17 Facts You Need To Know About The Controversial Islamist Group That Just Took The Egyptian Presidency

Muslim Brotherhood EgyptMuslims respond to the call to prayer earlier this month in Tahrir Square

Photo: AP

It’s tough for casual Western observers to know what to make of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.They’re one of the world’s oldest and most influential Islamist groups, and their strategies and teachings can be linked to groups such as Hamas and even Al Qaeda. On the other hand, the party presents itself as a modern and open political group, free from the power of Egypt’s feared military and even the Economist endorsed their presidential candidate.

This weekend, that presidential candidate appears to have won the presidential election — and the Arabic world’s largest state looks likely to be led by an Islamist. Will Egypt become a theocracy?

The group was founded in 1928 by Islamic scholar Hassan al-Banna

Hassan al-Bannawas wanted to end the British occupation of Egypt, and hoped to 'Islamize' the nation. He was assassinated in 1949.

It's now thought that the Brotherhood may have as many as two million members.

Source: The New Yorker

But no-one is too sure about that due to the group's love of secrecy.

Al-Banna himself warned his followers that it was a mistake to be too candid.

Source: Al Jazeera

Despite a reputation for radicalism, the group is popular with professionals.

Peter Hessler of the New Yorker writes that 'today's leadership is dominated by physicians, engineers, dentists and pharmacists.'

Officially, the group appears tolerant of other religions.

They say they don't want to introduce more of a role for Sharia law in Egypt, for example.

Despite a distinct lack of high-ranking women, the movement seems to enjoy support from female voters.

The group has renounced violence in Egypt.

Despite this, they have long supported the armed conflict in Palestine.

Sayyid Qutb ran the group's propaganda division in the 1950s, and supported a 'holy war' against non-Muslims.

For decades they've had strong links to the Iranian regime, which concerns some in the US.

Source: BI

However, the US has a long history of working with the Brotherhood for a variety of reasons.

In the New York Review of Books, Ian Johnson argued that 'the only party that clearly has benefited has been the Brotherhood.'

The group were initially hesitant to join the the Tahrir Square protests, only visiting the square after days of protests had already happened.

However, a post-Mubarak Egypt has given them a lot of power. They dominated the parliament after the 2011 election.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Freedom And Justice Party, won 235 out of 508 seats.

Last week a military-backed court annulled that parliamentary result.

The Muslim Brotherhood had initially said they wouldn't field a candidate in this year's presidential elections, but they later reversed that decision.

Mohamed Morsi, a former engineer, was their choice.

Even the Economist endorsed Morsi.

Morsi has claimed victory in the election, but what happens next is anyone's guess...

No one is sure if the military would actually let Morsi rule -- or how the Brotherhood will react.

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