Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood


The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic movement that was founded in Egypt in 1928. From there it spread to many other countries in the Middle East. Its aim is to create Muslim governments that are based on the Koran and Islamic law.

In its early days the Muslim Brotherhood concentrated on providing social services to poor people. In the 1930s and 40s it grew into a political movement that fought to help get the British out of the Egypt. At the end of World War II it is estimated that the Brotherhood had up to a million followers.

In the 1940s the Muslim Brotherhood became closely connected with acts of violence. In 1948 the Egyptian Prime Minister was assassinated by Brotherhood members.

In the 1950s the Islamic movement was banned and started operating underground. In 1954 the Brotherhood tried to kill Prime Minister Gamal Abdel Nasser but failed. Many of its leaders were put into prison, some of them were executed.

After a few decades of relative quiet, the Muslim Brotherhood became more active in the 1980s, after Islamic influence in the Middle East had become stronger. In Egypt the Brotherhood remained banned but many of its members formed independent parties. By 2000 over 20% of parliament’s representatives were related to the organisation.

Mohamed Mursi - 5th president of Egypt

Mohamed Mursi - Egypt's 5th president - Wilson Dias/ABr - Agência Brasil


The Muslim Brotherhood played an active role during the Arab Spring of 2011.  After Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak had been removed from power the Brotherhood‘s newly formed Freedom and Justice Party won almost half the seats in Egypt’s first democratic elections.  Mohamed Morsi became president and assured Egypt’s people that he wanted to build a democratic and modern state. In the months that followed Morsi tried to accumulate more and more power. A new constitution gave the Brotherhood far-reaching rights.

The army removed Morsi after a wave of protests.  In September 2013 the Muslim Brotherhood was once again banned and many of its leaders were arrested and put into prison.

Besides Egypt, the Brotherhood has become active in other countries. While in Jordan the Islamic organisation has become an accepted political movement, being a member of the Brotherhood in Syria can lead to imprisonment and death. The Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood and is in control of large parts of the Gaza Strip.


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  • accept = allow
  • accumulate = build up, gather
  • act = action, operation
  • aim = something you hope to do
  • arrest = to take to a police station because a person has done something wrong
  • assassinate = to kill somebody for political reasons
  • assure = promise
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • besides = apart from
  • concentrate = focus
  • connect = link
  • constitution = a set of laws and rules that a country is governed by
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • election = when people vote to choose a president or a member of parliament
  • estimate = guess
  • execute = to kill officially
  • fail = not succeed, if something does not work the way it is expected to
  • far-reaching rights = here: to be allowed a lot of things
  • follower = a person who actively supports a person or a party
  • found-founded = start
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • imprisonment = being locked up in prison
  • influence = power
  • Koran = holy book of Islam
  • law = rules of a country
  • movement = group of people who have the same opinions  and work together on the same project
  • operate = work
  • provide = give, offer
  • quiet = without activity
  • related to = here: to have strong connections with
  • remain = stay
  • remove = get rid of; take away
  • social services = to help people with their problems, give them money or  health care
  • spread = move
  • underground = here: illegally
  • wave = series