In media coverage of the ongoing protests rocking Egypt, the phrase “Muslim Brotherhood” has cropped up more than once. Who is this group, and what role are they playing in the protests?
The Muslim Brotherhood, also known as Ikhwan, is an officially illegal Islamist opposition party that has been suppressed in Egypt since Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government took control in 1952. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has “alternatively repressed and demonized the Brotherhood or tolerated it as an anti-communist and right-wing opposition,” according to Bruce Riedel of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
Founded in 1928 in Egypt, Foreign Affairs describes the group as “the world’s oldest, largest, and most influential Islamist organization.” The group has earned itself enemies on both ends of the political spectrum: from jihadists due to their belief in democracy and from Western nations due to their critical stance on American foreign policy. According to the group’s English language website, the group was founded in order to achieve “the independence of the Muslim land from foreign domination, and the establishment of an Islamic sociopolitical system (unitiy of ummah).”