The Muslim Brotherhood was established in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. At the time, the Islamic world was at a crossroads. Banna had the vision that the organization will help Muslims find strength via the self-sufficient nature of Islam. At its conception, Muslim brotherhood was simply a movement advocating for changes in individual and social morality. This stance popularized the movement and its political significance. Therefore, it expanded its horizons and started challenging secular leadership in Egypt (Paison). The movement’s motto is “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihadis our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” (JVL). The movement has grown in popularity over the years; its growth ensured that it won a majority of votes this year in Egypt’s first truly democratic elections. This paper tries to forecast the impact that this election will have on the country’s political situation, minority groups and whether it will mirror the situation in Iran.
First and foremost, from its name and slogan it is true to say that the movement is wholly Muslim and hence adheres to Islam doctrines. Although it can be argued that it finds its popularity largely because most Egyptians are Muslims, it should not be forgotten that the organization has also been involved in charitable activities over the years. The organization has a history of helping the poor and is credited in providing humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters despite the fact that they have limited funds. During the election period, they were the most organized and the most active political group. All the three factors suggest that they will dominate politics in Egypt in the short term. However, the organization’s strict religious alignment implies that most of its policies will be guided by Islam unless there is change in ideology; a very remote possibility. This simply means that Egypt may become partially an Islamic state. To counter this, minority groups such as Christians, Jewish and liberals will have to form their own organization. Indeed, one such party exists – the Egypt bloc. This seems to support the idea that religion will be a major player in the politics of the country for some time (Elkin, 2011).
There seems to be a cloud on what exactly is Muslim Brotherhood’s position on Islamic law. That is, whether they will advocate for the stricter version (those used by extremists such as Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda) or for the more relaxed sharia law. However, it should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood defeated a party that advocates for stricter sharia laws (Elkin, 2011). Perhaps this suggests that probably the organization supports the relaxed version. This paper will assume that the organization supports the second stance.
The Christians and other minority groups have always found freedom of worship in Egypt for a long time. However, the leadership under Muslim Brotherhood may probably limit this freedom. This fear indeed has caused many Christians to emigrate from Egypt over the past months (Elkin, 2011). These minorities fear that the country may unofficially or officially turn to an Islamic state. This fear has not been helped by Muslim Brotherhood’s unclear stance. Despite the confusion, it is an undisputed fact that Islam and Islamic law will dominate the country’s policies. Therefore, in the short term, Christians and other minority groups won’t have much of a say in Egypt’s leadership. Some of them may move elsewhere.
At the moment, it will not be morally right to conclude that the Muslim Brotherhood will turn the state to an extremist Islamic state. For example, in 2007, it made a policy that required all presidents to be men, a practice followed in Iran. However, this position was rebuked by many people, and even by some of its leaders (HRF). This confirms the dual nature of the organization where some forces want to impose tough laws while the others want liberal laws. This suggests that any tough Islamic law will be vehemently denied within the organization itself. Therefore, it is safe that there is a high chance that Egypt will not be turned into strict sharia law abiding state just like Saudi Arabia.