Socialist Worker

Muslim Brotherhood: a contradictory force

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2237

Imperialism and its allies are decidedly nervous about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in a post-Mubarak Egypt.

Its role is also being debated on the streets, where some worry it will stifle protests.

But the spectre evoked by the US and others of a “dark force of fundamentalism” is a simplistic portrayal of Egypt’s largest opposition movement.

The Brotherhood has hundreds of thousand of members.

It stands independent candidates in elections, despite being illegal. In 2005, it won 20 percent of the seats in parliament.

It has been an integral part of Egyptian politics since the revolt against colonial rule, and has always played a contradictory role.

Despite its anti-imperialist stance, it is a party prepared to make deals with rulers.

Its leaders include factory owners and rural landlords. Its political activists come from the urban middle classes. At its base it has a huge following among the urban and rural poor.

It is conservative on the question of women, yet has a huge number of women in its ranks. It is wedded to private property, opposing the peasant movement against the landlords.

It is hostile to trade unions with little influence inside the factories. Yet its supporters in parliament fought to extend the right to strike and form unions.

It is hostile to Egypt’s Christian minority and questions of equality.

But it is its positions on Palestine and imperialism that worry Western governments.

Its close links to Hamas means that its credibility will be called into question if Palestinians mass at the Gaza border or demand an end to Israel’s siege.

The Brotherhood is an important player in the uprising.

Crucially for imperialism, it is a dangerous enemy that presents a direct threat to a US strategy that has been 40 years in the making.

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