In both Egypt and Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood’s participation in electoral politics has not occasioned any changes in its basic ideology or objectives. The MB remains committed to the creation of an Islamic state. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the Egyptian MB's draft party program calls for a state ruled by sharia. The novelty of the draft program lies in the way the MB seeks to institutionalize that rule, namely through the assembly of jurists  That may help explain, incidentally, the Egyptian Brotherhood's professed solidarity with Iran, which first implemented the concept of rule of the jurists during its revolution in 1979, in addition to the Brotherhood's identifying with Iran’s anti-American and anti-Israeli positions. From the MB’s point of view, Islamic parties like Turkey’s AKP represent an adjustment to new global realities and a desire to integrate into the global system whereas by contrast, the Iranian regime, like the MB, rejects the current world order, and seeks to construct an alternative, Islamic one..

The crisis in which the MB organizations in both Egypt and Jordan find themselves is very much a product of the MB being both a dawa movement, committed to the creation of an Islamic order, and a political actor that is forced to work within the existing framework of nation states and popular politics. Despite the ideological incongruities and incoherence that these dual approaches and roles produce, the MB has shown itself to be unwilling to alter its basic ideological agenda or to modify its organizational structure. Some point to a generation gap inside the Brotherhood and presume that a younger generation is more pragmatic and political and less ideological than the old guard. They argue that this younger generation will ultimately transform the MB into a political organization, which will, in turn, moderate the Brotherhood’s radical ideology. In fact, however, the generation gap does not correspond to an ideological one. Although they may differ in their choice of tactics, the “second generation” leaders in Egypt share the ideological commitments of their elders regarding the Brotherhood's objectives.

Muhammad Abu Rumman, the Jordanian journalist and expert on the Islamist movements, has suggested that Arab Islamists have tolerated and even justified the ideological stagnation within their movements by the fact that their adherents are too preoccupied with state repression to be able to develop and change. But the Turkish Islamist movement, he remarks, was also besieged and persecuted for decades, but its leaders nonetheless managed to develop, innovate and thus lead the movement out of the constraints imposed on it by the regime.[44] Neither can regime repression explain the modest electoral gains of the Moroccan Brotherhood’s Justice and Development Party. According to the Egyptian analyst Khalil Anani, those electoral gains may indicate that Arab societies as a whole are not deeply convinced of the effectiveness or desirability of "the Islamic solution” offered by the Islamists.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s generation-old project is being blocked, and the movement is being called on to reexamine its objectives and strategies. So far the Brotherhood has not opted to make any fundamental change. It survived major crises in the past by being able to exploit opportunities and turn adversities to its advantage.

The influence of conservative Islam in Egyptian public life was greatly abetted by the changing orientation of state elites that began in the 1970's. By using Islam as a basis of nationalist legitimacy, both Sadat and curent Egyptian President Mubarak, abandoned the earlier eommitments to seeular modernity that marked the Nasser era. It also ereated an opportunity for conservative activists to promote their vision of Islam in public life.

Following the murder of President Anwar Sadat by Islamists, and in the early 1990's, the Egyptian government launched a major offensive against Islamist opposition groups. By 1997, thousands of Islamic activists had been killed, imprisoned or driven underground. Many had also escaped to join forces with AI-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The government's tactics during this period were brutal. It made extensive use of the security services to detain and kill suspected militants, and relied  upon the military court system to prosecute cases. Since then, President Hosni Mubarak has taken a more moderate line, but Islamic groups have continued their campaigns sporadically, being responsible for deadly attacks that have often targeted tourists and resort areas.

The Mubaraf  regime also took advantage ofthe state's control of the mass media and the official religious establishment to discredit the Islamist opposition and to counter their religious critique. The extreme measures that the regime employed reflected their belief that the Islamists were an existential threat to their continued role. Western govemments similarly feared the repercussions that would attend a 'fundamentalist' takeover, and tumed a blind eye to the human rights abuses and other 'emergency' tactics which the govemment used to win its war against Islamic extremism.Although the govemment' s offensive succeeded in removing the militants as an immanent threat, it did little to lessen the significance of religion in Egyptian public life.On the contrary, a conservative interpretation of Islam became further entrenched in Egypt's religious and political institutions during this period. This was evident in a series of high profile assaults on minority populations and upon intellectual and artisticfreedoms throughout the 1990's. Apostasy cases were brougt against secular intellectuals, and books were banned even as the militant threat receced. The government's complicity in these attacks, moreover, raised questions about the regime's commitment to a pluralist and tolerant conception of social order. It also generated concern about Egypt's future. While one would assume that the political victors would be able to define the new "rules of the game, "in this instance, the Islamist challenge-even in defeat-was able to reshape the vernacular of political discourse.( Se  Joel Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third W orld, Princeton University Press, 1988).

Why had this occurred?

The explanation of this anomalous dynamic can be found in the centrality of the state in Egyptian politics, and its reliance upon Islam as a source of ideological legitimacy. A legacy of the Nasser era, Egypt's centralized state dominates the political and economic life of the country.

While the current regime has sought to libera1ize the economy, politically it continues to dominate all facets of public life. Political opposition is tightly controlled, and the use of extra-legal means to limit dissent is not uncommon.

Similarly, elections are regularly manipulated, and elements of civil society that engage in political activism run the risk of arrest and government harassments State elites have also sought to control ideological dis course through censorship and. control of the mass media. To this end, the Egyptian government has used its control over religious institutions at all levels of society to promote Islam as a means of cultivating political quiescence and obedience to authority.

State actors in Egypt appeal to Islam in order to situate their rule within a broader framework of moral order, and to tie the Egyptian public to its political leaders in a web of rights and duties defmed by religious obligation. The significance, and viability, of this approach is based upon the majority population's continuing identification with, and belief in, Islam. Despite the perceived 'secular' quality of the Egyptian state and its leaders, it has never, in fact, broken with its religious moorings, preferring instead a time honored use of 'official Islam' to sanction political authority. Even during Gamal Abd' al-Nasser's rule (case study above), the modernizing state never sought to eradicate religious belief. Rather, the regime appealed to a more modernist interpretation of Islam in order to challenge traditional elites and to sanctify its socialist program of development.

The use of Islam for political ends was even more important for Nasser's successors-Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarek-who lacked bis charisma and the early optimism of the post-independence era. The policies of the Sadat regime, however, represented a significant break with his predecessor. Sadat embraced a more conservative Islam in an effort to redefine the direction of Egyptian politics. As part of this transformation, Sadat allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudi Royal family and other traditional elites in opposition to bis Communist and Nasserist rivals on the left.

For their part, during the cold war the Muslim Brotherhood followed the general guidelines of the Wahabis, but since it was not in control of a government (like it is now to some degree in Egypt), it developed a different strategy. While the Saudis had the luxury to use the powers of others, mainly the United States, the Ikhwan preferred to use the powers of the community they wanted to mobilize. The group's dense and complex writings over half a century focused on infiltrating the group's home countries, starting with the Arab and Muslim societies, so that they could be in full control of their destinies. The Brotherhood was extremely careful so as not to engage the regimes before reaching full capability. Their military and subversive doctrine was amazingly fluid and adaptable to circumstances. Their ideal shortcut was to infiltrate the ranks of the military and proceed with a coup d'etat against the government. Their next choice was to "advise" the ruler and influence him instead. This approach would start from the bottom-up and then reverse into a top-down mechanism. Hence, the Brotherhood would be interested in spreading through the elites, converting them patiently into the Salafi doctrine, and only then enlisting them in the organization. The Muslim Brotherhood often created front groups, both inside the Arab world and within emigre communities. Known to be very patient, the members distinguished themselves in smart deception.

In contrast to recent more radical organizations such as al Qaeda and its allies, the Brotherhood has made sure to camouflage its literature.The group seldom called for a direct confrontation with the ruler (al haakem), which was a recourse of last resort if he stopped abiding by the rule of Sharia or if he became obstructionist. The Brotherhood wanted full legitimacy on its side and projected an image of being the "aggressed," not the aggressors. Members acted as hardworking militants transforming the society in which they live into a gruyere. Their ideal plan is to make ideological reversal impossible. Educational and media institutions are the ideal tools for their campaigns. Their impact will be felt across the school system and in many cases within the media web. This trait was omnipresent in the audiotapes I examined as the government's expert in one particular terror case. The speaker, a Salafi cleric from Egypt whose words reached as far as Detroit, said clearly: "We need to preachjihad in schools; the culture of jihad must become the first nature of our youth."

Indeed, the Brotherhood's ideology is clear and self-explanatory. The path to power resembles a pyramid, from the community up to the governing bodies. The Ikhwan's jihad is more flexible politically than that of the Wahabis, although they are equivalent ideologically. The Brotherhood has accepted, for example, the need to participate in the political process, including legislative elections. Although inconsistent with their Islamic fundamentalist vision, which does not accept the concepts of republic, democracy, secularism, nonreligious courts, and so on, the Brotherhood and related organizations practiced the "political path." In Jordan, the group has an official presence in parliament. It has accommodated to the political structure in the hope of achieving further inroads. Will elections eliminate the struggle for the caliphate? Many westerners thought they would, but they have not understood the very long-term strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1991 the Front de Salut Islamique (FSI), an offshoot of the Ikhwan, ran for election in Algeria and won more than 51 percent of the seats. Many citizens frustrated with the previous totalitarian government voted for the FSI, despite the fact that it signaled openly that it would transform the republic into an "Islamist state" with all that entails: elimination of political parties that disagree with a new constitution and ultimately elimination of pluralism and the basic institutions of the republic.9 The Muslim Brotherhood invented "political jihad," which means using democracy to come to power so that one can destroy democracy. Most western analyses, particularly academic research, overlooked this dimension of jihadism. American and European scholars imagined that any step toward some democratic practices was a slow concession toward liberalization. The western apologists could not comprehend the overarching global goals of the modern jihadists; and they made the same analytical mistake with regard to jihadi violence.

