhood and he retained this position until 1994. Khalifa was different than his predecessor and older members of the organization because he was not educated in Cairo, he was educated in Syria and Palestine. He established close ties with Palestinian Islamists during his educational life which led him to be jailed for several months in Jordan for criticizing Arab armies in the war. Khalifa also reorganized the Brotherhood and applied to the government to designate the Brotherhood as “a comprehensive and general Islamic Committee, instead of the previous basis of operation under the “Societies and Clubs Law”. This allowed the Brotherhood to spread throughout the country each with slight socioeconomic and political differences although the majority of the members were of the upper middle class. The radicalization of the Brotherhood began to take place after the peace process between Egypt and Israel, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, as well as their open criticism towards the Jordan-US relationship in the 1970s. Support for the Syrian branch of the Brotherhood also aided the radicalization of the group through open support and training for the rebel forces in Syria. The ideology began to transform into a more militant one which without it would not have the support of the Islamic radicals.
The Jordanian Brotherhood has formed its own political party, the Islamic Action Front. In 1989 they become the largest group in parliament, with 23 out of 80 seats, and 9 other Islamist allies. A Brother was elected president of 3he National Assembly and the cabinet formed in January 1991 included several MBs. Its radicalization which calls for more militant support for Hamas in Palestine has come into direct conflict with its involvement in the parliament and overall political process. The Brotherhood claimed its acceptance of democracy and the democratic process but only within their own groups. There is a high degree of dissent amongst Brotherhood leaders who do not share the same values therefore undermining its acceptance and commitment to democracy.
The Muslim Brotherhood is playing an active role in the unrest in several Arab countries in January 2011. For example, at a rally held outside the Egyptian Embassy in Amman on Saturday, 29 January 2011 with some 100 participants, Hammam Saeed, head of the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan and a close ally of the Hamas's Damascus-based leader, Khaled Meshaal, said: "Egypt's unrest will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States". However, he did not specifically name Jordanian King Abdullah II.
As of late 2013, the movement in Jordan was described as being in "disarray". The instability and conflict with the monarchy has led the relationship between the two to crumble. This is mainly due to its support for the toppling of political governments in the region which they did not agree with. In 2015, some 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood defected from the original group including top leaders and founding members, to establish another Islamic group, with an allegedly moderate stance. The defectors said that they didn't like how things were run in the group and due to the group's relations with Hamas, Qatar and Turkey, which put suspicion on the group questioning if they are under the influence and working for the benefit of these states and organizations on the expense of the Jordanian state.
In 13 April 2016, Jordanian police raided and shut the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Amman. This comes despite the fact that the Jordanian branch cut ties with the mother Egyptian group in January 2016, a designated terrorist organization, a move that is considered to be exclusively cosmetic by experts. Jordanian authorities state that the reason of closure is because that the Brotherhood is unlicensed and is using the name of the defectors' licensed group. This comes after the Jordanian senate passed a new legislation for the regulation of political parties in 2014, the Muslim Brotherhood did not adhere by the regulations of the new law and so they did not renew their membership.
Egyptian Brethren came to Kuwait in the 1950s as refugees from Arab nationalism and integrated into the education ministry and other parts of the state. The Brotherhood's charity arm in Kuwait is called Al Eslah (Social Reform Society) and its political arm is called the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) or "Hadas". Members of ICM have been elected to parliament and served in the government and are "widely believed to hold sway with the Ministry of Awqaf" (Islamic endowment) and Islamic Affairs, but have never reached a majority or even a plurality — "a fact that has required them to be pragmatic about working with other political groups". During the Invasion of Kuwait, the Kuwait MB (along with other MB in the Gulf States) supported the American-Saudi coalition forces against Iraq and "quit the brotherhood's international agency in protest" over its pro-Sadam stand. However following the Arab Spring and the crackdown on the Egyptian Brotherhood, the Saudi government has put “pressure on other states that have Muslim Brotherhood adherents, asking them to decree that the group is a terrorist organization”, and the local Kuwaiti and other Gulf state Brotherhoods have not been spared pressure from their local governments.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia helped the Brotherhood financially for "over half a century", but the two became estranged during the Gulf War, and enemies after the election of Mohamed Morsi. Inside the kingdom, before the crushing of the Egyptian MB, the brotherhood was called a group whose "many quiet supporters" made it "one of the few potential threats" to the royal family's control.
