"Muslim Brotherhood" facing troubled times

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Egyptian flag.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Sunni Muslim political group, and also an influential Egyptian association, has been under pressure from the Egyptian government. Founded in 1928 in Egypt, the Brotherhood grew to approximately 2 million strong in the 1940s. Soon the Brotherhood was at odds with the government, and one of their members even assassinated the prime minister. Soon after the Brotherhood founder and leader Hassan al-Banna was assassinated, possibly by a government agent.

Tensions with the government have not eased in succeeding years. Although the Brotherhood shuns terrorist violence, it also promotes Jihad. Tensions with the government also arise from the Brotherhood's support of labor rights and political freedom. The brotherhood is at times critical of the government. The Muslim Brotherhood currently participates in the government; even though they are adversarial towards it, they are the largest opposition party, with 20% of Parliament. However, the Brotherhood has been officially banned for much of the time since 1954, so all of its political members are forced to run as independents.

Recently the Egyptian government has resumed suppression of many Brotherhood activities. As many as 600 Brotherhood members have been arrested since it began. As many as four are believed to have been kidnapped or murdered, as the government had not announced their arrests until recently. The Egyptian government has even arrested 6 members of Parliament.

The Brotherhood is on the defensive on all of this. Regarding 4 of the members of parliament imprisoned the Brotherhood lawyer has said, "But they had nothing at all to do with this mess ... and the people questioning them know this, they're certain of this." The Economist speculates that the reason for this recent crackdown by the government is to create a more accepting climate for the rumored inauguration of the current president's son, Gamal Mubarak.