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Muslim Brotherhood

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Title: Muslim Brotherhood  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Egyptian presidential election, 2012, August 2013, Timeline of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Sayyid Qutb, 2012–13 Egyptian protests
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Muslim Brotherhood

Society of the Muslim Brothers
Leader Mohammed Badie (currently arrested)
Mahmmoud Ezzat (acting)
Spokesperson Gehad el-Haddad
Founded 1928
Ismailia, Egypt
Headquarters Cairo, Egypt
Ideology Islamism
Islamic democracy
Political position Right wing

The Society of the Muslim Brothers ([16][17] Its top leader is on record as saying that the group "condemns violence and violent acts".[18]

The Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the "sole reference point for ... ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community ... and state."[19] The movement officially renounced political violence in 1949, after a period of considerable political tension which ended in the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha by a young veterinary student who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.[20][21][22]

The Muslim Brotherhood is financed by contributions from its members, who are required to allocate a portion of their income to the movement. Some of these contributions are from members who work in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich countries.[23]

The Muslim Brotherhood started as a religious social organization: preaching Islam, teaching the illiterate, setting up hospitals and even launching commercial enterprises. As its influence grew, it began to oppose British rule in Egypt, starting in 1936.[24] Many Egyptian nationalists accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of violent killings during this period.[25] After the Arab defeat in the [24] The Muslim Brotherhood supported the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, but after being implicated in an attempted assassination of Egypt's president it was once again banned and repressed.[26] The Muslim Brotherhood has been suppressed in other countries as well, most notably in Syria in 1982 during the Hama massacre.[27]

The severe crackdown.[30] On 25 December 2013, the interim Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group as a response to an attack on a police headquarters in Mansoura on 23 December 2013.[12] The same day, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based group, declared responsibility for the bombing;[31][32]


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".[33]

According to a spokesman, the Muslim Brotherhood believe in reform, democracy, freedom of assembly, press, etc.

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.[34]

Its founder, 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 Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam's manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.[37] The Brotherhood strongly opposes Western colonialism, and preaches that Islam will bring social justice, the eradication of poverty and corruption, 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 ... "[38]

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 newly created 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.[39]

There are breakaway groups from the movement, including the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya and Al Takfir Wal Hijra.[40] Prominent figures of the Brotherhood include Sayyid Qutb, a highly influential extremist and anti-Semitic thinker of Islamic supremacism, and the author of Milestones.[41] Osama bin Laden criticized the Brotherhood, and accused it of betraying jihad and the ideals of Qutb.[42][43]


The Brotherhood's "most frequently used slogan" (according to the BBC) is "Islam is the Solution" (الإسلام هو الحل).[44] Another well known slogan is "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu akbar!"[45][46] 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).[47]


Protesters hold a poster of ousted Egyptian President Morsi, Cairo, September 20, 2013

From the Transcripts[48] the following hierarchical Organisation structure can be derived:

  • The Shura Council has the duties of planning, charting general policies and programs that achieve the goal of the Group. 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.[49]
  • Executive Office (Guidance Office) with its leader the General Masul (General Guide) and its members, both appointed by the Shura Office, has to follow up and guide the activities of the General Organisation. It submits a periodical report to the Shura Council about its work and of the activity of the domestic bodies and the general organisations. It distributes its duties to its members according to the internal by-laws.

It has the following divisions (not complete): – Executive leadership – Organizational office – Secretariat general – Educational office – Political office – Sisters office

The Muslim Brotherhood aimed to build a 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 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 has. To the duties of every branch belong fundraising, infiltrating and overtaking other Muslim organisations for the sake of uniting the Muslims to dedicate them to the general goals of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Egypt


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.[50] 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.[51] 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.[38] The Brotherhood grew rapidly going from 800 members in 1936, to 200,000 by 1938 and 500,000 in 1948.

Post–World War II

Muslim Brotherhood fighters in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War

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.[52] At this time the Brotherhood was estimated to have 2000 branches and 500,000 members or sympathizers.[53] 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.[54]

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.[55] 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.[56]

In the 1970s after the death of Nasser and under the new President (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.[58] 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."[59] It also developed a significant movement online.[60][61]

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.[62]

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,[62] 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".[62][63]

But fears remained about its commitment to democracy, equal rights, and freedom of expression and belief—or lack thereof.[64] 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'".[65] 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.[66] 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."[67]

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,[68] 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."[69]

2011 revolution and after

Following the 2011 Egyptian revolution and fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood was legalized[70] and was at first very successful, dominating the 2011 parliamentary election and winning the 2012 presidential election, before the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi a year later, and cracked down on the Brotherhood again.