The brotherhood first had an impact inside Saudi Arabia in 1954 when thousands of Egyptian brethren sought to escape president Gamal Abdel Nasser's clampdown, while (the largely illiterate) Saudi Arabia was looking for teachers—who were also conservative pious Arab Muslims—for its newly created public school system. The Muslim Brotherhood's brand of Islam and Islamic politics differs from the strict Salafi creed, Wahhabiyya, officially held by the state of Saudi Arabia, and MB members "obeyed orders of the ruling family and ulama to not attempt to proselytize or otherwise get involved in religious doctrinal matters within the Kingdom. Nonetheless, the group "methodically ... took control of Saudi Arabia's intellectual life" by publishing books and participating in discussion circles and salons held by princes. Although the organization had no "formal organizational presence" in the Kingdom, (no political groups or parties are allowed to operate openly) MB members became "entrenched both in Saudi society and in the Saudi state, taking a leading role in key governmental ministries". In particular, many established themselves in Saudi educational system. One expert on Saudi affairs (Stephane Lacroix) has stated: "The education system is so controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, it will take 20 years to change—if at all. Islamists see education as their base" in Saudi Arabia.
Relations between the Saudi ruling family and the Brotherhood became strained with Saudi opposition to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the willingness of Saudi government to allow US troops to be based in the Kingdom to fight Iraq. The Brotherhood supported the Sahwah ("Awakening") movement that pushed for political change in the Kingdom. In 2002, the then Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef denounced the Brotherhood, saying it was guilty of "betrayal of pledges and ingratitude" and was "the source of all problems in the Islamic world". The ruling family was also alarmed by the Arab Spring and the example set by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, with president Mohamed Morsi bringing an Islamist government to power by means of popular revolution and elections. Sahwa figures published petitions for reform addressed to the royal government (in violation of Wahhabi quietist doctrine). After the overthrow of the Morsi government in Egypt, all the major Sahwa figures signed petitions and statements denouncing the coup and the Saudi government support for it.
In March 2014, in a "significant departure from its past official stance" the Saudi government declared the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization", followed with a royal decree announced that, from now on,
“belonging to intellectual or religious trends or groups that are extremist or categorized as terrorist at the local, regional or international level, as well supporting them, or showing sympathy for their ideas and methods in whichever way, or expressing support for them through whichever means, or offering them financial or moral support, or inciting others to do any of this or promoting any such actions in word or writing”
will be punished by a prison sentence “of no less than three years and no more than twenty years”.
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2016)|
The Islamic Group was founded in 1964.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria was founded in the 1930s (according to lexicorient.com) or in 1945, a year before independence from France, (according to journalist Robin Wright). In the first decade or so of independence it was part of the legal opposition, and in the 1961 parliamentary elections it won ten seats (5.8% of the house). But after the 1963 coup that brought the secular Ba'ath Party to power it was banned. It played a major role in the mainly Sunni-based movement that opposed the secularist, pan-Arabist Ba'ath Party. This conflict developed into an armed struggle that continued until culminating in the Hama uprising of 1982, when the rebellion was crushed by the military.
Membership in the Syrian Brotherhood became a capital offence in Syria in 1980 (under Emergency Law 49, which was revoked in 2011), but the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Palestinian group, Hamas, was located in the Syria's capital Damascus, where it was given Syrian government support. This has been cited as an example of the lack of international centralisation or even coordination of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood is said to have "resurrected itself" and become the "dominant group" in the opposition by 2012 during the Syrian Civil War according to the Washington Post newspaper. But by 2013 another source described it as having "virtually no influence on the conflict". Syrian President Bashar al-Assad welcomed the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and remarked that "Arab identity is back on the right track after the fall from power of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which had used religion for its own political gain".