A general tactic in their speeches are to  make a distinction between the violent and the nonviolent Islamists. But the ten years in Algeria were a hell waged by the Muslim Brotherhood Salafis against seculars; more than 150,000 were killed for example. Many scholars in the United States and western Europe seriously misunderstood the Muslim Brotherhood jihadists. In fact there were and are distinctions, but these are drawn by the fundamentalists themselves. They can chose to be violent or nonviolent at their discretion-not at the discretion of western experts.

Sadat used the mechanisms of the state-particularly its control over education, media, and the official religious institutions--to actively promote religion in the public sphere, also supported Islamic student groups on Egypt's campuses, many of whom would later form the basis of Egypt's militant groups.

While the current regime has sought to libera1ize the economy, politically it continues to dominate all facets of public life. Political opposition is tightly controlled, and the use of extra-legal means to limit dissent is not uncommon.

Similarly, elections are regularly manipulated, and elements of civil society that engage in political activism run the risk of arrest and government harassments. State elites have also sought to control ideological dis course through censorship and. control of the mass media. To this end, the Egyptian government has used its control over religious institutions at all levels of society to promote Islam as a means of cultivating political quiescence and obedience to authority.

Thus State actors in Egypt often appeal to Islam in order to situate their rule within a broader framework, and to tie the Egyptian public to its political leaders in a web of rights and duties defined by religious obligation. The significance, and viability, of this approach is based upon the majority population's continuing identification with, and belief in, Islam. Despite the perceived 'secular' quality of the Egyptian state and its leaders, it has never, in fact, broken with its religious moorings, preferring instead a time honored use of 'official Islam' to sanction political authority. Even during Gamal Abd' al-Nasser's rule (case study above), the modernizing state never sought to eradicate religious belief. Rather, the regime appealed to a more modernist interpretation of Islam in order to challenge traditional elites and to sanctify its socialist program of development.The use of Islam for political ends was even more important for Nasser's successors-Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarek-who lacked bis charisma and the early optimism of the post-independence era.

The policies of the Sadat regime, however, represented a significant break with his predecessor. Sadat embraced a more conservative Islam in an effort to redefine the direction of Egyptian politics. As part of this transformation, Sadat allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudi Royal family and other traditional elites in opposition to bis Communist and Nasserist rivals on the left. He also used the mechanisms of the state-particularly its control over education, media, and the official religious institutions—to actively promote religion in the public sphere. Sadat also supported Islamic student groups on Egypt's campuses, many of whom wou1d later form the basis of Egypt's militant groups. Sadat' s inability to rein in the more extreme members of the Islamist movement, however, and bis ultimate assassination, demonstrated the failure of the regime to control either the forces or ideas that it bad set in motion. (Nabil Abdel-Fattah. Veiled Violence: Islamic Fundamentalism in Egyptian Polities in the 1990’s, Cario, 1994, p. 19).

In fact the relationship between religion and polities in Egypt has a long history, though one that is neither as unified nor as unproblematie as many would argue. Religious and political authorities developed quite distinetly from one another within Sunni Islam, and generated a system of dual authority replicated throughout the Islamic world. The two elements of this system tended to cooperate because they needed each other: political rulers required legitimacy, while religious leaders needed temporal authorities to uphold Islamic law. The relationship between these two forms of authority, however, was not an easy one.

Political leaders actively sought to control the religious authorities-as well as the actual doctrine of Sunni Islam-to more ably pursue their temporal ends. They were also not above using force to attain such compliance.The ulema, on the other band, struggled to maintain their independence, with many recognizing the corrupting influence of political power both on themselves and upon Islamic doctrine. Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali summed up his suspicion of political rulers as such: "Three kinds of relations are possible with princes, govemors, and oppressors. The tirst and worst is that you visit them. Somewhat better is the second whereby they visit you; but best of all is the third in which you keep your distance so that you neither see thein, nor they see you." (See Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, Ihya' 'Ulam al-Din, Book 14: Kitab al-Halala wa al-Haram).

If the pre-modern era was characterized by a system of dual authority-with each attempting to gain the upper hand over the other-the early modem era is best characterized by the emerging dominance of the political. With the French occupation in 1798, Egypt was opened to the modernizing influences of European political, economic and ideological thought. Tbe subsequent transformation of Egypt's social and political life was undertaken in the 19th century by Muhamad Ali (1805-1863) and, later, by his successor the Khedive Ismail (1863-79). A key element of their program was the elimination of the previously dominant Mamluk leadership, as well as the curtailment of the other major center ofpower: the traditional religious elite. Reining in the ulema entailed, above all, separating them from their source of economic livelihood [tax farms and 'religiously endowed properties' (awaqaj)], as weIl as minimizing their control over education and the law. The first of these two steps were designed to make the ulema dePendent upon the ruler, and paved the way for subsequent step, the introduction of western-style education and legal codes. (See Nabil Abdel Fatah, Quran and Sword: Stole-Religion Conflict in Egypt, Cairo, 1998).

In 1882, when Egypt was on the verge of defaulting on its debt held largely by British investors, the British took over the country and set up a mechanism for repayment. The precipitating crisis was the Urabi revolt.

Egypt gained formal independence from England in 1922, though was effectively controlled by British influence until 1952. The British rote in Egypt, bowever, dates back to the end ofthe Napoteonic era, when they sunk mucb ofthe Frencb fleet in Alexandria barbor. Their infIuence was also feit throughout the 1911. But the corresponding social revolution helped to establish the dominance of a secular elite in areas traditionally controlled by religious scholars, and left to the latter only a very limited (and re-conceived) realm of religion.

The era of Mnhammad Ali, then, was a defining moment in the modernization of Egypt, and was characterized by the diminished influence of the ecclesiastic caste within Egyptian politica1 life. This program of secular modernization was an integral part of the process of state formation, and was driven by adesire to emulate European development.

The political and social transformation of this era also set the stage for early nationalist period, and the liberal experiment of 1922-52. The nationalist revolution of 1919-which led to the formal withdrawal ofBritish colonial rule in 1922 - and the idea of a state based upon national, not necessarily religious, loyalties defined the first half of the 20th century. The constitution adopted in 1923 reflected the intellectuaI ferment of this time, and embraced liberal secular principles that provided a basis of common citizenship not premised upon religion. It also placed control of education, law and justice in the bands of the secular and modernizing state, a sharp departure from earlier practice.

This period also marked the emergence of an Islamic reform movement led by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897), and his disciples, Moh’ad Abduh (18491905) and Rasbid Rida (1865-1935). A Persian and thus not Sunni by birth Jamal al-Din sought to respond to European dominance by reinterpreting Islam for the modem era.

His student Abduh later served as Mufti of Egypt (Chief Judge of the Sharia Courts), and was a leading reformer within al-Azhar, the pre-eminent university and mosque complex in Egypt.

The reformers' approach was both political as weIl as religious. Theologically, they sought to reinterpret Islam within a modem context, and to demonstrate that Islam could viably challenge Western modes of modemization. Underlying this was a recognition of the importance of science and reason for material progress, and the corresponding dangers of a religious tradition defmed by 'unquestioning imitation' (taqlid), yet  would become a model for Islamic activists in years to come.

Rashid Rida, Abduh's disciple, took a more conservative interyretation of Islamic tradition, despite his embrace of Abduh's general approach. He led what was known as the Salafiyya movement, which represented the primary opposition to the secularism of the 1920's and 30's. Hasan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, was deeply influenced by Rida and the Salafiyya movement. While they both differed with Abduh on some issues, they shared with the reformist movement an emphasis on religious reinterpretation and political activism. They also shared a common animosity to Western dominance and continued influence in Egypt. To this end, the early Islamists believed, as did the ruling liberal parties, that Egypt was a unique nation-state, and deserved independence. While all of these groups were committed to an amorphous Egyptian nationalism, they differed greatly over what this entailed.

While the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafiyyas interpreted Egyptian nationalism in Islamic terms, the liberal parties advocated a more secular and cosmopolitan conception of the nation. This divide marked the contemporary origins ofthe debate over Egypt's social order, as well as the beginnings ofthe 're-traditionalization of Islam.' (See Denis Sullivan and Sana Abed-Kotob, Islam in Contemporary Egypt: CMI Society, 1999).

The early success ofliberal nationalism in Egypt, however, was short-lived due to an absence of consensus about the basis of political life. Though the liberal nationalists had emerged as politically dominant in the aftermath ofthe 1919 revolt-benefiting from the deep animosity to Britisb rule, and the fear that tbe Western powers were undermining Islam-their ideas of liberal secularism remained somewhat alien to the deeply religious population. Moreover, the inability of the constitutional government to deal with such core issues as socio-economic development, corruption and continuing British influence, discredited what little faith there was in the idea of democratic constitutionalism. Not surprisingly, alternative movements expanded to fiIl the ideological vacuum. These included the right wing nationalist Misr al-Fatat (Young Egypt) - modeled on the fascist parties of Italy and Germany - as weIl as the Muslim Brotherhood, and severalleft wing parties including the Communists and socialists. The communalist orientation of all these groups reflected the resurgence of such tendencies in Europe during the same time period (1930's and 40's).

