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Revolution in Cairo

Inside the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt's sleeping giant has awoken. But what path will it follow now? Here are some readings that offer insight and analysis on who the Muslim Brotherhood are -- and what they want.



  • Shadi HamidShadi Hamid Director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, he says the Muslim Brotherhood functions as "state within a state" in some ways, but does not have a clear vision of what it wants for Egypt. Hamid argues that the U.S. has to learn to live with political Islam, and should start engaging with the Brotherhood now.
  • Amr HamzawyAmr Hamzawy An expert on Arab political movements, he is research director and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut. Here, he outlines the tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood's old and new guard, and describes the challenges the group faces as it tries to gain political power in the post-Mubarak era.
  • Heba MorayefHeba Morayef She investigates human right abuses in Egypt and Libya with Human Rights Watch, and says she's encountered the Muslim Brotherhood both as victims of human rights abuses as well as promoters of discrimination inconsistent with international human rights law.

Reporting and Analysis

  • Inside the Muslim Brotherhood Here is Revolution in Cairo correspondent Charles M. Sennott's two-part GlobalPost report chronicling his journey to investigate the Muslim Brotherhood's role in Egypt's revolution. His collected dispatches from the field can be found here and you can read more of his reporting on at his blog GroundTruth. (Feb. 21, 2010)
  • Egypt Revolution Unfinished, Qaradawi Tells Tahrir Masses The Christian Science Monitor's Dan Murphy reports on a Feb. 18 sermon in Tahrir Square by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood. "While his sermon was nonsectarian and broadly political, the turnout was also a reminder that political Islam is likely to play a larger role in Egypt than it has for decades," writes Murphy. (Feb. 18, 2011)
  • 'Brothers' in Egypt Present Two Faces The Wall Street Journal looks at different factions within the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly the newer, younger faces that have emerged from Egypt's protests, comparing the clout of these more moderate voices that mesh with Western values against the conservative, anti-Western old guard that makes up much of the Brotherhood's leadership. (Feb. 15, 2011)
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Faces Prospect of Democracy Amid Internal Discord The Washington Post explores the implications of a more open and democratic Egyptian political landscape on the Brotherhood, and the group's prospects for forming a political party. (Feb. 21, 2011)
  • Meet Radical Islam's Tech Guru Sarah Topol hones in on the Muslim Brotherhood's burgeoning Web presence for The Daily Beast and shows how its younger, media-savvy members and supporters are using their own news sites, social media networks and Twitter feeds to spread their message. (Dec. 26, 2010)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak "Although the Brotherhood entered the political system in order to change it, it ended up being changed by the system," writes Carrie Rosefsky Wickham in Foreign Affairs. She profiles the Brotherhood's evolution over time into a pragmatic, savvy and cautious opposition group and argues that no democratic transition can succeed without its inclusion in the political process. (Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood This succinct backgrounder from the Council on Foreign Relations looks at the Muslim Brotherhood's history of violence, its shift toward more pragmatic politics and its aspirations towards an Islamic state. It also explores select views on the Brotherhood's implications for U.S. strategic interests. (Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Between Politics and Piety: Social Services and the Muslim Brotherhood Beyond its political wing, the Muslim Brotherhood has garnered support among Egypt's population for its decades of experience providing social services to the poor. In 2009, as a graduate student, Nadine Farag researched public health in Cairo's slums -- here's her first-hand account of what she saw. (Feb. 22, 2011)

How Should the U.S. Engage With the Brotherhood?

  • Democracy Supporters Should Not Fear the Muslim Brotherhood "Contrary to fear-mongering reports, the West and the Muslim Brotherhood are not enemies," writes Abdel Moenim Abou el-Fotouh, a former member of the Brotherhood's guidance council in this Washington Post editorial (published before President Hosni Mubarak stepped down). "Our track record of responsibility and moderation is a hallmark of our political credentials, and we will build on it," he pledges. (Feb. 9, 2011)
  • Egypt 2012: What if the Muslim Brotherhood Comes to Power? "Most Egyptians are not members of the Brotherhood, but the group probably represents a healthy plurality of the country, and its strength goes beyond its popularity," writes the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Byman. He analyzes the group's prospects for political power and how the group's rise could affect U.S. interests. (Feb. 4, 2011)
  • Egypt's Bumbling Brotherhood In this New York Times op-ed, anthropologist Scott Atran argues that the U.S. has little reason to fear a political takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, which he depicts as a bumbling, flip-flopping organization with less popular support than is often attributed to it. (Feb. 2, 2011)
  • Our Secret Connections with the Muslim Brotherhood Ian Johnson analyzes "secret American alliances" with Muslim Brotherhood factions around the world since the 1950s, and argues that they have largely benefited the Brotherhood, rather than U.S. interests. (The New York Review of Books, Feb. 7, 2011)
  • Why the U.S. Should Engage the Muslim Brotherhood The New America Foundation's Philip Mudd writes for The Atlantic that U.S. policy-makers should recognize how empowering the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups can serve as an ideological counterweight, and weaken extremist groups like Al Qaeda. (Feb. 21, 2011)
  • Beware Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie Gelb sounds a more cautious note in this analysis for The Daily Beast: "The MB supports Hamas and other terrorist groups, makes friendly noises to Iranian dictators and torturers, would be uncertain landlords of the critical Suez Canal, and opposes the Egyptian-Israeli agreement of 1979, widely regarded as the foundation of peace in the Mideast. Above all, the MB would endanger counterterrorism efforts in the region and worldwide. That is a very big deal." (Jan. 29, 2011)
  • Regarding the Brotherhood "The MB, like most opposition groups in Egypt, took on some of the attributes of the regime: sclerosis, gerontocracy, authoritarian tendencies, lack of vision, and more," writes Cairo-based blogger Issandr El-Amrani. But he says they are "well placed to take advantage of" Egypt's political opening if they can clearly communicate what they stand for in the post-Jan. 25 era. (Feb. 13, 2011)
  • Should We Fear the Muslim Brotherhood? "The Brotherhood of today is not the Brotherhood of yesterday," writes Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institute in Slate. He argues that though the Muslim Brotherhood is by no means liberal, its views have moderated over time, and the group today often puts political pragmatism ahead of party ideology. (Feb. 2, 2011)
  • America's Islam Anxiety in Egypt and Beyond In this June 2009 Esquire analysis published on the eve of President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo, historian and blogger Juan Cole cautions that American leaders have often misunderstood the Muslim Brotherhood, conflating the peaceful movement with distinct groups like Hizbullah, Hamas and al-Qaeda. He offers a comparative analysis of these movements and argues that U.S. engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood may be "the healthiest way forward for American policy." (June 4, 2009)


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Posted Feburary 22, 2011

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