United Arab Emirates
The Muslim Brotherhood has been considered as terrorist in the UAE.
The Al Islah was founded in 1974. They belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brothers fought with North Yemen in the NDF rebellion as Islamic Front. The Muslim Brotherhood is the political arm of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, commonly known as Al-Islah. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh made substantial efforts to entrench the accusations of being in league with Al Qaeda.
Elsewhere in Africa
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The Muslim Brotherhood reached Algeria during the later years of the French colonial presence in the country (1830–1962). Sheikh Ahmad Sahnoun led the organization in Algeria between 1953 and 1954 during the French colonialism. Brotherhood members and sympathizers took part in the uprising against France in 1954–1962, but the movement was marginalized during the largely secular FLN one-party rule which was installed at independence in 1962. It remained unofficially active, sometimes protesting the government and calling for increased Islamization and Arabization of the country's politics.
When a multi-party system was introduced in Algeria in the early 1990s, the Muslim Brotherhood formed the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP, previously known as Hamas), led by Mahfoud Nahnah until his death in 2003 (he was succeeded by present party leader Boudjerra Soltani). The Muslim Brotherhood in Algeria did not join the Front islamique du salut (FIS), which emerged as the leading Islamist group, winning the 1991 elections and which was banned in 1992 following a military coup d'état, although some Brotherhood sympathizers did. The Brotherhood subsequently also refused to join the violent post-coup uprising by FIS sympathizers and the Armed Islamic Groups (GIA) against the Algerian state and military which followed, and urged a peaceful resolution to the conflict and a return to democracy. It has thus remained a legal political organization and enjoyed parliamentary and government representation. In 1995, Sheikh Nahnah ran for President of Algeria finishing second with 25.38% of the popular vote. During the 2000s (decade), the party—led by Nahnah's successor Boudjerra Soltani—has been a member of a three-party coalition backing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
A group of the Muslim Brotherhood came to the Libyan kingdom in the 1950s as refugees escaping crackdown by the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, but it was not able to operate openly until after the First Libyan Civil War. They were viewed negatively by King Idris of Libya who had become increasingly wary of their activities. Muammar Gaddafi forbade all forms of Islamism in Libya and was an archenemy to the Muslim Brotherhood for long time. The group held its first public press conference on 17 November 2011, and on 24 December the Brotherhood announced that it would form the Justice and Construction Party (JCP) and contest the General National Congress elections the following year.
Despite predictions based on fellow post-Arab Spring nations Tunisia and Egypt that the Brotherhood's party would easily win the elections, it instead came a distant second to the National Forces Alliance, receiving just 10% of the vote and 17 out of 80 party-list seats. Their candidate for Prime Minister, Awad al-Baraasi was also defeated in the first round of voting in September, although he was later made a Deputy Prime Minister under Ali Zeidan. A JCP Congressman, Saleh Essaleh is also the vice speaker of the General National Congress.
Sallabi the Head of Homeland Party has close ties to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood.
Changes to the demographic and political makeup of Mauritania in the 1970s heavily contributed to the growth of Islamism within Mauritanian society. Periods of severe drought resulted in urbanization, as large numbers of Mauritanians moved from the countryside to the cities, particularly Nouakchott, to escape the drought. This sharp increase in urbanization resulted in new civil associations being formed, and Mauritania's first Islamist organisation, known as Jemaa Islamiyya (Islamic Association) was formed by Mauritanians sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.
There was increased activism relating to the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s, partially driven by members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2007 the National Rally for Reform and Development, better known as Tewassoul, was legalized as a political party. The party is associated with the Mauritanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Justice and Development Party was the largest vote-getter in Morocco's 2011 election, and as of May 2015, held the office of Prime Minister. It is historically affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, however, despite this, the party has reportedly "ostentatiously" praised the King of Morocco, while "loudly insisting that it is in no sense whatsoever a Muslim Brotherhood party"—a development one source (Hussein Ibish), calls evidence of how "regionally discredited the movement has become".
