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Inside Story

Egypt: Breaking the Brotherhood?

We ask how the latest ban of the country's oldest Islamist organisation will impact Egypt's political future.

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2013 11:04
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Already under fire, the Muslim Brotherhood's activies are now banned and its funds seized according to a verdict by an Egyptian court. The decision does not affect the group's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, but it does pave the way for police to arrest anyone taking part in Muslim Brotherhood protests.

We are trying to do our best to stay in the principles of justice but it seems that the corrupt military-backed judges that released Hosni Mubarak ... is now trying to silence the Muslim Brotherhood because of their peaceful involvement with the anti-coup alliance to resist this coup.

Abdullah El-Haddad, Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson

Many see the court ruling as a move to curb the group's political influence.

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to mix political activism with charity work and has influenced movements with similiar ideologies around the world. Operating under the slogan of "Islam is the solution", the Brotherhood wants to create a state governed by Islamic law.

But this is not the first time that Muslim Brotherhood activities have been suspended.

As Egypt's oldest and largest Islamic organisation, it was founded in 1928 by Imam Hassan al-Banna. It started as a religious and social organisation and then evolved into a political group.

In October 1954, the Muslim Brotherhood was blamed for a failed assassination attempt on then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the group was banned.

Anwar Sadat succeeded Nasser in 1971, and while he granted its leadership amnesties the Brotherhood was officially banned again.

When Hosni Mubarak came to power 1981, he too kept a tight control on the organisation, refusing to let it register as a political party.

But 2011 was a turning point. After the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood founded its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

In 2012 the party's candidate Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as Egypt's first democratically-elected head of state.

But the tide turned in July this year: after huge demonstrations, the army deposed Morsi and placed him under arrest.

What are the implications of the ban? Is Egytp's new leadership trying to demonise the Muslim Brotherhood? And does it signal an exclusion of the Brotherhood as Egypt's current rulers are drawing a political roadmap?

Inside Story, with presenter Folly Bah Thibault, discusses with guests: Abdullah El Haddad, a spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood; Abdullah al-Arian, an assistant professor of History at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University; and Zoher Sobky, a retired Egyptian army officer and political analyst.

"Many of the people who took part in the anti-coup protests were not  necessarily members of the Muslim Brotherhood - these are people who I think have shown that they are clearly uncomfortable with the military stepping in and removing an elected president, regardless of how unpopular that president may be, regardless of how his policies may have certainly failed the Egyptian people in some ways. But clearly it is setting a precedent in which this is a step backwards for democracy - to say the least."

Abdullah al-Arian, an assistant professor of History at Georgetown University

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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