Arabicikhwān ‘al-muslimīn

Egyptian women in a brotherood organized demonstration.
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Islamist organization started by Hassan al-Banna in 1928, and turned into a political group beginning in 1939. The Brotherhood focused on social and moral reform rooted in Islam.
The Muslim Brotherhood has at times been close to the government as well as many times banned by it. The organization proved to be extraordinary powerful, and has been described as a “state within a state”. They were thus a crucial partner to the revolutionaries in the early 1950’s, but also dangerous for them once they achieved supremacy.
Roughly, one could say that the Brotherhood passed through 5 stages in its development. However, the transition between the stages took many years:

1928-1939: The Brotherhood beings as a youth organization, aiming at moral and social reform in Egypt through education, information and propaganda.
1939-1948: Due to the political void of the time, the Brotherhood was gradually politicized in the 1930’s. In 1939 it took the form of a political group. During the 1940’s, and especially after the end of World War 2 in 1945, many members became involved in actions, some of which were terrorist in character. Many members also joined the Arab side in the First Palestinian War in 1948-49.
1948-1954: Cooperation with the revolutionaries.
1954-1984: Outlawed because of opposition to the government of Egypt.
1984- : Accepted as a religious group, but under strict control by the government.


[The Brotherhood is] a salafiya message, a Sunni way, a sufi truth, a political organization, an athletic group, a scientific and cultural union, an economic enterprise and a social idea.

Hassan al-Banna around 1940

…when words are banned, hands make their move.

Hassan al-Banna in 1948 after the Brotherhood had been banned

1928: Founded by Hassan al-Banna as a youth club.
1936: The Muslim Brotherhood takes a pro-Arab position following the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and the start of the Palestinian uprising against Zionist settlements in Palestine.
1939: The Muslim Brotherhood defines itself as a political organization based on the Koran and the Hadith, a system applicable to modern society.
1940: The Brotherhood realizes 500 branches, each with its own centre, mosque, school and club.
1940-45: During World War 2, the Brotherhood experiences fast growth, and is joined by individuals from the lower and middle strata of society.
1946: The Brotherhood claims to have more than 5,000 branches, over 500,000 members and even more sympathizers.
1948: Brothers join the Palestinian side in the war against the Zionists of Palestine. Many Egyptian officers feel the war puts them in touch with their ideology.
— The brothers blame the Egyptian government for passivity in the war against the Zionists. They initiate terrorist attacks within Egypt.
— December: The Muslim Brotherhood is banned by the authorities.
— December 28: Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi is assassinated by a brother. This leads to even more repression from the government.
1949 February: Hassan al-Banna is killed by secret agents in Cairo.
1950: The Brotherhood is legalized again, but only as a religious body.
1951: Hassan Islam al-Hudaibi, a moderate, is elected leader of the Brotherhood.
1952 January: The Brotherhood is active during the anti-British riots in Cairo.
— July: Unlike political parties, the Brotherhood is not banned following the coup by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). This happens because the Brotherhood in in cooperation with the revolutionaries.
1954 February: Due to differences about the appropriate governmental system, whether Sharia or secular law, the Brotherhood is banned again.
— October 23: A Brotherhood activist, Abdul Munim Abdul Rauf, tries to assassinate president Nasser, but fails. Following this, he and 5 other brothers are executed, 4,000 members are arrested. Thousands flee to SyriaSaudi ArabiaJordan and Lebanon.
1964: A general amnesty is granted to imprisoned brothers. Nasser wants them to join the newly formed government party, the Arab Socialist Union, to ward off the threat of communism. This conditional cooperation policy does not succeed, and Nasser is exposed to 3 more assassination attempts.
1966: The top leaders of the Brotherhood are executed, and many other members imprisoned.
1968 April: Around 1,000 brothers are released from prison by president Nasser.
1970: With the death of Nasser, the new president, Anwar as-Sadat, promises the brothers that Sharia shall be implemented as the law of Egypt. All Brotherhood prisoners are released.
1976: The Muslim Brotherhood is not allowed to participate in the general elections, so many brothers run as independent candidates or as members of the ruling Arab Socialist Party. Altogether they gain 15 seats.
1979: The Brotherhood opposes strongly the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
1981 September: About 2,000 dissidents are arrested, of which a majority are brothers.
— October 6: President Sadat is assassinated by 4 brothers.
1984: The Muslim Brotherhood cooperates with the Neo-Wafd Party in the general elections. The brothers win 8 seats.
1987: The Brotherhood cooperates with the Socialist Labour Party and the Liberal Socialist Party to form the Labour Islamic Alliance. The alliance wins 60 seats, of which 37 are held by brothers.
1990: The Brotherhood boycotts the elections, protesting government controls at the polls.
2005 The Muslim Brotherhood is prevented from running for parliamentary elections as a political party. But their candidates, running as independents, manage to win 88 seats out of a total 454, making them by far the largest opposition group (other parties win 14 seats).


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