Somalia's wing of the Muslim Brotherhood is known by the name Harakat Al-Islah or "Reform Movement". Nonetheless, the Brotherhood, as mentioned earlier, has inspired many Islamist organizations in Somalia. Muslim Brotherhood ideology reached Somalia in the early 1960s, but Al-Islah movement was formed in 1978 and slowly grew in the 1980s. Al-Islah has been described as "a generally nonviolent and modernizing Islamic movement that emphasizes the reformation and revival of Islam to meet the challenges of the modern world", whose "goal is the establishment of an Islamic state" and which "operates primarily in Mogadishu". The organization structured itself loosely and was not openly visible on the political scene of Somali society.
Until the election of Hamas in Gaza, Sudan was the one country where the Brotherhood was most successful in gaining power, its members making up a large part of the government officialdom following the 1989 coup d'état by General Omar al-Bashir. However, the Sudanese government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated National Islamic Front (NIF) has come under considerable criticism for its human rights policies, links to terrorist groups, and war in southern Sudan and Darfur.
In 1945, a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt visited Sudan and held various meetings inside the country advocating and explaining their ideology. Sudan has a long and deep history with the Muslim Brotherhood compared to many other countries. By April 1949, the first branch of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood organization emerged. However, simultaneously, many Sudanese students studying in Egypt were introduced to the ideology of the Brotherhood. The Muslim student groups also began organizing in the universities during the 1940s, and the Brotherhood's main support base has remained to be college educated. In order to unite them, in 1954, a conference was held, attended by various representatives from different groups that appeared to have the same ideology. The conference voted to establish a Unified Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood Organization based on the teachings of Imam Hassan Al-banna.
An offshoot of the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Charter Front grew during the 1960, with Islamic scholar Hasan al-Turabi becoming its Secretary general in 1964. The Islamic Charter Front (ICM) was renamed several times most recently being called the National Islamic Front (NIF). The Muslim Brotherhood/NIF's main objective in Sudan was to Islamize the society "from above" and to institutionalize the Islamic law throughout the country where they succeeded. To that end the party infiltrated the top echelons of the government where the education of party cadre, frequently acquired in the West, made them "indispensable". This approach was described by Turabi himself as the `jurisprudence of necessity`.
Meeting resistance from non-Islamists, from already established Muslim organisations, and from non-Muslims in the south, the Sudanese NIF government under Turabi and the NIF organized a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government in 1989, organized the Popular Defense Force which committed "widespread, deliberate and systematic atrocities against hundreds of thousands of southern civilians" in the 1990s. The NIF government also employed "widespread arbitrary and extrajudicial arrest, torture, and execution of labor union officials, military officers, journalists, political figures and civil society leaders".
The conservatism of at least some elements of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood was highlighted in an 3 August 2007 Al-Jazeera television interview of Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Sadeq Abdallah bin Al-Majed. As translated by the Israeli-based MEMRI, Bin Al-Majed told his interviewer that "the West, and the Americans in particular ... are behind all the tragedies that are taking place in Darfur", as they "realized that it Darfur is full of treasures"; that "Islam does not permit a non-Muslim to rule over Muslims"; and that he had issued a fatwa prohibiting the vaccination of children, on the grounds that the vaccinations were "a conspiracy of the Jews and Freemasons".
Like their counterparts elsewhere in the Islamic world in general, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has influenced the Tunisian Islamists. One of the notable organization that was influenced and inspired by the Brotherhood is Ennahda (The Revival or Renaissance Party), which is Tunisia's major Islamist political grouping. An Islamist founded the organization in 1981. While studying in Damascus and Paris, Rashid Ghannouchi embraced the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he disseminated on his return to Tunisia.
They were in 1968 affected by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to found the Jamiat-e Islami, while the Hezbi Islami ideologically based on the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (pakistani branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (indian branch of the Jamaat-e-Islami) was founded in 1948. The Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir (kashmiri branch of the Jamaat-e-Islami) was founded in 1953.
