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Relations between the Egyptian authorities and the most influential Muslim organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (ABM), have been marked by constant conflicts throughout its history. The confrontation between the ruling elite and the brotherhood, which is in constant opposition to the regime, culminated in a ban imposed by the authorities on the organization's activities in 1956.For more than half a century, the Association has been operating legally illegally, but the authorities have failed to destroy the organization itself or reduce its influence and authority among the multi-million-strong population of Egypt.

In late 2009 and early 2010, the new executive body of the Association - the Main Management Bureau (GRB) - and the eighth supreme mentor were elected. As a result, representatives of the conservative movement within the Muslim Brotherhood won, and Muhammad Badi was elected as a new mentor.

The strengthening of the conservative camp, whose members are supporters of the non-systemic nature of the Islamist opposition and the curtailment of its political activity, and the weakening of the position of the moderate wing of Islamists, who, on the contrary, advocate dialogue with the authorities and for the Association's participation in the country's political life, are largely due to the ongoing repression of the Muslim Brotherhood by the authorities.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian regime's tough fight against Islamists may eventually turn against itself. The Muslim Brotherhood Association is essentially the only serious opposition force in Egypt that has a clear political program, broad support in society, an extensive social network, and a rich experience in opposing the ruling regime. The participation of the moderate wing of Islamists in the country's political life, which is impossible without the support of the authorities, can revive democratic trends in Egyptian society. The transformation of the Muslim Brotherhood into an independent, systemic opposition could help activate these processes, and it would also be beneficial for the Egyptian ruling elite, which is constantly under pressure from the international community, especially the United States. However, the continuation of repressions against the ABM and the arrest of its most prominent figures may, in our opinion, lead to a revision of the organization's course towards a more conservative one and its withdrawal from the legal political field.


The Muslim Brotherhood Association (Muassasat al-Ikhwan al-Musliminis the oldest and one of the most influential Sunni Islamist organizations. It was founded in 1928 in the Egyptian city of Ismailiyah by Hassan al-Banna and quickly gained popularity in Egypt thanks to clear and close slogans calling for Islamic justice and condemning British colonialism.

The Muslim Brotherhood was the first mass organization of the 20th century to declare its goal to build a state and society based on Islamic principles.

Initially, the Muslim Brotherhood was a small circle of ideological associates and students of al-Banna, but after a few years, the Association began to grow rapidly. Since the beginning of the 1930s, it has dramatically intensified its religious and educational activities, recruiting its supporters among the middle and lower strata of Egyptian society, whose representatives later formed the backbone of the Islamist movement. ABM also managed to quickly build a clear management system in the center and in the field, which allowed it to acquire a fairly coherent and viable structure.

The popularity of Islamists also contributed to their activities in the social sphere. With their support, networks of hospitals, schools, and other social institutions were created, which provided services to-

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As a rule, they were not inferior in quality to services provided in public or private institutions, but they cost an order of magnitude lower. The Muslim Brotherhood also took care of the poorest segments of the population, organizing charity dinners and free religious education courses.

Sayyid Qutb (1906-1954), one of the most prominent ideologists of the Association, became the founder of the modern theory of radical Islamism. In the 1960s and 1970s, his ideas spread outside Egypt and became the theoretical basis for many radical Islamist organizations (Egyptian Al-Jihad and Altamaa al-Islamiyya, as well as international organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Hizb al-Tahrir). In the 1970s, the ABM abandoned violent methods of power struggle and began to position itself as a moderate movement.

However, relations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian authorities have never been stable - their interests and views sometimes coincided, then diverged.

The Muslim Brotherhood does not reject the idea of cooperation with the regime, but it does its best to avoid attempts by the authorities to use them to their advantage. By rejecting the imposed rules of the game, the ABM inevitably turned into a recalcitrant but dangerous opponent in the eyes of the ruling circles, so the relatively even periods of their relations were replaced by hostility. The "Brothers" criticized the authorities, while the regime used repressive methods to fight them.

