Legalized: April 30, 2011; Banned: September 23, 2013
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Hassan al-Banna in Ismailia, Egypt in 1928. It is the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political group. Technically banned, the Brotherhood is considered to be the largest opposition group in Egypt.
Its official goal is to implant the Quran and Sharia (Islamic) Law in all aspects of individual life as well as on a community and state level.
In Egypt alone the group is said to have as many as two million followers and its ideas have spread across the entire Arab world.
Following Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, the Brotherhood was legalized as an organization and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, won the presidential chair as well as the majority in both seats of parliament.
On September 23, 2013, a Cairo court ruled that the Brotherhood’s legal recognition was in violation of the law of organizations, and ruled to disband the Brotherhood and any group derived from the Brotherhood or receiving financial support from it.
The decision was followed by a wave of arrests of leading Brotherhood figures and has created a great deal of controversy.
In the 2005 elections, the Brotherhood won 20% of the seats in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament. The group’s success resulted in a major crackdown by the Egyptian government. Such crackdowns are common in the group’s history.
During the Mubarak era, the Brotherhood was often used as a means of ensuring the support of Western regimes. Mubarak presented the Brotherhood as the only alternative to his rule, and as expected, Western regimes favored supporting Mubarak over the chance of an “unstable” or “Islamist” regime.
The Brotherhood officially opposes violence and has repeatedly condemned extremism. Nevertheless, the group has been repeatedly banned from Egypt’s political sphere. There have been many offshoots of the group, some of which do not reject the use of violence. The most famous of these offshoots is al-Qaeda.
The Brotherhood’s non-violent stance has created backlash from other Islamist groups, including Gamaa al-Islamiyya and al-Takfir Wal Hijra, who claim the Brotherhood has betrayed jihad and the ideals of Sayyid Qutb, an influential Brotherhood member.
The group is said to be funded by individual members.