Several parties and organizations in Indonesia are linked or at least inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, although none has a formal relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the Muslim Brotherhood linked Parties is PKS (Prosperous Justice Party) with 10% seats in the parliament based on the Indonesian legislative election, 2009. The PKS relationship with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was confirmed by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader. PKS was a member of President SBYs government coalition with 3 ministers in the cabinet.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party was founded in 1951. They have 14 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.
The Adhaalath Party was founded in 2005. They have 1 seat in the Maldivian Parliament. They have been alleged to have participated in a coup that toppled president Mohamed Nasheed.
The Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan was founded in 1941.
The Islamic Renaissance Party was founded in 1990. They had from 2006 to 2015 two seats in the Parliament of Tajikistan. It was banned in 2015.
As affirmed on 14 February 2003 by the decision of the Supreme Court of Russia, the Muslim Brotherhood coordinated the creation of an Islamic organisation called The Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the United Forces of Caucasian Mujahedeen (Russian: Высший военный маджлисуль шура объединённых сил моджахедов Кавказа), led by Ibn Al-Khattab and Basaev; an organisation that committed multiple terror-attack acts in Russia and was allegedly financed by drug trafficking, counterfeiting of coins and racketeering.
According to the above-mention decision of the Supreme Court:
Muslim Brotherhood is an organisation, basing its activities on the ideas of its theorists and leaders Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb with an aim of destruction of non-Islamic governments and the establishment of the worldwide Islamic government by the reconstruction of the "Great Islamic Caliphate"; firstly, in regions with majority of Muslim population, including those in Russia and CIS countries. The organisation is illegal in some Middle East countries (Syria, Jordan). The main forms of activities are warlike Islamism propaganda with intolerance to other religions, recruitment in mosques, armed Jihad without territorial boundaries. The Supreme Court of Russia
In 1996, the first representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, Kamal el-Helbawy, an Egyptian, was able to say that "there are not many members here, but many Muslims in the UK intellectually support the aims of the Muslim Brotherhood".
In September 1999, the Muslim Brotherhood opened a "global information centre" in London.
In April 2014, David Cameron, the UK prime minister, launched an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood's activities in the UK and its alleged extremist activities. Egypt welcomed the decision. After Cameron's decision, the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly moved its headquarters from London to Austria attempting to avoid the investigation. The Brotherhood took the matter to court which decided that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization and no legal actions were taken against the Brotherhood.
According to The Washington Post, U.S. Muslim Brotherhood supporters "make up the U.S. Islamic community's most organized force" by running hundreds of mosques and business ventures, promoting civic activities, and setting up American Islamic organizations to defend and promote Islam. In 1963, the U.S. chapter of Muslim Brotherhood was started by activists involved with the Muslim Students Association (MSA). U.S. supporters of the Brotherhood also started other organizations including: Council on American–Islamic Relations North American Islamic Trust in 1971, the Islamic Society of North America in 1981, the American Muslim Council in 1990, the Muslim American Society in 1992 and the International Institute of Islamic Thought in the 1980s. In addition, according to An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, the "Understanding of the Role of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America", and the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America is identified as the following:
"Establishing an effective and a stable Islamic movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims' causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims' efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic state wherever it is".
During the Holy Land Foundation trial (which led to a conviction for sending funds to Hamas in 2008), several documents surfaced incriminating the Brotherhood in subversive activities. One (dated 1991) outlined a strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States that involved “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within”.
In another, "Ikhwan in America" (Brotherhood in America), the author alleges that the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US include going to camps to do weapons training (referred to as Special work by the Muslim Brotherhood), as well as engaging in counter-espionage against US government agencies such as the FBI and CIA (referred to as Securing the Group). The documents have been widely publicized in American conservative circles.
U.S. Congress attempts to pass legislation that criminalizes the group has been put forward by the 114th Congress, and been highly debated legislation. The Bill, called the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015, was introduced to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). In it the bill states that the Department of State should designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, as it has met the necessary criteria of being a foreign terrorist organization. If passed, the bill would require the State Department to report to Congress within 60 days whether or not the group fits the criteria, and if it does not, to state which specific criteria it had not met. Senator Cruz announced the legislation along with Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) in November of 2015.