Although the left-wing communalism of Nasser's Arab socialism and the right wing Islamic communalism of the Muslim Brotherhood differed over the basis of society, they shared a common rejection of the individualism inherent within the liberal democratic idea.

In the post-1952 Egypt context then Gamal Abd al-Nasser and the ‚Free Officers’ then sought to overthrow was dominated by a landed aristocracy, a corrupt monarch, and continuing British influence.

The nationalist movement that had grown up in the inter-war period-and which opposed both the British and the Monarchy-reflected the diversity of Egyptian society at the time: the Muslim Brotherhood on the right, the Communists on the left, and the liberal party in the middle. All of these parties agreed on the twin goals of economic development and independence from foreign rule, but differed over the means of achieving them. Many in the military-the only stable institution in Egyptian society-saw the politicians as unable to accomplish either of these goals, and, in 1952, a small group of them overthrew the government of King Farouk and sent him into exile.

The 1952 revolution, was little more than a coup. (For details see). Nasser and the Free Officers did not lead a mass movement, nor did they espouse a clear ideology. What did separate them from their rival claimants was their control of the armed forces. This provided them the ability to take power, and to institute some degree of order. The failings of the ancien regime, moreover, and its inability to improve life for ordinary Egyptians, disposed the population favorably toward the young officers of modest origins. While there remained skepticism that the new rulers would be any different from the old, there was some reason for hope. The dissolution of the monarchy and the departure of British troops in 1954 marked the end of Ottoman and European control of Egyptian politics. As such, it was "the fust time in over two thousand years . . . [that] Egypt was ruled by Egyptians." (AI-Sayyid Marsot, A Short History of Egypt, Cambridge University Press, 1998 )

Egypt's first President, General Muhammed Naguib, was a leading advocate of the return to parliamentary mle, but was deposed by Nasser and placed under hause arrest in 1954. It was only after the coup, then, that the struggle to define the revolution began in earnest. lnitially, this entailed a concerted effort to expand state control of Egyptian society, and to restrncture economic and social relations along socialist and secular lines.It also entailed a concerted effort to build a populist-and nationalist-basis of support.

These two features of the Nasser period would come to define the post-1952 era: the emphasis on a strong, centra1ized state, and the continuing struggle to cultivate popular acceptance and support for military rule. We early on when this website started already mentioned that, many German military officers and Nazi party officials were granted sanctuary in Middle Eastern countries, most notably Egypt and Syria, where they helped develop the militaries and intelligences agencies of those countries.

See Case Study P.2:

Nasser and the Free Officers saw the state as the vehicle for modernizing and transforming Egyptian society. Basing its policies upon both the Nazi and the Soviet model, the regime created a one-party state whose influence spread into all areas of Egyptian life. While there was a split within the ruling elite over whether or not to return to constitutional rule, this ended with the marginalization of its advocates and the emerging dominance of Nasser. The core institutions of the new state, then, remained the armed forces, the newly expanded security services (the mukhabarat), and the single party. These were initially directed by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), though later came under control ofthe office oftbe president. The Nasser regime also sought to eliminate its potential rivals by banning tbe political parties that bad been controlled by tbe landed elite and which had dominated Egyptian politics in the inter-war years. While the Muslim Brotberhood was allowed to continue its activities in return for its support of the revolution, this ended in 1954.

Economica1ly, tbe regime promoted major initiatives on land reform and state-led development. This reflected a commitment to socio-economic reform and a more equitable distribution of wealth. It was also indicative of Nasser's political strategy. The land reform, in particular, was intended to dis-empower traditional elites-both the landowners and religious leaders-who opposed the regime's policies. It was also designed to generate support among the peasantry. who were the major beneficiaries of the policy. State-promoted industrialization was also intended 10 provide jobs 10 urban workers, a major constituency of the new regime. Moreover. Nasser mobilized these "subordinate classes against landed elites and private business elites." (Maye Kassem, Egyptian Politics: The Dynamics of Authoritarian Rufe, 2004, p. 13).

By emphasizing the class divisions of society. Nasser was able to cultivate popular support for his policies. and to stigmatize the 'feudal elements' and 'reactionaries' who opposed the regime. The rapid expansion of the public sector . and the nationalization of various industries, also created a new class whose interests were tied closely to those of the state.

These efforts to centralize political and economic control of the country went hand in hand with the effort to construct a new basis of state authority. In order to mobilize popular support, the regime undertook a number of public speaking toms and used the mass media to communicate directly to the masses, bypassing traditional political channels. The dissolution of political parties and the subsequent development of a single mass party was a central part ofthis strategy. By removing the mechanisms by which alternative political interests could be organized, the regime was better able to control opposition groups.

It also helped to exclude supportive interests, such as students and unions, from real power. Aseries" of political organizations were subsequently created, which included the Liberation Rally (1953), the National Union (1956), and, finally, the Arab Socialist Union (1962). While the first two parties floundered, either for organizational reasons or for lack of an agenda, the Arab Socialist Union proved more effective.

Like we suggested in the above Case Study P.2, it cannot be said that Islamists promoted a fascist concept of state. However, especially after the visit by Baldur von Schirach (as leader of German youth) to the Midlle-East in 1937, paramili­tary youth organizations  became a popular phenomenon. These authoritarian structure, fascist slogans, and contacts with Germans and Italians, and their presence in NSDAP rallies (together with politicians) in Nuremberg were in fact a source of anxiety for the British and the French. British government also sent a special commission headed by Earl Peel to investigate the matter. In its report of 1937, the commission proposed termination of the mandate and partition of Palestine (one-fifth of the land to go as a Jewish state, an Arab state in the rest of the country, and minor areas remaining under British mandate, in addition to Transjordan .

But as Jeffry Bale recently formulated it for the Encyclopedia of World Fascism, “Nasir's Harakat al-Dubbat al-Ahrar (Free Officers' Movement] in Egypt ), is arguably more akin to the pan-European ("Nation Europa") notions promoted by many post­war neofascist movements. Indeed, neofascist activists in Europe have periodically offered support, and not only rhetorically, to their comrades." (World Fascism Vol.1, ed.Blamires/Jackson, 2006, p. 84).

In fact Nasser's approach to dealing with the Egyptian left also reflected that of the Islamists, and fluctuated between repression and limited cooperation. After an initial suppression of the communist party and the labor movement in the early 1950's, aperiod of rehabilition and collaboration was begun in 1961, reflecting the regime's closer ties to the Soviet Union. (Hamried Ansari, Egypt, The Stalled Society, University of New York , 1986, p. 92).

What Nasser sought from these various mass parties was not a vehicle for participation, but, rather, a mechanism for building consent. In developing these new political organizations, Nasser was able to expand the social base of the regime to the lower classes who bad previously been excluded from politicallife. This marked a new era of politics, defined by populist appeals and mass mobilization. It also reflected a new social contract. The peasantry and the working c1asses accepted the authoritarianism of a new 'military-bureaucratic elite' in exchange for the promise of higher living standards and economic opportunity. Thus, "by destroying the party system and replacing parliamentary democracy with the referendum, [Nasser] brought the Egyptian (and Arab) masses into play [ushering in a new era ofEgyptian politics]." (Ibrahim Ibrahim, "Religion and Polities under Nasser and Sadat," in Freyer Barbara Stowasser, ed., The Islamic Impulse,Washington: Center for Contemporary Studies, 1987, p. 125).

Arab socialism one should mention, was not intended to replicate the Soviet system-particularly its hostility to religion-but, rather, to adapt it to an Arab context. The more defming feature of Nasser era, though, was Arab Nationalism, the basis of which was a belief that the Arab peopIes-defined by language, history and culture-were a 'nation' and ought therefore to be politically unified. This was an important element in developing an inclusive Arab identity not based on religious affiliation.

Rather, it was a secular ideology that embraced Arab Christians as well as Muslims, and placed each on an equal footing. Plus there was a strong anti-imperialist sentiment to Arab nationalism, which saw the European powers as a primary obstac1e to Arab development. Despite a failed political union with Syria (1958-61), and animosity from the Gulf monarchies, Nasser's continued advocacy of this ideal emphasized the international focus of the regime and made him a hero among the Arab masses.

The Suez crisis of 1956, the appeal of third world nationalism, and a failed attempt on Nassser's life all heightened the charismatic quality of the new leader. The capacity of the state to monitor and control its perceived enemies also grew in these early years with the expansion of the state security forces. The adoption of a series of constitutions between 1956 and 1964 continued this trend.

These provided for a  greater concentration of power within the office of the presidency, and, at least in the 1964 constitution, a new system of security courts to try political cases. What ultimately emerged was a strong centralized state that was able to mobilize popular sentiment behind the ideology of Arab nationalism. As one commentator phrased it, "identification with the people in a ritualized cult of symbolic relationships went hand in hand with the development of the control funetion of the nation-sta1e, the formation of an elite of army officers, and the use of rubber stamp organizations and assemblies." (Michael Gilsenan, ''Popular Islam and the State in Contemporary Egypt," in Fred Halliday and Hamza Alavi, eds., State and ldeology in the Middle East and Pakistan, p. 171).

The primary ideological challenge to the Nasser regime throughout its tenure however, remained three residual elements ofthe old order: (1) the loyalties ofthe establishment ulema (religious scholars) to the landowning c1ass, (2) the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood, and (3) the grip of traditional Islam on the population.

Thus Nasser, undertook a well-publicized pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca in 1954, fulfilling one of the primary commandments of Islam. Similarly, the government sought to gain greater control over the mosques throughout the country (both public and private) by placing them under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Religious Endowments. Thus between 1952 and 1962, the govemment built or helped fund upwards of 1500 mosques, and virtually doubled the personnellevels in government mosques. (Anwar Alam, Religion and State: Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Delhi, 1998, p. 87).