The activities of Islamists have their own fairly broad and strong financial support. In the 1970s and 1980s, representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had made money in the oil monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula, began to establish banks and investment companies in Egypt, building their economic model solely on the basis of economic principles approved by the Koran and Sunnah. Over time, this sector of the economy and finance, which exists in parallel with traditional financial institutions, began to operate structures that are not related to the ABM in any way, but use the principles of Islamic economics in their activities. It is quite difficult to determine the amount of capital owned only by companies belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, but according to the Egyptian press, the activity of the entire Islamic financial and economic sector in Egypt remains high and stable even in the context of the global financial crisis.1

The fact that Islamists have their own social and financial-economic structures, which exist in parallel with the state ones, indicates that we are not talking about some organization of Muslim romantics and fanatics who seek to realize the ideals of the early Islamic past. The Muslim Brotherhood positions itself as a serious organization that, in fact, expects to replace state institutions that are incapacitated, in their opinion, or not functioning effectively enough at the moment when it turns out to be possible. No organization in Egypt can boast of such activity simultaneously in the political, financial, economic and social-educational spheres. This is certainly a strong point of the Muslim Brotherhood (which is largely why its popularity is growing among Egyptians), as well as the main reason why the authorities are still hesitant to completely ban the Association's activities on the territory of the country2.


The 1980s, when Omar al-Tilmisani (1972-1986) was at the head of the Islamists, can be considered the beginning of the active politicization of the Muslim Brotherhood, i.e., their promotion of political slogans along with their attempts to participate in public polity3. However, given the difficult situation in the country (after the murder of Anwar Sadat by radical Islamists in 1970, the authorities began to sharply tighten the screws against the political opponents of the new president, Hosni Mubarak), the ABM had almost no chance of achieving legalization of its status.

Against the background of the process of democratization of the political systems of the Middle East states, which is taking place under the influence and pressure of external forces (primarily the United States), the opportunities for the legal participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian politics have significantly increased.

In the wake of democratic processes in the region, ABM launched its own program "Reform Initiative". Appearance-

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The launch of this " Initiative "in March 2004 coincided with an active discussion of the American project of the" Greater Middle East " in the Arab world. This project involves the widespread implementation of democratic reforms in the countries of the region, including Egypt. In its program, the Muslim Brotherhood expressed its commitment to the following principles::

- denial of any foreign hegemony over Egypt or any other country in the Arab-Muslim world;

- carrying out a full-scale reform, taking into account the national and Islamic interests of the country;

- changes should lead to a comprehensive revival and be based on the principles of freedom, justice, equality and consultation (the shura principle).;

- involvement of all citizens, not just any one party or force in the country, in the process of reforming all aspects of the life of the AP4.

For the first time since Sadat's rule, the ABM document contained not only demands for the authorities to implement reforms, but also an indication that the organization is ready to assist the government of H. Mubarak in this process.

A number of scholars, including Egyptian researcher Husam Tammam, believe that the publication of the ABM " Initiative "was the brothers' response to the American plan for the democratization of the Middle East. This is also indicated by the fact that the text of the "Reform Initiative" was not really fundamentally new, it contained excerpts from previous documents and speeches of the ABM, including from their 2000 election program, 5 While the Association's leaders emphasized that the US initiative to democratize Egypt and other countries The Middle East is "unacceptable" and that the reform of Egypt's internal life should only take place "in accordance with Muslim law".6

The Muslim Brotherhood's proposals regarding the need for reforms have caused a wide response in Egypt. Demonstrations were held in the country, where participants also demanded that the authorities start political and constitutional reform of the country. A wave of popular demonstrations in Egypt in the summer of 2004 was taken up by the Muslim Brotherhood. For the first time since the 1950s, ABM activists took to the streets 7. Thus, the Association once again tried to demonstrate that it is able to influence the mood of the Egyptian street and even manage them.

In February 2005, President Hosni Mubarak announced the beginning of reforms that would meet some of the demands of Islamists. First of all, it concerned the reform of the Constitution and steps to democratize the existing political system. 8 The next step of the Muslim Brotherhood in the political arena was the preparation and participation in the parliamentary elections in December 2005.

The pre-election program published by them almost completely repeated the main provisions of the "Reform Initiative". Based on article 2 of the country's Constitution, which states that "the principles of Sharia are the main source of legislation", 9 the Muslim Brotherhood's program once again called on the authorities to launch a full-scale reform based on the so-called "Islamic way" (al-manhaj al-Islamiy). In their opinion, it was necessary to start with "moral reform" (Islah al-nufus, literally: "reform of souls").10.

The first part of the election program was devoted to the struggle for the basic rights and principles of a democratic state (civil rights, women's and children's rights, independent media, freedom to form parties, etc.), the second - to the basic principles of the development of industry, agriculture, construction and science.

The third part of the program contained the main directions of future reform: in the political sphere-turning Egypt into a presidential and parliamentary republic "based on the principles of Islam", and building a democratic state.-

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in the economic sphere-fighting unemployment, corruption, caring for the poor; in the social sphere - increasing social guarantees, health protection, etc.