This bill came after a handful of foreign countries made similar moves in recent years including Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others, and after, according to Cruz, recent evidence emerged suggesting that the group supports terrorism. Some of these countries have even gone so far as to pull their ambassadors from Qatar, a state that has consistently been a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. The senator reiterated that the group’s stated goal is to wage violent jihad against its enemies, which includes the Unite States, and the fact that the Obama administration has listed numerous group members on its terrorist sanctions list. This bill was brought to shut down ideas that the Muslim Brotherhood is simply a political entity separate apart from its violent acts.
The bill identifies three Muslim Brotherhood entities in the U.S. including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a renowned non-profit group that has already been denounced by the UAE for its MB ties. This group is regarded by the Egyptian government as a Brotherhood lobby in the United States. The other two entities are the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).
Conservatives in the Congress believe that the group has been the main breeding ground for radical Islam. Previous attempts were made in the previous year by Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), but it failed largely due to his allegations against Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s aide, of having links to the organization, allegations that were condemned by both Democrats and Republicans alike.
In February of 2016, the House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation in a 17 to 10 vote, which if enacted could increase grounds for enforcing criminal penalties and give permission to the Secretary of Treasury to block financial transactions and freeze assets of anyone who has showed material support for the group. Scholars against this classification claim that the group simply promotes Islamism, or the belief that society should be governed according to Islamic values and Sharia law.
The Obama administration has been hesitant to label the group as a terrorist organization, possibly because its allies support them. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) stated that the Brotherhood’s jihadist movement finances terrorist networks globally, specifically al-Qaeda and Hamas as decedents of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, both groups who have received support from Middle East States such as Qatar and Turkey. White House resistance to the bill is unusual, considering the U.S. has already designated the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing as a whole, that wing being Hamas. Qatar has garnered a reputation of being one of the only Gulf States to continually work closely with the Muslim Brotherhood and its institutions. Despite knowledge of this funding, as exposed through Hillary Clinton’s emails, the Obama administration refuses to place forceful measures on the gulf state nor denounce the group. In fact in his foreign policy efforts in Libya, Obama had secretly endorsed a Qatari weapons smuggling operation to Libyan Jihadists, which the White House believed was moderate Islamic militant group. In addition to supporting the stay of controversial Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Morsi, in power, the Obama and Clinton operations to oppose Qaddafi in Libya was in support of Muslim Brotherhood taking control of Libya through the transfer of weapons through Qatar to the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood Group and their Libyan Al Qaeda faction.
Coptic Christians took to the White House to Protest the passing of the bill in April, stating that Obama’s lax stance on the group was unacceptable, especially considering the amount cases of torture by the regime when in power (359), as well as the destruction of Coptic homes, businesses, and churches (1,000), and numerous cases of violence against the Coptic community in Egypt.
The Brotherhood was criticised by Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2007 for its refusal to advocate the violent overthrow of the Mubarak government. Issam al-Aryan, a top Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figure, denounced the al-Qaeda leader: "Zawahiri's policy and preaching bore dangerous fruit and had a negative impact on Islam and Islamic movements across the world".
Dubai police chief, Dhahi Khalfan, accused Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood of an alleged plot to overthrow the UAE government. He referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as "dictators" who want "Islamist rule in all the Gulf States".
Numerous officials and reporters question the sincerity of the Muslim Brotherhood's pronouncements. These critics include, but are not limited to:
- Juan Zarate, former U.S. White House counterterrorism chief (quoted in the conservative publication, FrontPage Magazine): "The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians".
- Miles Axe Copeland, Jr., a prominent U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative who was one of the founding members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) under William Donovan, divulged the confessions of numerous members of the Muslim Brotherhood. These confessions resulted from the harsh interrogations done against them by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, for their alleged involvement in the assassination attempt made against Nasser (an assassination attempt that many believe was staged by Nasser himself). They revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood was merely a "guild" that fulfilled the goals of western interests: "Nor was that all. Sound beatings of the Moslem Brotherhood organizers who had been arrested revealed that the organization had been thoroughly penetrated, at the top, by the British, American, French and Soviet intelligence services, any one of which could either make active use of it or blow it up, whichever best suited its purposes. Important lesson: fanaticism is no insurance against corruption; indeed, the two are highly compatible".