But while the previously  mentioned ‚Muslim Brotherhood’ was initially supportive of the Free Officers, their relationship was a complicated one. It had long standing ties with many of the Free Officers, including relations with both Nasser and Sadat who some believe had previously been members.( Hamid Ansari, Egypt, The Stalled Society, American University in Cairo Press, 1986, p. 82).

Moreover, its initial support of the revolution was important for the Free Officers in both challenging the secular Wafd party and in providing a religious sanction for the mili.tarY takeover (what the Brotherhood referred to originally as the "Blessed Movement''). The Brotherhood had been a major force in Egyptian politics throughout the 1930's and 40's, and, despite repression under the old regime, it retained an extensive grass roots network as well as a militant wing and  long-standing opposition to the Monarchy and the British also gave the organization a great deal of legitimacy, which the Free Officers initially sought to co-opt.(See Barry Rubin, Islamic Fundamentalism in Egyptian Politics, 1990).

Relations between the two groups, however, broke down fairly quickly. This was due, to the fact  that the Brotherhood had hoped that their support for the new government would translate into a genuine power sharing arrangement. This, however, did not materialize, and instead a competition between both the Brotherhood and the Free Officers over the same constituency (urban laborers, rural peasaIits and the lower middle classes) ensuid.

The question of power sharing was complicated by the fact that there were sharp divisions between the Free Officers and the Brotherhood over Egypt's future. While the Free Officers, and Nasser in particular, sought to modernize Egypt along secular and socialist lines, the Brotherhood advocated a more central role of religion in public life-defmed as areturn to tradition-as apre-requisite for aresurgent Egypt. In essence, the divide hinged upon the compatibility of Islam with the secular mission of the modemizing state. While members of the Muslim Brotherhood argued for a religious state as apre-requisite for an Islamic community, many of the Free Officers did not believe that such an alternative was either necessary or beneficial.

The debate over these competing visions was reflected in two books that were published during this,period. The first of these was Khalid Muhammad Khalid's Min Huna Nabda (From Here We Start, published in 1950). It echoed that true Islam has little to say about the nature of political or social order, and thus the type of State structure to be  adopted was entirely open. According to this interpretation, there was nothing inconsistent between. Islam and a secular state, as long as certain minimal prohibitions were upheld. Moreover, secularism would in fact be preferable given the danger of linking religious and politica1 power too closely. As Khalid argued in the book, a religious state would binder Egypt's development since the unification of religious and politica1 authority would be corrupting on both sides, and would more likely undermine the development of liberty and justice than create it. What was truly needed, he argued, was a social revolution, an alternative that would be hindered by a ''priesthood" that "colluded with tyrants," and-in their pursuit of power-used religion to "keep the people poor and ignorant."(Albert Hourani, Arabie Thoughl in the Liberal Age: 1798-1938, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 353). The above debate is also discussed in Nadav Saftan, Egypt in Seareh of Politieal Community: An Analysis of The intelleetual anti Politieal Evolution ofEgypt 1804-1952 (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1961). See also Mullaney, The Role of Islam in the Hegemonie Strateg)' of Egypt's Military Ru/ers, p. 160-1. For more background on both Kalid and Abd al-Raziq see also Leonard Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique ofDevelopment ldeologies (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1988).

Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazzali represented the Muslim Brotherhood's position in this debate, and articulated it in a text written to rebut Khalid's book entitled Min Huna Na'lam (Dur Beginning in Wisdom), though more literally From Here We Learn, published in 1950. It argued that Islam is a "comprehensive program" meant to regulate all facets ofhuman existence, not least ofwbich the politica1 and social. To preclude Islam from a central role in goveming the state would, therefore, be a violation ofGod's revelation. In terms of the structure of an Islamic state he  was somewhat vague; al-Ghazali simply argued that ''the duties of the state are clearly and precisely outlined in the Qur'an and the Sunna (tradition)...'' (Saftan, Egypt in Search ofPolitical Community, p. 235).

The need for an Islamic state, he argued, nonetheless remained c1ear. The retum to Islam was a pre-requisite for a revived Muslim community, and this was all the more important given the imminent threat to Islam posed by a 'hostile, Christian West.'

In making his arguments, al-Ghazzali appealed to the communal sentiments of a religious population and called upon them to defend their tradition. Not only was Islam ''threatened with extermination ''-- but those such as Khalid who argued for a secular political authority were betraying their faith and were, in bis words, "puppets of the enemies of Islam." And those such as Khalid who argued for a secular political authority were betraying their faith and were, in bis words, "puppets of the enemies of Islam." (Cited in Saftan, Egypt in Search of Political Community, pp. 236-37).

This conflict between the Brotherhood and the Free Officers came to a head in 1954. The Brotherhood bad been deeply divided over how to deal with Nasser' s intransigence on their core issues of creating an Islamic state and sharing power. One faction, which included Hasan al-Banna's successor, Hasan al-Hodeibi, sought to work with Nasser and "persuade [him] to turn toward Islam." Another faction, led by Sayyid Qutb, pressed for a more forceful confrontatiOIi that would entail Nasser's overthrow. Hodeibi was arrested in the Fall of 1954, and shortly afterwards an assassination attempt was made on Nasser's life, reputedly by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Seven thousand members of the Brotherhood were subsequently arrested in a concerted effort to eradicate their influence within the military, the police and other areas of Egyptian society. A military tribunal subsequently convicted 800 members of the Brotherhood on charges of conspiring to overthrow the state, and six of its leaders were executed.

The above situations  are  discussed in Nadav Saftan, Egypt in Seareh of Politieal Community: An Analysis of The intelleetual anti Politieal Evolution of Egypt 1804-1952 (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1961); Mullaney, The Role of Islam in the Hegemonie Strateg)' of Egypt's Military Rulers, p. 160-1. For more background on both Kalid and Abd al-Raziq see also Leonard Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development ldeologies (University of Chicago Press, 1988).

The detining issue was whether or not Islam is compatible with secular principles, and whether the Egyptian state ought to be more explicitly Islamic. But as in other places, these debates also have been  influenced by the struggle for political power.

But as the political violence of the 1990' s escaIated-and the structuraI crises that facilitated this violence worsened-the now, Mubarek regime became more dependent upon a discourse of conservative Islam to sanction its continued rule. This increased the government's reliance upon the official ulema (religious scholars) of Al-Azhar (a mosque university complex headed by the Sheikh of Al-Azhar).' the Dar al-Ifta (House of Fatwas, headed by the Grand Mufti) and other elements of the official religious establishment.

While the official ulema may have opposed the militants' use of violence, they generally shared the vision of society advocated by the Islamist movement. What subsequently emerged in the earIy to mid-1990's, then, was adynamie whereby the struggle for political power between the Islamist opposition groups and the ruling government was not defmed by competing visions of social order, but, rather, by competing claims of religious authenticity. As a result, the regime ceded much of the cultural and religious ground to the Islamist tendencies in an effort to depict itself as the authentie defender of Islam.

It also helped to ereate an environment where the persecution of religious minorities (particularly Coptic Christians) and attacks upon secular intellectuals occurred without official opposition, and often with its complicity. Thus, even though the state was able to defeat the militants in the field, its embrace of conservative Islam validated the Islamist critique and helped to transform Egyptian publie life. The end result was that the government's own efforts to co-opt conservative Islam greatly undermined the development of an inclusive basis of national identity, and the corresponding "rights [to] participation and equal eitizenship. (See Tamir Moustafa, "Conflict and Cooperation between the State and Religious Institutions in Contemporary Egypt," International Journal of  Middle East Studies, 32, Feb. 2000).

Nasser earlier however had already abolished the sharia courts which had operated as a parallel court system since the 19th century, and merged them into the national judiciary. While the stated goal was to unify a fragmented judiciary, it had the effect ofbringing this alternate court system under the direct control of the state. In 1961 also, Nasser passed a law that  re-organized AI-Azhar university, and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religious Endowments.This entailed the introduction or the first time, of modem courses of learning into the university's curriculum, including medicine and engineering. (Malika Zeghal, "Religion and Politics in Egypt: The Ulama of aI-Azhar, Radical Islam, and the State 1952-54," International Journal ofMiddle East Studies. 31, No. 3,August 1999, p. 314).

Previously, the court and educational systems in Egypt had been divided between the private, Islamic and national systems. Both the reform of the sharia courts and of AI-Azhar were designed to end this separation, and unify both systems under the control of the state. (For more on this, see Jakob Skovgaaard-­Peterson, Defining lslam for the Egyptian State: Muftis and Fatwas ofthe Dar al-Ifta, 1991, p. 184).

Nevertheless, while the Nasserist state was defined by a program of  modernization-and derived much of its authority from the idea of Arab nationalism-it found ample justification for its mission in the fatwas (religious rulings) of the religious establishment. The regime also established the Supreme Council on Islamic affairs whose primary purpose was to demonstrate a connection between the state and Islam. (Moustafa, Conflict and Cooperation between the State and Religions Institutions in Contmporary Egypt, p. 7).

Not surprising, Saudi Arabia innitially was deeply troubled by, the populist rhetoric and policies of the Egyptian regime. Nasser, on the other hand, perceived Saudi Arabia as a bastion of conservative reaction actively working against his interests. Both the Saudis and the Egyptians subsequently sought to offset the other's influence in the region by setting up competing Islamic institutions to promote their respective agendas. The culmination of this, was the outbreak of war with Yemen in 1962. (See Malcolm Kerr, The Arab Cold War: Gamal Abd Al-Nosir and His Rivals. 1958-1970, Oxford University Press, 1971).