Despite the fact that the program of the Muslim Brotherhood party did not express any dangerous ideas for the existing political regime, the authorities did not dare to give the Muslim Brotherhood the opportunity to participate in the parliamentary elections as a political party, so Islamist candidates were presented as "independent".

Despite all the obstacles, the December 2005 parliamentary elections were the most successful for Islamists in the history of the People's Assembly.

ABM candidates managed to win 88 seats out of 454,11 (about 20%) and thus form the largest opposition bloc in the Parliament12. However, the Association does not have enough parliamentary mandates to be able to radically change the course of voting for a particular law. However, despite this, the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary activities are very active.

The "Brothers" manage to bring up very acute issues for discussion in the parliament, which turn into a subject of public discussion already outside the walls of the National Assembly. An example is the parliamentary hearings on amendments to the law on punishments for publications in the press. Having expressed its protest against these amendments, the ABM (not only as part of the parliamentary corps, but also together with other members of the Association) spoke together with Egyptian journalists, holding a picket in front of the parliament walls. Under the pressure of these protests, the deputies of the People's Assembly slightly corrected the text of the document. Its final version still did not suit journalists, but thanks to the mass protest, this problem attracted public attention.

In comparison with the work of the previous parliament (2000-2005), which was mainly focused on religious and moral issues, the activities of the current ABM parliamentary bloc are more socially oriented. Given that the social sphere is perhaps the only sphere in which the goals of the Islamists and the authorities do not differ in principle, the efforts of the "brothers" practically do not meet obstacles.

However, the new wave of arrests of members of the Association, which followed immediately after the publication of the election results, put the "brothers" in an extremely difficult position. Having its representatives in the legislative Assembly, municipal councils and trade unions, ABM has virtually no self-defense levers, remaining a banned organization until now, which means that it is very vulnerable to persecution by the ruling regime.

The Association's strategic vulnerability is also compounded by the lack of elaboration of its ideological course. For example, it is noteworthy that the political part of the program is more detailed than the equally important one, while the other part is economic. It is not very clear how the transition to the so-called "Islamic economy"will be implemented. In addition, the ABM calls for attracting investments primarily from Muslim countries, while the current activity of Muslim investors in Egypt is relatively low compared to Western ones (only 2 Islamic banks still operate in the country) and is unlikely to meet the expectations of Islamists in the near future. Shortcomings in the program documents and ideological ambiguity of some aspects push some intellectuals and educated youth away from Islamists.


There are other problems that complicate the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the political field of Egypt. Currently, the opposition of the moderate and conservative wings continues within the organization. The withdrawal of the Muslim Brotherhood from the public sphere, as conservatives argue, would mean that only one real player would remain in Egypt's political arena. First of all, we are talking about the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), as well as a number of parties that do not have enough weight in Egyptian politics (the liberal New Wafd, or neo-Wafd, the Progressive National Unionist Party and the Nasserists). In the absence of serious opponents to the regime, the rapid democratization of Egypt, which the government supports, will be impossible.

Fear of the influence of Islamists forces the Egyptian authorities to continue their crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. On average, several dozen Islamists are sent to prison every month.

The most prominent representatives of the moderate wing in the ABM are Abdel Monem Abu al-Futuh (former member of the Main Governing Bureau), Issam al-Erian (one of the members of the political department of the ABM), and Kheyrat al-Shater (businessman, one of the main sponsors of the Association, second deputy to Mohammed Mahdi Akef).15 In 2007, the ABM was founded in according to the decision of the military tribunal, al-Shater was sentenced to 7 years on charges of money laundering. They are in favor of continuing the course taken several years ago on the active participation of the organization in the internal political life of Egypt and dialogue with the authorities. This wing is also joined by numerous representatives of the ABM's younger generation, members of various trade unions, representatives of students, etc.

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Moderate reformers within the Muslim Brotherhood are opposed by the conservative wing led by Mahmoud Izzat (Secretary General and member of the ABM General Management Bureau 16) and Muhammad Morey (member of the ABM GRB 17). They are supporters of a greater religious orientation, as well as curtailing the political activity of the Muslim Brotherhood. Conservatives believe that dialogue with the Egyptian authorities is impossible in the face of severe repression against ABM members.