- Former U.S. Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross, who told Asharq Alawsat newspaper that the Muslim Brotherhood is a global, not a local organization, governed by a Shura (Consultative) Council, which rejects cessation of violence in Israel, and supports violence to achieve its political objectives elsewhere too.
- The Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood organization was the cause of most problems in the Arab world. 'The Brotherhood has done great damage to Saudi Arabia', he said. Prince Naif accused the foremost Islamist group in the Arab world of harming the interests of Muslims. 'All our problems come from the Muslim Brotherhood. We have given too much support to this group..." "The Muslim Brotherhood has destroyed the Arab world', he said. 'Whenever they got into difficulty or found their freedom restricted in their own countries, Brotherhood activists found refuge in the Kingdom which protected their lives... But they later turned against the Kingdom...' The Muslim Brotherhood has links to groups across the Arab world, including Jordan's main parliamentary opposition, the 'Islamic Action Front', and the 'Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas'". The Interior Minister's outburst against the Brotherhood came amid mounting criticism in the United States of Saudi Arabia's longstanding support for Islamist groups around the world..."
- Sarah Mousa of Aljazeera reported on the Muslim Brotherhood’s highly improbable claim that opposition leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Mohammad ElBaradei (who has a had a "rocky" relationship with the US) was "an American agent", and observed that the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Parliament’s support of the slander demonstrated a lack of commitment to democracy.
- Scholar Carrie Rosefsky Wickham finds official Brotherhood documents ambiguous on the issue of democracy: "This raises the question of whether the Brotherhood is supporting a transition to democracy as an end in itself or as a first step toward the ultimate establishment of a political system based not on the preferences of the Egyptian people but the will of God as they understand it".
Status of non-Muslims
- In 1997 Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mustafa Mashhur told journalist Khalid Daoud that he thought Egypt's Coptic Christians and Orthodox Jews should pay the long-abandoned jizya poll tax, levied on non-Muslims in exchange for protection from the state, rationalized by the fact that non-Muslims are exempt from military service while it is compulsory for Muslims. He went on to say, "we do not mind having Christian members in the People's Assembly... [T]he top officials, especially in the army, should be Muslims since we are a Muslim country... This is necessary because when a Christian country attacks the Muslim country and the army has Christian elements, they can facilitate our defeat by the enemy". According to The Guardian newspaper, the proposal caused an "uproar" among Egypt's six million Coptic Christians and "the movement later backtracked".
Response to criticisms
According to authors writing in the Council on Foreign Relations magazine Foreign Affairs: "At various times in its history, the group has used or supported violence and has been repeatedly banned in Egypt for attempting to overthrow Cairo's secular government. Since the 1970s, however, the Egyptian Brotherhood has disavowed violence and sought to participate in Egyptian politics". Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor, called it "conservative and non-violent"; The Brotherhood has condemned terrorism and the 9/11 attacks.
The Brotherhood itself denounces the "catchy and effective terms and phrases" like "fundamentalist" and "political Islam" which it claims are used by "Western Media" to pigeonhole the group, and points to its "15 Principles" for an Egyptian National Charter, including "freedom of personal conviction ... opinion ... forming political parties ... public gatherings ... free and fair elections ..."
Similarly, some analysts maintain that whatever the source of modern Jihadi terrorism and the actions and words of some rogue members, the Brotherhood now has little in common with radical Islamists and modern jihadists who often condemn the Brotherhood as too moderate. They also deny the existence of any centralized and secretive global Muslim Brotherhood leadership. Some claim that the origins of modern Muslim terrorism are found in Wahhabi ideology, not that of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to anthropologist Scott Atran, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood even in Egypt has been overstated by Western commentators. He estimates that it can count on only 100,000 militants (out of some 600,000 dues paying members) in a population of more than 80 million, and that such support as it does have among Egyptians—an often cited figure is 20 percent to 30 percent—is less a matter of true attachment than an accident of circumstance: secular opposition groups that might have countered it were suppressed for many decades, but in driving the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, a more youthful constellation of secular movements has emerged to threaten the Muslim Brotherhood's dominance of the political opposition. This has not yet been the case, however, as evidenced by the Brotherhood's strong showing in national elections. Polls also indicate that a majority of Egyptians and other Arab nations endorse laws based on "Sharia".