Not unlike the Nazi’s before (or at least in contrast to the the Soviet system), Nasser believed that creating a state-controlled monopoly on religion would be useful in supporting his regime against both internal and external enemies. Moreover, the strength and popularity of Islam throughout Egypt precluded the Nasserists from attempting to suppress it in the way that Ataturk had done in Turkey thirty years before.

Cultivating a modernist Islam, while suppressing the more radical interpretations, was thus an essential element of Nasser's mass politics. Far from being hostile to religion, Islam became integrated into the state apparatus in order to provide it with ideological support."Islam became, in effect, a creature of the regime. "(Katerina Dalacoura, Islam, liberalism and human rights, 1998, p. 119).Thus although  channeled and controlled by the state, the use of religion within a nationalist discourse remained a key link between the modemizing state and its traditional population.

This however  came to an end with  Egypt's defeat by Israel in the six day war of June 1967. As Fouad Ajami notes, among those who wanted to get to the deep structure behind the defeat there was a consensus that the heroes of yesterday had made too many compromises, "The Arabs had tumed away from God, and God bad turned away from them." (Ajami, The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice Since 1967, Cambridge University Press 1992, p. 74).

Then Nasser died in September, 1970, and was succeeded by his vice­ President Anwar Sadat. Sadat's efforts were encouraged by members of the military and by influential people within the state ministries, all of whom shared a common distrust and antipathy for the Socialist party. The conflict between the two came to a head in May of 1971, when Socialist supporters were accused of conspiring to overthrow the govemment. This led to the arrest of ninety members of the Socialist party, and their removal from positions in the govemment. In the aftermath, Sadat undertook a major restructuring of the state that eliminated the 'alternate power centers.' This series of events came to be known as the 'Corrective Revolution.'

While the basic contours of the system remained the same-in terms of the centrality of a strong state, and the cultivation of a populist nationalism a socialist but also the secular vision of development, were abandoned.

Sadat's new direction also included a new set of alliances with economic and religious elites as a bulwark against the left, and a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia. And although also Nasser had used religion to provide legitimacy to his rule, Sadat embraced Islam with much greater fervor. His main concern was to provide a counterweight to the socialist ideas that continued to dominate Egyptian public life. In his speeches, Sadat emphasized (and often conflated) the ideas of religious morality and Egyptian nationalism in order to reinforce traditional patterns of authority and social order. For example he told the National Assembly; '' I want us to return to the village source, to our origin. .. I want tbe constitution to take this into account, not only for the sake orthe villages. but so that the whole of Egypt should take shape in the way and become a single village. " Aulas, "State and Ideology in Republican Egypt: 1952, p. 82).

 Sadat's alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood thus was part of an effort to provide a grass roots basis to his rule, and to help him contain the left. According to several reports, the Brotherhood agreed to renounce the use of violence and promised not to engage in anti-regime activities in exchange for their fteedom and the right to continue their peaceful advocacy of Islam. (See AIi Eshmawy, The Secret History ofthe Muslim Brotherhood Movement, Cairo, 1993).

Leaders of the Brotherhood were also involved in drafting sections of the 1971 constitution, and were allowed to participate in parliamentary elections, although not as a registered party. During the period of Sadat's rule, the number of government controlled mosques more than doubled from  3000 to 7,000, while the total number of mosques grew from roughly 15,000 mosques in the mid-1960's to 27,000 mosques in 1980. (See Carrie Rosefsky Wickharn, Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism and Politica/ Change in Egypt, Columbia University Press, 2003).

Mohamed Heikal in addition reported that ,"Knowing they had the support of higher [government] authority,  Islamic students began to behave as if it was they who were running the universities. They decided what subjects were suitable to be taught, [Moreover] it was clear that the religious students were not simply tolerated by the authorities but actively encouraged by them." (Heika, Autumn of Fury: The Assassination of Sadat , London, 1983, pp. 133-4).

The extent of the government's support however, remains a point of dispute. Muslim Brothers deny any overt support from the government, and leftist activists, recall that the security services actively supported the election of Islamic candidates to student union offices. There were also claims that security forces used to arm Islamists, and that the number of [Islamist] groups mushroomed runder the umbrella of state security (see Heikal, Atumn of Fury, on these issues).

Save is to say that historicly during periods of good relations with Soviets, the Leftists were treated better, while during periods of Saudi influence, the Islamists were treated better. The repression which each leader visited on these groups was often a signal that their external relations were in trouble. Also, the liberalization of economic policies certainly allowed for a greater flow of funds from abroad, many of which benefited from the oil boom, and  helped  finance the Muslim Brotherhood during the earIy 1970's.The adoption of a new Constitution in 1971 was similarly meant to reflect a greater role of Islam in Egyptian politics. It designated Islam  the official state religion, and the Sharia as "a principle source of legislation."

But while the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic student groups were initially supportive of Sadat, these organizations proved to be unreliable allies. Particularly the Brotherhood  was rebuilding its network and relied upon the goodwill of the regime to continue its work. (See also Patrick Gaffuey, The Prophet's Pulpit: lslamic Preaching in Contemporary Egypt, 1994).

The deference to the government ended with Sadat's trip to Israel, and Sadat's  relations with the United States. The regime's reluctance to completely implement Islamic law remained another point of contention. The subsequent re-emergence of Islamic violence indicated that the state had set in motion something that it was not able to control.

While the ruling party-the National Democratie Party-advocates a modernist ideology of development, both the Mubarak and Sadat regimes consistently sought to situate their authority within a framework linked to Islamie tradition. More importantly, the active promotion of Islam through state-run media and the official religious establishment has been a key factor in explaining the resurgence of eonservative Islamic polities. Not only did this contribute to the re-emergence of the long-standing debates over the nature of Egypt's social order, but it helps to explain the partieular outcome. By attempting to appear more culturally authentie than its religious opposition, state actors contributed greatly to the construetion of an Islamie social order defined by exclusive eonceptions of national identity and conservative interpretations of religion. (See also Fouad Ajami, "The Sorrows of Egypt," Foreign Affairs, September/October, 1995).

This role of state actors in promoting eonservative Islam helps to explain, then, two key anomalies in contemporary Egyptian polities. The first was the emerging dominance of Islamist polities in the aftermath of the government's victory over its militant opposition in the 1990's. While the militants failed to dislodge the regime, the Islamist critique had nonetheless taken hold and the vernacular of political discourse was fundamentally transformed. This raised the inevitable question: ''why had this occurred?" Why weren't the victors able to defme the new 'rules of the game'?

Related to this was a second anomaly: why did the regime tolerate a religious establishment that was, outspoken and moving "closer to the Islamists ideas and further away from the official line?" (Dalacoura, Islam, Liberalism anti Human Rights, p. 126-7).

While conventional wisdom tends to attribute the resurgence of Islam to popular unrest or an inherent religiosity among the population, the approach defined here emphasizes the important role of the state in creating an environment where Islamist politics tlourished. The state politicized not just the ulema, but the discourse of conservative Islam. It even went so far as to support some of the groups that would later emerge as its prlmary opponents. In this way, the government' s politicization of religion helped to validate the ideas and organizations associated with the Islamist movement, and ushered in a new era of religious politics.

The implications of this instrumental manipulation of religion have been significant.
Not only has it contributed to greater communalization of the polity, but it has helped to create an environment where the persecution of Coptic Christians, secular intellectuals and those with dissenting religious opinions has occurred with regularity (and often with state complicity). The most significant victim ofthe ideological battles of the last thirty years, then, has been the conception of Egypt as a plural society. The right to differ, either intellectually or politically, has been stigmatized and often equated with either heresy or treason. But by relying upon coercive state structures to constrain dissent, and by using Islam to promote political quiescence, the state continues to exclude large segments of the population from public life, and undercuts the possibility of developing a truly open society. Minority rights, political development, civil society and regional stability will all remain problematic issues for the near future.

The Islamic discourse that now dominates in Egypt has demonstrated intolerant and exclusive tendencies, and as such does not provide the kind of pluralist basis for a what is in fact a diverse society. How this affects Egypt's future remains to be seen, though it is likely that the two opposing elements of Egyptian culture-the secular intellectual and conservative Islamic-will continue to clash. If the state is able to improve economic well-being, increase political participation or otherwise generate alternative sources of legitimacy, its dependency upon religious politics may diminish, and the influence of conservative Islam may lessen. The irony, of course, is that any effort to genuinely open the political arena will seriously threaten the existence of the regime, since free elections would likely benefit the Islamist opposition. In other words, the state has limited its options by embracing conservative Islam as a source of legitimacy.

Increased radicalism of the Islamic networks, led Sadat to give a speech in 1979 where he denounced the student groups by name, and argued that  „those who wish to practice Islam can go to the mosques, and those who wish to engage in politics may do so through legal institutions." (Hopwood, Egypt: State and Society, p. 117).

Sadat next, reversed his steps toward political liberalization in order to reign in the Islamic movement which he had helped create. (David Sagiv, Fundamentalism and Intellectuals in Egypt, 1973-1993, London, 1994, p. 60).

But by then, religious politics had taken on a life of their own. Islamist groups had emerged as the dominant opposition to the state, a movement ironically facilitated by Sadat's own policies and Saudi money. And with his assassination in 1981 by members of al-Jihad, "the genie bad struck him down." (Fouad Ajami, The Dream Palaces of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey, 1998, p. 206).