On 30 April 2011, it 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.[71][72] The party rejected the "candidacy of women or Copts for Egypt's presidency", but not for cabinet positions.[73]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, May 2013

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.[74] Some high level supporters[75][76] and former Brotherhood officials[77] have reiterated hostility toward Zionism,[78] although during his campaign Morsi himself promised to stand for peaceful relations with Israel.[79]

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.[80][81] He also put a draft constitution to a referendum that opponents complained was "an Islamist coup."[82] These issues[83]—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,[84] and the seeming impunity given to Islamist radical attacks on Christians and other minorities[85]—brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets starting in November 2012.[86][87]

By April 2013, Egypt had "become increasingly divided" between President Mohammed 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".[88] Adding to the unrest were severe fuel shortages and electricity outages—which evidence suggests were the result of Morsi's mismanagement of the economy.[89]

On 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi was arrested and detained by the military, following a popular uprising of millions of Egyptians[85][90][91][92][93] demanding the resignation of Morsi. There were also limited counter-protests in support of Morsi.[94]

Bodies of Morsi supporters killed in clashes with security forces in Cairo, 27 July 2013

On 14 August, the military declared a month-long state of emergency and commenced Mansoura,which the government blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, despite no evidence and a Sinai based terror group claiming responsibility for the attack.[105]

On 24 March 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death.[106] By May 2014, approximately 16,000 people (and as high as more than 40,000 by one independent count),[107] mostly Brotherhood members or supporters, have been imprisoned since the coup.[108]

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."[109]


Before and during its time in power, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) and its allied Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) were the subjects of controversy, which continued after the July 2013 military coup. Many attempts to undermine the organization began following the strong performance of Muslim Brotherhood allied MPs during the 2005 parliamentary elections, when the Mubarak regime’s state media called the Brotherhood secretive and illegal.[110] These controversies would continue during Morsi’s time in power. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood took a number of steps that were very controversial, and also acquiesced to or supported crackdowns by the military during Morsi’s presidency.[111]

During the Muslim Brotherhood’s time in power, oftentimes the organization’s actions appeared to play into the negative stereotypes that many Egyptians had of the organization. For example, before the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters appeared at a protest at Al-Azhar University wearing military style fatigues, and the Mubarak regime criticized the organization for starting an underground militia.[112] During its time in power, the Muslim Brotherhood did indeed try to establish armed groups of supporters and sought official permission for its members to be armed.[113] Therefore, many of the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood contributed to the image that critics of the organization were trying to convey. However, it should also be noted that there was significant media coverage from stations such as OnTv that could be argued to have been part of a significant effort – whether coordinated or uncoordinated – to vilify the organization.[114]

General leaders

Mohammed Badie, the current leader

In West Asia


In Bahrain, the Muslim Brotherhood is 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 on the grounds that this would give Muslim citizens the right to change religion, when in the party's view they should be "beheaded".[115]

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.[116]

In 2010, the U.S. government sponsored the visit of Al-Jowder, described as a prominent Sunni cleric, to the United States for a three-week interfaith dialogue program in several cities.[117][118]


The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria was founded in the 1930s (according to 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 Baath Party to power it was banned.[119] It played a major role in the mainly Sunni-based movement that opposed the secularist, pan-Arabist Baath 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.[120]

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.[121]

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.[122] But by 2013 another source described it as having "virtually no influence on the conflict".[123] Syrian President Bashar 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."[124]


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.[125] 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.[125] Abu Qura originally brought the Brotherhood to Jordan from Egypt after extensive study and spread of the teachings of Imam Hasan al-Banna.[125] While most political parties and movements were banned for a long time in Jordan such as [127]

The Jordanian Brotherhood has formed its own political party, the Islamic Action Front, which has the largest number of seats of any party in the Jordanian parliament.[128] 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 (Rummam).

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.[129]

As of late 2013, the movement in Jordan was described as being in "disarray".[130] 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 regimes in the region which they did not agree with.[131]


Although Iran is a predominately Shia Muslim country and the Muslim Brotherhood is Sunni in doctrine, Olga Davidson and Mohammad Mahallati claim the Brotherhood has had influence among Shia in Iran.[132] [133] 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.[134]

At that time Navab Safavi was now based in the UK where associates and allies of Ayatollah Khomeini who went on to become a figure in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.[134] Khomeini and other religious figures in Iran worked to establish Islamic unity and downplay Shia-Sunni differences.