On 29 June 2011, as the Brotherhood's political power became more apparent and solidified following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the United States announced that it would reopen formal diplomatic channels with the group, with whom it had suspended communication as a result of suspected terrorist activity. The next day, the Brotherhood's leadership announced that they welcomed the diplomatic overture.
In September 2014, Brotherhood leaders were expelled from Qatar. The New York Times reported: "Although the Brotherhood’s views are not nearly as conservative as the puritanical, authoritarian version of Islamic law enforced in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis and other gulf monarchies fear the group because of its broad organization, its mainstream appeal and its calls for elections".
Designation as a terrorist organization
Countries and organizations below have officially listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
|Russia||12 February 2003|||
|Syria||21 October 2013|||
|Egypt||25 December 2013|||
|Saudi Arabia||7 March 2014|||
|Bahrain||21 March 2014|||
|United Arab Emirates||15 November 2014|||
Outside the Middle East
In February 2003, the Supreme Court of Russia banned the Muslim Brotherhood, labelling it as a terrorist organization, and accusing the group of supporting Islamist rebels who want to create an Islamic state in the North Caucasus.
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- Politics of Egypt
- List of designated terrorist organizations
- Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani
- Sayyid Qutb
- Hassan al-Banna
- Yusuf al-Qaradawi
- Kevin Borgeson; Robin Valeri (9 July 2009). Terrorism in America. Jones and Bartlett Learning. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-7637-5524-9. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "The Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian State in the Balance of Democracy". Metransparent. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Islamic Terrorism's Links To Nazi Fascism". Aina. 5 July 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is not to be trusted". Old Post-gazette. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- U.S. Department of State. "Chapter 6 -- Terrorist Organizations". Country Reports on Terrorism. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- Ghattas, Kim (9 February 2001). "Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood". BBC.
- "Bahrain News Agency - Bahrain backs Saudi Arabia, UAE, Foreign Minister says". Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- Anadolu Ajansı (c) 2011. "Bahrain FM reiterates stance on Muslim Brotherhood". Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood declared 'terrorist group'". Bbc.co.uk. 25 December 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- "Resolution of the State Duma, 2 December 2003 N 3624-III GD "on the Application of the State Duma of the Russian Federation" on the suppression of the activities of terrorist organizations on the territory of the Russian Federation" (in Russian). Consultant Plus.
- "Saudi Arabia declares Muslim Brotherhood 'terrorist group'". BBC. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
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citing Sylvain Besson, La Conquête De L'Occident: Le Projet Secret Des Islamistes
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- article printed in Al Ahram Weekly 5–9 July 1997, quoted in Passion for Islam: Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience by Caryle Murphy, pp. 241, 330.
- Passion for Islam: Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience, by Caryle Murphy, Simon and Schuster, 2002, pp. 241, 330.
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- Want Shariah, End of Israel Treaty, Pew Poll Shows date: 26 April 2011
- Arab Women As Likely As Men To Support Islamic Law In Middle East After Arab Spring, Says Survey. Huffington Post, 25 June 2012
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Muslim Brotherhood|
- Media related to Muslim Brotherhood at Wikimedia Commons
- Ikhwan Web official site
- "Revolution in Cairo: Interview with Shadi Hamid". Frontline. PBS. Feb 2011.
- "Egyptian democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood" European Union Institute for Security Studies
- Counter Extremism Project profile
- Muslim Brotherhood Special Report
- Muslim Brotherhood Review: Written statement by David Cameron
- Trager, Eric (September–October 2011). "The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood: Grim Prospects for a Liberal Egypt". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 3 August 2016.