The Metamorphoses of the Muslim Brotherhood

To comprehend the current role and position of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, rather than focusing only on its present-day form and the general policies of this movement, we must take a closer look at the historical evolution of this organization. One will then realize that the Muslim Brotherhood is not an entity that could be easily defined and described and moreover, put into one clear-cut category – which is exactly what many current commentators tend to do.

Yet, it is this latter image of the Brotherhood that is so often highlighted by its opponents and, in general, by critics of the Arab Spring movement and its accompanying phenomenon, the rise of political Islam. During the reigns of Presidents Sadat and Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood underwent significant changes and experienced shifts and splits. What’s more, there are even significant differences between the Muslim Brotherhood during the regimes of President Mubarak and the current President Mursi. Similarly, the offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood in countries across the region outside Egypt are not interchangeable with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and their policies are often independent from their Egyptian ‘mother organization’. In this context, probably the most frequently mentioned is Palestinian Hamas, which openly describes itself as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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