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Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt)

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In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood "has shown an increased interest in participation in the political process since 2003. While the movement had been intermittently active in electoral politics in the past, its recent participation has been more substantial and far more successful, the result of a considerable organizational and planning effort. In 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood won almost 20 percent of the seats of the People’s Assembly (lower, directly elected chamber of the Egyptian parliament), becoming the strongest opposition movement challenging Mubarak’s semiauthoritarian regime. Overcoming the obstacles created by a highly restrictive domestic political scene and its status as a banned organization since 1954, the Brotherhood has fashioned in recent years a political platform prioritizing participation as an opposition movement in legislative bodies. The movement has called on the regime to move Egyptian politics beyond the limited pluralism persistent since the 1970s by introducing democratic reforms. The Brotherhood has downplayed, if not abandoned, the goals of establishing an Islamic state of sorts or assuming power and implementing revolutionary changes in Egyptian society and politics." [1]

"Promoting democracy"

"Saad Eddin Ibrahim described two types of Muslim activists the Islamists and the Muslim Democrats. Both groups are active in politics and use Islam to promote their respective agendas. However, whereas Islamists seek the imposition of religious law and even, sometimes, a restored caliphate, Muslim Democrats are pragmatists who blend religious motivations with popular policies.

"Dr. Ibrahim spoke of his own experience in Egypts prisons, communicating with jailed members of Egypts Muslim Brotherhood and other activist groups. He described an evolution in the Muslim Brotherhood, some of which he saw emerge in the prison dialogue he had with imprisoned Muslim activists. 9/11 shook the imprisoned activists, he said: they felt partly responsible, believing that young people viewed them as role models who had used violence before they went to prison.

"The successes of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and its namesake in Morocco (PJD) enabled Dr. Ibrahim to interest the activists with whom he spoke in Muslim Democracy, he said. These examples of political parties showed other activists that Muslim Democrats could succeed.

"In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is by far the largest of the Muslim activist groups. Dr. Ibrahim talked about its evolution, and he suggested that this evolution in part because of its gradual nature was probably sincere. The Brotherhood renounced violence in 1971, and has stuck to that pledge for thirty-four years. Recently, members have been silent regarding the rule of sharia, and in 2004, they endorsed the idea of civil democracy and full rights for women, Christians, and Jews. Dr. Ibrahim advocated challenging the Brotherhood to moderate further: he suggested that the endorsement of civil democracy marked a turning point, and that members were on the cusp of becoming Muslim Democrats, but needed to be challenged to keep going. He advocated a Helsinki-style program by the West to encourage democratization." [2]

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