Interresting, the message of both establishment Islam and the Islamist opposition was becoming increasingly similar throughout this period. Moreover, they all sought a common goal of "bring[ing] Egyptian society back to Islam." (Zeghal, "AI-Azhar and Radical Islam," p. 382).

Unlike Ataturk's Turkey by then (1970), Sadat's Egypt now had become firmly rooted in its Islamic heritage. In fact the assassination of Anwar Sadat, was meant to spark a popular rebellion coordinated by the militant group al-Jihad, but a breakdown in communication prevented many ofthe cells around the eountry from being activated. Members of al-Jihad planned to eapture the radio and television building in eentral Cairo, and begin broadcasting news of the uprising. This would give other members of the organization a signal that the plan was in effect. The failure, however, to capture the building kept many of the cell leaders in the dark, and out of the fight. The government responded by rounding up thousands of suspeeted militants and supporters, 300 of whom were eharged with murder and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Sentences ranged from 3 years to life (plus more than eighty were excecuted), but those that were acquitted left the courthouse chanting "the Islamic Revolution is coming," a clear indication of conflict to come (SulIivan and Abed-Kotob, Islam in Contemporary Egypt, p. 81.).

The Mubarak regime's policies reflected those ofthe Sadat era: tolerating (though constraining) the Muslim Brotherhood, while using the official religious establishment to promote a more obedient Islam. Unlike Sadat, however, Mubarak would rely to a much greater degree upon the security services to deal with the militants, which, in the 1980's and 90's, mounted a significant challenge to the regime.

Influenced by both the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the Afghan war against the Soviets, political Islam emerged as an ideology capable of challenging existing patterns of domination. Political tracts by writers such as al-Banna, Qutb, and Mawlana Mawdudi found a new generation receptive to their message. The subsequent resurgence of a politicized Islam combined the rejectionist ideas of these early writers with the anti Western sentiments that bad informed Nasser's Arab Nationalism. Along with their political and economic critique of the status quo, the Islamists offered a positive message that drew from the cultural and religious tradition of the people. This alternative was detined by a fear that Islam was under attack from the West (and Westemized elites), and that the vulnerability of the umma (community) to such an assault was due to its having strayed from the true path of Islam.

The prescription, then, to such ills was a "return to Islam," an amorphous slogan that entailed a reordering social and political life in accordance with the religious teachings of the Prophet, the Qur'an and the Sunna. (The example of the Prophet Mohamed as it is relayed through Islamic tradition).

Although the specifies remained vague, the Islamists believed it promised a more authentic society, and, as such, represented an indigenous alternative to Western models of development. It also resonated strongly with a dispossessed population, the majority of which were preeluded from any real opportunity for advaneement. As such, Islam became a "potent ideology of popular dissent." (Muhammad Faour, The Arab World After Desert Storm (Washington: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1993, p. 55).

The initial goal was not to destroy Islamie activism, but to temper the extremists and co-opt the moderates, at least long enough for economic reforms to improve living standards. There was never any intention of allowing the Islamist groups into the political arena, or to otherwise share power with them; rather, the state tolerated their existence as long as they did not challenge the regime's right to rule. While Mubarak created space in the religious and cultural spheres for those willing to cooperate with the state-and allowed groups like the Muslim Brothers to continue providing social services-the regime retained full control over what it perceived to be the core issues of economic and foreign poliey.

The official ulema subsequently worked with the regime by offering theological responses and critiques of the militants, and, in particular, their use of violence against fellow Muslims. The ulema continued these efforts throughout the 1990's in part to preserve their institutional interests, and, in part, to continue their propagation of Islam. In return for its cooperation, the Mubarak government provided significant resourees and a degree of independence to AI-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments. (Skovgaaard-Peterson. Defining Islam tor the Egyptian Stole, p. 220).

The Muslim Brotherhood also worked with the Mubarek government in the 1980's, serving  as an intermediary between the state and the Islamic militants. By accepting state authority, the Brotherhood thus was allowed to operate and published a newspaper, al-Da 'wa (tbe Call), for a short period, and continued to provide social seryices throughout Egypt. In tbe 1980's,  young activists were able to bring their experience in university politics to the realm of the professional syndicates. (Gehad Auda, "Tbe Nonnalization of the Islamic Movement in Egypt from the 1970's to the Early 1990's", in Marty and Appleby, Fundamentalisms and the State, University of Chicago Press, 1994, p. 390).

They made early gains in the Engineering Syndicate in the mid-1980's, and by 1987 had won amajority of seats on that board. They made similar imoads into the doctor's and pharmacists associations, and in 1992 they gained control of the board of the lawyer's syndicate. Thus poliey of "mutual accommodation" benefited the Brotherhood in its effort to re-establish itself as the leading Islamic organization in Egyptian society. (See Geneive Abdo. No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, Oxford University Press, 2000).

While the early 1980' s were relatively quiet in Egypt, sporadic violence began in the mid to late-1980's. The violence began with a senes of attacks on Coptic Christians in upper Egypt. Militant groups targeted Copts for the money that could be raised by robbing their shops, and also to strike at the historically cosmopolitan fabric of Egyptiansociety. The state was slow to respond to these attacks, even as they contributed to the communal tensions that had been increasing since the Sadat era. In the late 1980's, the tactics of the militants shifted, as al-Jihad began targeting government officials, particularly, those involved in the security services. In 1987, there were four assassination attempts on government officials, ostensibly undertaken by Islamic Jihad.

In 1989, the Minister oflnterior, Zaki Bar, was targeted by al-Gama'a AI-Islamiyya (the Islamic group), Egypt's second major militant organization. Several months later, in 1990, the speaker of the Egyptian Parliament, Refaat EI Mahgoub, was assassinated. In 1992, Farag Foda, a leading secular critic ofthe Islamists was shot to death outside his home in Cairo. In that same year, other militant groups struck at foreign tourists, a leading source of foreign exchange for the government. When bombs exploded in Cairo, it was dear that the violence of upper Egypt had penetrated the urban life of the capital.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the subsequent war, had an enormous impact upon the capability and direction of these groups. The United States and Saudi Arabia provided significant funding and training for the Mujahadeen forces fighting the Soviet occupation. Working with the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency ofPakistan, the U.S. Cen1ral Intelligence Agency provided upwards of$6 billion in arms, equipment and training over the course of ten years. Moreover this was matched "dollar for dollar" by the Saudi government. (George Crile, "Charlie Did It," Financial Times, June 7-8, 2003).

For its part, the Egyptian government-like other Arab governments-actively encouraged its young men to join the Jihad against the godless communism. Many who bad been jailed for their role in the events of 1981, left for Afghanistan immediately upon their release. This included among others, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Islamic Jihad and future advisor to Osama Bin Laden. Omar Abdel Rahman, spiritual head of al-Gamaa commonly known as the 'Blind Sheikh' was another participant in the broader effort. The Afghan war was also an important moment in the development of an international financial network for "Jihadi" groups. Fundraising organizations were created with branches in Western capitals as weIl as in the Middle East to funnel money into Islamic militancy. When the war ended, these networks and groups continued to operate, and began redirecting their focus to other venues including Kashmir, Chechnya, Algeria and Egypt. (Robert Oakley, former-Ambassador to Pakistan, referenced in Hibbard and Litte, Islamic Activism and US. Foreign Policy, p. 76).

Estimates regarding the number of Egyptians who joined the fight range from several hundred to several thousand, although a11 agree that they were coordinated largely by Islamist organizations. A number of the militant groups, particu1arly al-Jihad, saw this as an opportunity to rebuild their organizations after the repression stemming from Sadat's assassination.The Afghan war subsequently contributed to a new level of conflict between the Egyptian militants and the state. The capacity of both Islamic Jihad and al-Gama 'a, as weIl as the regularity ofviolence, increased dramatically with the return ofthe mujahedin (holy warriors). These returnees had been trained in explosives and guerriIla tactics and many of them had honed their skills in combat. Their expertise was now being turned on the regime in a manner similar to that occurrlng in neighboring countries such as Algeria.

Moreover, the Egyptian military was largely unprepared to deal with this new level of expertise and commitment. Unlike those who bad never left Egypt, these men knew what they were doing. The attempted assassination of Interior Minister Zaki Badr in 1989, for example, demonstrated what the security services now faced. Although the attack failed, the use of explosives detonated by remote control demonstrated a level of sophistication that had not existed earlier in the decade. Of equal concern was the international funders and operatives which gave these groups significant support, a situation created ironically by U.S., Saudi and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

The events leading up to new confrontations between the state and the militants began in early 1990, with a senes of provocations by Islamic activists. While some actions were non-violent-including a peaceful march by the Gama'a al-Islamiyya through one of Cairo' s slums-others were more aggressive, including a number of anti-Christian riots and attacks on churches in upper Egypt. The government responded by going on the offensive; it assassinated the spokesman of tbe Gama'a on the streets of Cairo, and sent its spiritual leader, Sheikh Mubammad Abdel Rahman, into exile.  The Gama ' a retaliated by assassinating Rifaat Mahgoub, the Speaker of the National Assembly. Abdel Rahman eventually received a visa to the United States and set up operations in Jersey City, NI. He was also the 'blind Sheikh' who was later convicted in a U .S. court for bis involvement in the first attack on the World Trade Towers in the early 1990s.

And after a year and a half of relative quiet-during which time the Gulf War occurred, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), was about win-Islamic violence once again escalated. There was a slaughter of 13 Christians in tbe Spring of 1992 by a small faction in upper Egypt, followed by Farag Foda's assassination in June of that year. (This was reflected in a leaked U.S. National Intelligence Estimate reported in tbe London Sunday Times in February 1994 wbicb stated that the Egyptian government was in danger ofbeing overthrown. The report is referenced in Jon Alterman, "Egypt: Stable, but for How Long?" The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2000, p. 108).

