February 7, 2011

THEY WERE CONTESTING ELECTIONS BEFORE IT WAS COOL:

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is a force the world can no longer afford to ignore: Islamist movement has evolved and expresses readiness to work within a democratic framework (Ian Black, 2/07/11, guardian.co.uk)

The Brotherhood – or Ikhwan as it is known in Arabic – boycotted last year's rigged elections. Since then it has again seen its offices closed down and leaders harassed, arrested and released in a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. In 2010, 6,000 activists were detained.

Like other Islamist movements, its popularity is based on a reputation for not being corrupt and charity work in clinics, nurseries and after-school tutoring. Volunteers fill gaps left by a state that has seen illiteracy rise and services fail as liberal economic reforms enriched businesses close to the regime. It is known for its ability to mobilise supporters.

In 2006 Suleiman, then Mubarak's intelligence chief, described the Brotherhood as "neither a religious organisation, nor a social organisation, nor a political party, but a combination of all three" – though the regime exaggerated its importance to present itself as a bulwark against extremism.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 7, 2011 7:15 AM
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