One of the decisive stages in the confrontation between moderates and conservatives within the Muslim Brotherhood was the change of power in the organization. The presence of such a compromise figure as Muhammad Mahdi Akef at the head of the ABM allowed maintaining a balance between conservatives and reformers and avoiding a serious internal split. Akef was born in the year the organization was founded in 1928, joined its ranks in the 1940s, and is now rightfully considered a representative of the "first generation" (ahl al-sabak) of ABM, which still remembers the times when it was led by its founder Hassan al-Banna (1928-1949). Akef also earned respect among the organization's elders through his work in the secret apparatus (al-Jihaz al-Sirri), as well as his involvement in resistance operations against British colonial forces. In addition, after serving about twenty years in an Egyptian prison, he acquired a peculiar status of a martyr. It also gave him credibility and respect among the organization's members, especially among members of the " old " wing, or conservatives. Akef has no less authority than among conservatives among representatives of the reform wing. Husam Tammam, the author of a book on the Muslim Brotherhood, describes him as "the closest representative of the General Management Bureau to the younger generation." 18 In 1974, after being released from prison, he was appointed head of the Youth Affairs Committee within the ABM. Many prominent figures of the organization, representatives of the so-called "middle generation of fifties" (i.e., those whose age is now about 50 years), subsequently left this committee; Akef still maintains good relations with them. The beginning of the active Islamic preaching work of the "generation of fifty-year-olds" fell on the years of the "open door" policy - infitah (1970-early 1980-ies).

The new supreme mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood, 66-year - old Muhammad Badi, belongs to the conservative wing and is an admirer of Sayyid Qutb's ideas. His ideological sympathies and belonging to one of the warring camps within ABM will inevitably have an impact on the internal and external development of the organization. Of great importance in this regard are the results of the elections to the Main Management Bureau, as a result of which the Conservatives also won the majority of seats in it.

The nature of Islamist relations with the authorities will continue to play an important role in the processes that are taking place within the Muslim Brotherhood. The ongoing crackdown on ABM is likely to strengthen conservative sentiment and further radicalize the organization. This, in turn, may lead to the withdrawal of the Muslim Brotherhood from the open political space. In this scenario, it will become much more difficult for the authorities to control both the Islamists themselves and the stratum of Egyptian society that supports them.

Nader P. 1 Sector Service: As Islamic Finance Booms Globally, Egypt Needs to Play Catch-up -

2 The ABM was officially banned in 1954, but the Islamists continued to operate illegally. This situation continues today, despite the fact that over the past decades, the Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly sent requests to the government for its legalization. Their participation in the political life of the country often takes place by "infusing" the "brothers" into the ranks of already existing legal parties and movements.

3 For more information on the stages of politicization of the ABM, see: Razhbadinov M. Z. Egyptian Movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, Moscow, 2003.

4 Al-Jazeera Haula al-Mabadi li-l-islah: Mubadarat Jama'at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin li-l-Islah ad-Dahili fi Mier (Al-Jazeera on the principles of reform: The Initiative of Internal Reforms in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood Association), 16.05.2005 -

Tammam H. 5 Transformation within the Muslim Brotherhood: Ideological Weakness and Organizational End (in Arabic). Cairo, 2006. p. 145.

Al Husseini H. 6 Muslim Brotherhood Submits Own Initiative for Reform // Islam Online, 4.03.2004 -

Tawfiq Ibrahim H. 7 Democratic Transformation and Civil Society in Egypt (in Arabic). Cairo, 2006. p. 234.

8 Article 76 of the Egyptian Constitution was amended to introduce presidential elections on an alternative basis, i.e. with the participation of two or more candidates.

9 See: Sapronova M. Gosudarstvennyi stroy i konstitutsii arabnykh respublik [The State System and the Constitution of the Arab Republics], Moscow, 2003, p. 157.

Tammam H. 10 Edict. op. P. 200.

11 2005 People's Assembly Election-Stage 1 Final Results // Egypt State Information Service -

12 The ruling National Democratic Party won 311 seats, the rest were divided between the opposition. In addition to the ABM, candidates from the New Wafd Party (6 seats), the Progressive National Unionist Party (2 seats), and the Tagammu Party (1 seat) also entered the National Assembly. 24 seats were won by independent candidates who are not related to any of these parties or movements. There are no data on 12 candidates who were elected to the Parliament. Another 10 people are traditionally appointed by the president by his personal decree.

Majlis al-sha'ab al-mieriyyulgi ' ukuba hasb al-suhufiyin (The People's Assembly in Egypt drops charges against journalists) / / CNN, 10.07.2006 -

Al Nasser L. 13 Islamic Banking in Egypt // Asharq Alawsat, 21.03.2010 -

14 Not re-elected in the December 2009 GRB elections.

15 He retained this position after the election of Muhammad Badi as the new supreme mentor of ABM in January 2010.

16 Re-elected to the GRB in December 2009.

17 Re-elected to the GRB in December 2009.

Tammam H. 18 Edict. op. P. 80.


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