While these events did little to provoke the government, it was the subsequent attack on foreign tourists the following Fall-and the Gama'a's announcement of a concerted campaign against Western tourism-that prompted the government to strike back. (It is estimated that the tourist industry brought into Egypt $3.3 Billion annually at this time).

Thousands of people were arrested or detained without charge during these sweeps, with many being tortured and killed in police custody. Despite govemment gains. however, both the Gama 'a and Islamic Jihad continued their operations. These included several assassination attempts on leading state figures, as well as on local police and security officers. Coptic Christians were also targeted for attack. Some of the more  high profile attacks included a failed attempt on the life of Interior Minister Hassan al Alfi, and a similar attempt on the Prime Minster Atef Sedky. The latter attempt proved somewhat disastrous for the militants, since the attack claimed only the life of a local schoolgirl, which state media covered extensively. Nonetheless, the violence was escalating, and a government victory was far from assured.(Lawyers Committee on Human Rights, Escalating Attactics on Human Rights Protection in Egypt, Washington: Lawyers Committee, 1995).

Many were held without trial for several years, while those who did face charges were tried in military courts. The govemment also passed a law barring political activity of groups that were not registered political parties, and actively cracked down on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As long as the militants limited their attacks to govemment officials and police-who bad little if any popular support-the population was behind them. When the Gama'a shifted tacticst and started targeting foreign tourists and Egyptian civilians (even Copts), popu1ar support rapidly fell.

 This occurred for two reasons. On the one band, the decline in tourism seriously impacted the livelihood of ordinary Egyptians, particu1arly in upper Egypt, and created economic hardship for those whom the militants were ostensibly meant to support. On the other band, popu1ar opinion just did not perceive as legitimate the kilIing of fellow Muslims.

By late 1994 the govemment's beavy handed tactics were beginning to pay off. By 1995, the fighting bad been effectively isolated to the remote areas of central and upper Egypt, where the conflict "degenerated into the timeless politics of vengeance and vendettas, an endless cycle of killings and reprisals." (Ajami, The Dream Palaces ofthe Arabs, p. 202).

Militant activity continued, though, with two attacks in September and November 1997, the latter of which was a gruesome attack on tourists in Luxor that left 60 dead. Far from demonstrating a resurgence of militancy, however, this attacked marked the end of the conflict. Imprisoned members of the Gama'a subsequently ca1led for a ceasefire.

But while the state proved able to deal with the security threat posed by the militants, the ideological challenge proved more difficult to address.  When the ulema defended government policies in the 1960's and 70's, they were pereeived as puppets of thecregime. Many of members of the ulema, refused to sanction this role, which ereated a split within AI-Azhar between the leadership and those sympathetie to the Islamist cause. WhiIe the Iatter may have opposed the militant's use of violence, they agreed with the Islamist eritique of the regime, and shared the Islamist vision of social order. These internal divisions also prodded the leadership into a more antagonistie relationship with the regime. Consequently, when the Mubarek govemment enlisted the ulema in its battIe with the militants in the earIy 1990's, it had the unintended consequenee of empowering (and emboldening) both the centrist leadership and the conservative ulema alike. (See Julie Taylor, "State-Clerical Relations in Egypt: A Case of Strategie Interaction," presented at the American Political Seience Association Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, September 2000).

The government also provided a forum for these religious leaders to comment on political events, yet they used it in a way that did not always benefit the regime. In April 1993, for example, a group of ulema alled upon the government to "release the Islamist prisoners and to negotiate with the members of radical Islam." (See Steven Baraclough, "Al-Azhar: Between the Govemment and the Islamists," Middle East Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, Spring 1998).

Similarly, in 1994, Gad al-Haq attributed the rise of Islamic extremism to the state's manipulation and control of religious affairs, and implicitly argued for a fteer hand in religious interpretation. He also became less willing to issue blanket condemnations of attacks upon tourists and Copts, and focused instead on issues of public morality. In taking these steps, the ulema were presenting themselves as an alternative to both Islamic extremists and the state. This allowed the ulema to develop an agenda of its own, and were calling for " a retum to religion." (Zeghal, "Religion and Politics in Egypt," p. 382).

While there were limits, AI-Azhar's leverage over the regime grew more significant as the violence became more intense. The tactics of the regime undermined its legitimacy, and made it increasingly reliant upon whatever allies it could get. As a result, a wide-spectrum of conservative ulema were  promoted a moderate Islamist worldview through radio, television. (See Judith Miller, God has Ninety-Nine Names: Reporting from a Militant Middle East,  1996).

Thus, although the Mubarak regime bad previously supported many of the secular intellectua1s who were subsequently targeted-and provided space for them to challenge the Islamists-the regime did little to defend them when such support became a liability. The state's compromise with conservative religion, then, privileged a communalist interpretation of the Egyptian nation and national identity, and demonstrated that the tirst victim in the struggle to maintain power was Egypt' s historical commitment to secular and cosmopolitan norms.

At the heart of the Islamist challenge in Egypt has been the continuing debate over how to defme the nation. At issue, is a conflict between those who advocate a society based upon a salafiyya (or Islamist) vision of social order-detined by the establishment of an Islamic state and the full application of Sharia-and those who embrace some notion of secular modernity. While the former argue that the answer to Egypt's social ills is areturn to tradition, the latter holds that it is the continuing influence of a stagnant tradition that has been the source of Egypt's economic and political decline.

In the 19th century, this debate was dominated by the reform movement of alAfghani, Abdhuh and others. Challenged by European imperialism, members of this movement advocated the embrace of science and reason as a means of social revitalization. Among the more liberal elements of this movement, religion was to be relegated to the private sphere, while the institutions of state and society were reformed along western lines. The premise behind this emulation of Europe was two-fold. First, developments in science and technology were perceived to be an important element in transforming the material conditions of Western societies, and Islamic societies, it was believed, ought to follow suit. Second, many believed !hat the unquestioning obedience to religious authority, and the lack of critical thinking associated with it, had severely hindered the development of Arab society. Only by embracing science and reason, then, could Arab societies compete economically and politically with the West.

The more culturally conservative elements in Egyptian society, however, rejected this reasoning, and saw the European influence as an intrusion in traditional Egyptian life. Such conservative elites perceived European values and ideas-particularly those that emphasize individual self-interest over the interests of the community-as largely inconsistent with those of Islam. The basic dichotomy between Egypt's Islamists and secular intellectua1s has changed little since this era.

This was evident in the 1990's when-in the midst of the militant violence-the debate re-emerged over whether Egypt ought to have an Islamic or secular state. The secular argument generally took one of two approaches. On the one.

A debate on this issue between Islamist and secular intellectuals occurred during a meeting ofthe Cairo Book Fair in 1992, the proeeedings of whieh ean be found in Misr Bayn a/ Daw/a a/ Diniya wa a/Madaniya (Egypt: A Religious or CM/ State?)(Cairo, 1992). Representing the Islamists were Muhammad Imara, Mamoun al-Hodeiby, the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, and Shekh Muhammad alGhazzali of AI-Azhar. On the other side were two renowned secular intellectuals, Farag Foda, the founder of a/-Tanwir, and Muhammad Ahrned Khanafa. The debate was significant for a nurnber of reasons, including the fact that it was the first and last debate on such a sensitive topic to be hosted by a govemment institution in such a public forum. Moreover, it was shortly after this debate that Farag Foda was gunned down by Islamie militants outside his horne in Cairo. He argued that nowhere in the Qur' an does it specify a particular form of government, and thus a secular government is consistent with Islam. (Fauzi M. Naiiar, "Tbe Debate on Islam and Secularism in Egypt," Arab Studies Quarterly, Spring 1996, Vol. 18, No. 2, p. 21).

It was not that the early Wafdists were necessarily hostile to religion. Rather, they were concemed about the politicization of ecclesiastic authorities, and the manipulation of religion by political actors (particularly by the monarchy). If this first approach is wary of religion's influence upon politics, the second approach is concemed with the effect of politics upon religion. Authors such as Mohammad Said al-Ashmawy are deeply disturbed over the politicization of Islam. Though he explicitly eschews the label of secularist, Ashmawy's position is premised upon the belief that religion (and specifIcally Islam) deals fundamentally with human spirituality, not with politics. (See Muhammad Said al-Ashmawy, Islam and the Political Order, Washington, DC: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 1994).

Other concerns raised by secular and liberal intellectua1s deal with the ambiguity of what an Islamic state would entail. For example, the demand for the application of shari'a, despite its apparent simplicity, is rather misleading because there is no single interpretation of Islamic law. Rather, there are several schools of Islarnic jurisprudence-the Hanafi, Malaki, Hanbali, and Shafi'i-which, while similar in most matters, do differ on various issues. Second, the secularists fear the abuse that would be inherent in an Islamic state. 139 Once shari 'a was established, any opposition could be equated with heresy, and dissent would "become an insolence in the face of God' s law ..that has to be punished by applying the appropriate hadd (Quranic punishment)."The proponents of an Islamic state-a group often referred to as 'integralists ' -reject these arguments, and believe that a elose affiliation between religion and politics is not just preferable, but essential. The core of their argument lies in the assertion that Islam has never known a distinction between public and private realms, and that all aspects ofhuman existence are meant to be regulated by God's will as defined in the Qur'an, the Sunna (example of the Prophet) and the Shari'a. The basic assumption within this claim is that without religion, there can be no normative basis to political life and, hence, no morality. Moreover, secularism is understood from this perspective as either a matter of unbelief (kufr) or of active hostility to religion. The alternative to an Islamic state, then, "is not a civil state, but rather an irreligious [one]." (Farid Zakariyya, quoted in Alexander Flores, "Secularism, Integralism, and Political Islam: The Egyptian Debate," in Joel Beinin and Joe Stork, Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report, Berkeley, 1997, p. 91).

