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The Muslim Brotherhood

Between Opposition and Power

Dalia Fahmy

The mass uprisings that spread across the Arab region in 2011 and ultimately toppled long-entrenched authoritarian regimes were composed of ordinary citizens. The people who came together calling for change transcended ethnic, religious, ideological, and gender lines. It seemed that ideologically based social movements, long perceived to be the agents of social and political change, had failed to bring about such change. For a brief moment it seemed that these movements might lose their cachet as the symbolic agents of change, replaced by nonideologically committed coalitions of ordinary citizens.

In the case of Egypt, it was not the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest and most organized social and political movement, that brought about the revolution; on the contrary, they were late in officially joining the ideologically diverse revolutionary forces. However, following the removal of Hosni Mubarak, when the arena of contestation moved from the street and the square to negotiations with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (scaf), and ultimately to the ballot box, Egypt’s nonideological coalitions were replaced as the primary actors by the Muslim Brotherhood. This chapter traces the changes and adaptations made by the Muslim Brotherhood during three significant political moments: the authoritarian regime of Mubarak, military rule under the scaf, and the democratically elected Islamist government of the Muslim Brotherhood under Mohammed Morsi. The chapter will also examine if and how structural changes altered the political commitments and ideological rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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