What’s the Truth About the Muslim Brotherhood?

The revolution in Egypt is a tsunami in Islamic politics. The toppling of Hosni Mubarak will raise expectations and fears from Morocco to Indonesia. At the center of many of these hopes and concerns is the role of Egypt’s oldest and best organized political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, or Ikhwan, which is certain to play an important role in how Egypt evolves after Mubarak. Is it a radical revolutionary party inherently opposed to American interests, or is it a reformed Islamist party ready to play by democratic rules and work with America? Will Egypt become another Iran or a Turkey?

Suppressed by Mubarak and his predecessors, Gamal Nasser and Anwar Sadat, the Brotherhood abandoned violence in the 1970s and ’80s and committed itself to peaceful political change in Egypt. It organized clinics, schools and bookstores for the poor and participated in the rigged elections Mubarak tolerated. It committed itself to dialogue and change, not violence and one-party rule or rule by a clerical supreme leader.

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