The Iraqi Islamic Party was formed in 1960 as the Iraqi branch of the Brotherhood,[135] 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 regime 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.[136] 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) holds seats in the Kurdish parliament, and is the main political force outside the dominance of the two main secularist parties, the PUK and KDP.[137]

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

'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.[138] 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.[139] 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 to 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, which was in control of the West Bank after 1950. In contrast, the group frequently clashed with the Egyptian regime that controlled the Gaza Strip until 1967.[140]

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.[141] Eventually, however, the Brotherhood was strengthened by several factors:

  1. 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.
  2. The Muslim Brotherhood Society in Jordan and Palestine was created from a merger of the branches in the West Bank and Gaza and Jordan.
  3. Palestinian disillusion with the Palestinian militant groups caused them to become more open to alternatives.
  4. 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.[142]

After the 1967 [143]

In 1987, following the Intifada, the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas[142][146] 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.[147] 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.[123]

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia helped the Brotherhood financially for "over half a century",[23][148] but the two became estranged during the Gulf War, and enemies after the election of Muhammad Morsi. Inside the kingdom, the MB was called a group whose "many quiet supporters" made it "one of the few potential threats" to the royal family's control, before the crushing of the Egyptian MB.[149]

The brotherhood first had an impact inside Saudi Arabia in 1954 when thousands of Egyptian brethren sought to escape president Gamal Abdun-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.[150] The Muslim Brotherhood's brand of Islam and Islamic politics differs from the strict [152] (no political groups or parties are allowed to operate openly[148]), MB members became "entrenched both in Saudi society and in the Saudi state, taking a leading role in key governmental ministries".[153] 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.[154]

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.[153] The Brotherhood supported the Sahwah "Awakening" movement that pushed for political change in the Kingdom.[155] 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".[23] The ruling family was also alarmed by the Arab Spring and the example set by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, with president Muhammad Morsi bringing an Islamist government to power by means of popular revolution and elections.[156] 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.[153]

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.”[153]


The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait is represented in the Kuwaiti parliament by Hadas.[157][158]


The Muslim Brotherhood is the political arm of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, commonly known as Islah. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a lot of effort to entrench the accusations of being in league with Al Qaeda, but he failed to present any, even a weak, evidence to support his claims.[159]

Elsewhere in Africa


The Justice and Development Party was the largest vote-getter in Morocco's 2011 election, and as of October 2013, held the office of Prime Minister.[28] It is historically affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,[160] 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"[28]—a development one source (Hussein Ibish), calls evidence of how "regionally discredited the movement has become."


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 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.


Until the election of Hamas in Gaza, Sudan was the one country were 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 Hassan al-Bashir.

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

The Brotherhood penetrated into the ruling political organizations, the state army and security personal, the national and regional assemblies of Sudan. They also launched their own mass organizations among the youth and women such as the shabab al-binna, and raidat al-nahda, and launched educational campaigns to Islamize the communities throughout the country. At the same time, they gained control of several newly founded Islamic missionary and relief organizations to spread their ideology. The Brotherhood members took control of the newly established Islamic Banks as directors, administrators, employees and legal advisors, which became a source of power for the Brotherhood.

The Sudanese government has come under considerable criticism for its human rights policies, links to terrorist groups, and war in southern Sudan and Darfur.

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".[161]


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".[162]

The founders of the Islah Movement are: Sh. Mohamed Ahmed Nur, Dr. Ali Sheikh Ahmed, Dr. Mohamed Yusuf Abdi, Sh. Ahmed Rashid Hanafi, and Sh. Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah. The organization structured itself loosely and was not openly visible on the political scene of Somali society.

They chose to remain a secret movement fearing the repressive regime of Siad Barre but are considered the first ever opposition to the dictatorship. However, they emerged from secrecy when the regime collapsed in 1991 and started working openly thereafter. Most Somalis were surprised to see the new group they had never heard of, which was in the country since the 1970s in secrecy.

According to the Islah by-law, every five years the organization has to elect its Consultative (Shura) Council which elects the chairman and the two Vice-chairman. During the last 30 years, four chairmen were elected. These are Sheikh Mohamed Geryare (1978–1990), Dr. Mohamed Ali Ibrahim (1990–1999), Dr. Ali Sheikh Ahmed (1999–2008) and Dr. Ali Bashi Omar Roraye (2008–2013).

