Muslim Brotherhood strife has decades old sordid history

Egyptian authorities are cracking down on violent protests by the Muslim Brotherhood, but who is this organization, and what do they want? Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2013 — Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is a secretive organization that has spread to more than a dozen countries. The organizational credo says in part “Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope” belying the organization’s goals.  Egyptian news reported that Egypt’s General Prosecution office had issued arrest warrants for the “Supreme Guide” Mohamed Badei and nine other leaders of Muslim Brotherhood in response to pro-Morsi riots, attacks, and even the murder of two teenagers protesting against deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

“There are two options,” says Gehad El-Haddad, a high ranking individual and spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood. “We reverse the coup, we reinstate the president, and then he leads the dialogue and discussion of the road maps ahead. Or we die trying.”

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On Friday, Badie announced at a pro-Morsi rally that “millions” would be mobilized until Morsi was reinstated. Subsequent clashes have killed more than fifty across Egypt, spurring the arrest of Badie and his compatriots in the Muslim Brotherhood.  Immediately before Morsi was unseated, he was criticized for failing to investigate rampant attacks against the country’s native Shi’ite Muslims.  An American citizen was also killed in the violence leading up to the Egyptian President’s ouster.

While the incidents are troubling, such unrest is not new to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1952, Egypt’s monarchy was overthrown with support from the Muslim Brotherhood.  Months after the establishment of the new government, which the Muslim Brotherhood unsuccessfully lobbied to join, it assassinated Egypt’s second Prime Minister. Shortly later, the group also assassinated Egyptian President Jamal Abd-al- Nasir

In the 1970s, breakaway members from the Muslim Brotherhood united with other radicals to form a group called “Egyptian Islamic Jihad,” which later assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The current leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 14.

In Bahrain, the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Al Menbar party passed legislation in 2009 outlawing “witchcraft and sorcery,” a charge often made against Shi’ite Muslims, whom the Bahraini government is cracking down on. In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has attempted to capitalize on the unrest, attempting to establish itself as a dominant group in the rebel forces.

SEE RELATED: Egyptians exhibit a Spirit of ‘76

The Washington Post quotes Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East policy, speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood, stating that the far greater concern to the United States and other Western countries are recent indications that extremists are seeking to muscle their way into the revolt.

The Brotherhood has expanded throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In Jordan, it plays a major role in the government; its Iraqi branch had Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as a member, until he fled the country on murder charges; and it maintains power bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Mauritania.

Declaring an explicit and public relationship in its public charter, “[Hamas] is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” 

Russia bans the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, blaming it for terror attacks, drug trafficking, and a host of other crimes.

SEE RELATED: Egypt: Violence continues between Morsi supporters and opponents

The Muslim Brotherhood has made public statements condemning violence and terrorism throughout its past. The denunciations, however, have not dissuaded its supporters from engaging in assassinations throughout the organization’s history, nor have they had any effect on the ongoing strife in Egypt today.  Muslim Brotherhood Spokesperson El-Hedadd’s vow to “die trying” to reverse the coup, does little to allay fears about the organization. 

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Rahat Husain

Rahat Husain has been working as a columnist since 2013 when he joined the Communities. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues.


In addition to writing for the Communities, Rahat Husain is an Attorney based in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. He is the Director of Legal and Policy Affairs at UMAA Advocacy. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. UMAA hosts one of the largest gatherings of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims in North America at its annual convention.


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