Dr. Ali Bashi is a medical doctor, a former university professor and a member of the transitional parliament (2000–2008). During the 1990s, Al-Islah devoted much effort to humanitarian efforts and providing free basic social services.

The leaders of Al-Islah played a key role in the educational network and establishing Mogadishu University. Through their network, they educate more than 120,000 students in the city of Mogadishu. Many other secondary schools such as the University of East Africa in Bosasso, Puntland, are externally funded and administered through organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic organization Al-Islah.[162] In Somalia, they are known to be a peaceful organization that does not participate in any factional fighting and rejects the use of violence.

Today the group's membership includes urban professionals and students. According to a Crisis Group Report, Somalia's Islamists, "Al-Islah organization is dominated by a highly educated urban elite whose professional, middle class status and extensive expatriate experiences are alien to most Somalis."

Although Al-Islah have been criticized by some hardcore Islamists who considered them to be influenced by imperialist western values, Al-Islah speaks of democratic peaceful Somalia. They promote women's rights, human rights, and other ideas, which they argue that these concepts originate from Islamic concepts. Al-Islah is gaining momentum in the Somali societies for their humanitarian work and moderate view of Islam, which is compatible to modernisation and respect of human rights. Currently, Islah initiated to establish political party under the name of Justice and Unity Party which is open for all citizens of Somalia.


Like their counterparts elsewhere in the Islamic world in general, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has influenced the 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.


The Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1949, but it was not able to operate openly until after the 2011 Libyan Civil War. It 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.[163][164]

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.[165] 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.[166][167] A JCP Congressman, Saleh Essaleh is also the vice speaker of the General National Congress.[168]


Changes to the demographic and political makeup of Mauritania in the 1970s heavily contributed to the growth of Islamism within Mauritanian society. Periods of [169]

There was increased activism relating to the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s, partially driven by members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[169]

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.[169]

Other states

Russian Federation

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Russia as a [170]

As affirmed on 14 February 2003 by the decision of the [170]

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[170]

United States

According to 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.[23] 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." Ikhwan meaning brothers or brotherhood.[172][173]

United Kingdom

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, United Kingdom's prime minister, launched an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood's activities in the UK and its alleged extremism activities.[174] Egypt welcomed the decision. After Cameron's decision, the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly moved its headquarters from London to Austria attempting to avoid the investigation.[175]


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.[176] PKS was a member of President SBYs government coalition with 3 ministers in the cabinet.


The Brotherhood was criticised by Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2007 for its refusal to advocate the violent overthrow of the Mubarak regime. 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."[177]

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".[178]


See also: Jihad

Numerous officials and reporters question the sincerity of the Muslim Brotherhood's pronouncements. These critics include, but are not limited to:

  • According to FrontPage Magazine, a conservative publication, former U.S. White House counterterrorism chief Juan Zarate said: "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."[179][180]
  • Former U.S. Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross, who told [183]
  • The Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Naif Ibn Abdul Aziz has stated 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..."[184]
  • Aljazeera reported on the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to slander opposition leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Mohammad ElBaradei as "an American agent", and observed that the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Parliament’s support of the slander demonstrated a lack of commitment to democracy.[185]

Status of non-Muslims

  • In 1997 Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mustafa Mashhur told journalist Khalid Daoud[186] 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."[187] According to The Guardian newspaper, the proposal caused an "uproar" among Egypt's six million Coptic Christians and "the movement later backtracked."[188]

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."[189] Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor, called it "conservative and non-violent";[190] The Brotherhood has condemned terrorism and the 9/11 attacks.[191][192]

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 ..."[33]

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.[193] Some claim that the origins of modern Muslim terrorism are found in Wahhabi ideology, not that of the Muslim Brotherhood.[194][195]

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.[196] 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".[197][198]

Foreign relations

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.[199]

In September 2014, Brotherhood leaders have been expelled from [200]

Designation as a terrorist organization

Countries and organizations below have officially listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Country Date References
 Russia 12 February 2003 [201][202]
 Syria 21 October 2013 [203]
 Egypt 25 December 2013 [204][205]
 Saudi Arabia 7 March 2014 [206]
 United Arab Emirates 15 November 2014 [15]

Outside the Middle East

On February 2003, the Islamic state in the North Caucasus.[207][208]

In media

See also


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