By promoting conservative Islam for its own ends, state elites have helped to validate the integralist (and Islamist) vision of social order, and moved the salaflya interpretation of Islam into the ideological mainstream. This also contributed greatly to the communalization of Egyptian politics, with dire results for the Christian minority.

Discrimination against the Coptic Christians-which comprise the largest minority in the country-is evident in a variety of issues ranging from the official count of the population,l to biring procedures that exclude Christians from holding positions of authority. There are no Christian govemors or mayors in Egypt, for example, or Cabinet level officials. Members of the Coptic community are also unrepresented in the upper ranks of the security services. Similarly, Cbristians are largely absent in the realm of academia. Of Egypt' s 15 state universities, none have a Coptic Christian in a key administrative post-either Dean or President-and only a very few Christians hold teaching positions. Similarly, Christian students are not allowed to attend AI-Azhar University despite its public funding. As one of Egypt's pre-eminent universities, this type of discrimination has long-term implications for future job prospects in such fields as medicine, law and engineering. There is some dispute as to the actual nwnbers of the Coptic population as weIl. Govemment figures place the number at 6 million, or roughly 5 percent ofthe population. Coptic activists claim a much higher figure, around 10 million. while external sources place it at 7 to 8 million.

Other forms of discrimination can be found in the treatment of minorities on matters of religious freedom and marriage. While a Christian may convert to Islam, Muslims who convert to Christianity have been subject to harassment by local law enforcement. While such conversions are not specifically prohibited by law, neither are hey recognized. Similarly, a Muslim woman is legally prohibited from marrying a Christian man, though a Muslim man may marry a Christian woman. There have also been numerous reports of Coptic girls being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam (meaning included in a harem) by Muslim men. While there are no reports of government involvement in such abductions, the local police and government officials have harassed Christian families seeking redress, and the government has clearly failed "to uphold the law in such instances." Plus there is a law prohibiting Churching construction (and repair) absent a presidential decree remains in force, even while the government uses public funds for mosque construction and support. (International Religious Freedom Report 2001, Egypt, U.S. Department of State).

On New Years Eve 1999, violenee in the southem city of AI-Kosheh led to two days of rioting. During this period, Muslims burned and looted Coptic stores, and killed 20 Christians. The violenee reflected long simmering tensions between wealthy Christians and less weIl-off Muslims, though was very much intertwined with the communalization of polities. When two Christians had been killed in the previous year, the government rounded up 1,000 Copts-torturing many-convinced that Christians were behind the killings. (Alberto Femandez. "In the Year ofthe Martyrs" Anti-Coptic Violence in Egypt, 1988-1993," Paper Presented at the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 18-20,2001).

The government's response to the 1999-2000 violence reflected a similar unwillingness to address the real issues.  The initial trial indicted 96 defendants-58 Muslims and 38 Copts-but acquitted 92 of them. The remaining four were convieted of only minor crimes. According to one analyst at the time, "the verdiets were intentionally light in order to avoid fanning the flames of sectarian strife."( cited in Nadia About EI-Magd, "The Meanings of AI-Kosheh," AI-Ahram Weeldy, 3-9 February 2000).

While the Egyptian government refuses to recognize the Coptic community as a minority-and argues that the Egyptian nation is entirely of one 'ethnic' fabric-the government has nonetheless refused to allow for equal treatment of the Christian population. This is refleeted in the common pereeption among members of the Coptic eommunity that they are second class eitizens, and, thus, not 'fully Egyptian.'(See "International Religions Freedom Report, 2004" U.S. Department of State).

Moreover, the large amounts of daily television and radio time dedicated to Islamic programming has in the past either demeaned Christianity or emphasized the benefits of conversion to Islam. Similarly, Islamist newspapers, commonly denigrate Christianity and the Coptic community, as do the sermons at Friday prayers in mosques around the country. Each of these trends contributes to the further communalization of public life, and has increased Coptic alienation.

These issues were also resurrected in 2001 when an Arabic language weekly, al Nabaa, published a lengthy story-with numerous pictures-of a defrocked priest having sex with women at a revered monastery. A major protest erupted among the Coptic community that included several days of demonstrations in Cairo. While the immediate cause of the protest was the publication of the article, these unprecedented street protests were driven largely by the community' s sense of continued persecution. The protestor' s grievances reflected long-standing frustration with the Mubarak regime's unwillingness to protect minority rights, and ineluded a variety of critieisms of both the Government and the Church leadership.

While the Mubarak regime has sought to promote interfaith dialogue and other means to ease tensions between the communities, the state' s promotion of communalism has had a lasting impact upon Coptic as weIl as Muslim identity. This has not been helped by the tendency of state actors to take community issues up with the Coptic Church, and not with secular representatives. And while there remain numerous Muslims and Christians willing to reach out to one another, they frequently face opposition within their own communities over such issues as inter-communal dialogue and the advocacy of reform. This is especially evident in the internal divisions that exist within the Coptic community over how to respond to both the state and the sectarian tensions. Expatriate Coptic groups often differ with local groups over how to approach many of the issues raised by their minority status. Similarly, the communalism fostered by the state has constrained those in both groups who try to promote religious tolerance and mutual understanding.

Elsewhere Farag Foda, a leading secular writer, was assassinated in 1992. He had participated in the 1992 Cairo Book Fair forum, during which he bad he had insulted Muhammad al-Ghazali, a leading member of Al-Azhar. The Front subsequently issued afatwa designating Foda a kafir (beretic), the punishment for which is death. During the murder trial, Sheikh al-Ghazali testified to the fact that "anyone opposing the full implementation of the sharia, as Foda did, was guilty of apostasy, and that anyone killing such a person was not liable for punishment under Islamic law." (Abdo, No God but God, p. 68).

The assassination of Foda was a galvanizing event, as was the attack two years later on writer Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt's famed Nobel Laureate. In both cases, the efforts by establishment clerics to ban their books or otherwise identify them as apostates provided a warrant for their subsequent attacks by the more radical militant groups. And although wi1ling to support secular thinkers in their criticisms of Islamic militancy, the Egyptian regime was less willing to aid such intellectuals when challenged by members of the religious establishment.

For example, Nasr Hamid Abu Zeid in 1993, a former professor at the University of Cairo, was a scholar of Islamic studies and Arabic literature. By attempting the  application of hermeneutics to the interpretation of the Qur'an, several of his colleagues with whom he had long differed considered his analysis heresy, and coordinated with a group of Islamist lawyers to bring formal charges against him. While Abu Zeid argued his case on the grounds of freedom of thought and _expression (a constitutional matter), those bringing the case invoked the rules of sharia (lslamic law), and focused on whether or not Abu Zeid's writings were a threat to the community of Muslims. The court then ordered Abu Zeid divorced from his wife, since "being married to an apostate from Islam was a violation of the rights of God." (George N. Sfeir, "Basic Freedoms in a Fractured Legal Culture: Egypt and the Case of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayid," Middle East JoumaJ, Summer 1998, p. 406).

Muhammad Said al-Ashmawy, the former Chief Justice of the Cairo High Court however , has found himself in a similar predicament to that of Abu Zeid. In 1992, the Islamic Research Academy recommended that a number of bis books be banned, and ordered the confiscation of five specific texts. In 1996, a similar order was given for a book he published concerning women and the veil in Islam. In this book he argued that there is nothing in the Quran or the Sunna that require woman to wear a veil, and that this is solely a matter of custom.The Islamic Research Academy subsequently ordered the confiscation of this book.

Other leading scholars in Egypt were similarly targeted for attack, including author Said Mahmud al-Qumny, whose book The God of Time, was banned. The attack on The God of Time was part of a broader campaign against 196 books that al-Azhar deemed blasphemous. The case was submitted to the State Security court upon the request of Al-Azhar, where al-Qumny was subsequently charged with ''propagating ideas that denigrate Islam [under Artiele 198 of the Criminal Code]." (Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Press Release, May 1, 1997).

The underlying debate in each of these cases-the limits of free expression and the acceptability of questioning revealed religion-is not new. As noted above, there has long been a debate over the degree to which Islam is open to interpretation.

What is perhaps most significant, though, is the government's complicity in these attacks. The intolerance of dissenting opinions on religious matters has been legitimated by state policies which have been designed to encourage religious piety and political quiescence, while stigmatizing both extremism and Westernization as twin evils to be avoided. In doing so, however, it also helped redefine the moral order of Egyptian public life. As one writer recently commented, the emergence of "~ influential middle c1ass with a [traditional] mentality as weIl as the politicization of Islam"  has created a new social environment, where the idea that society should be organized around religious principles is largely accepted and where assaults on 'deviance' by state institutions is now commonplace.

While rhetorically committed to a secular modernity, the regime has ceded the basic debate over religion and public life to conservative clerics. As such, the regime sought to appropriate the message of conservative Islam, not oppose it. Since the vast majority of the population are sympathetic to the concems raised by the Islamists, neither the regime nor the state-controlled media wished to defend secular principles or ideas. Moreover, the assaults on intellectual freedoms were perceived by the regime to be peripheral to their core economic and political concerns. (See Judith Miller "The Challenge of Radical Islam," Foreign Affairs 72, no. 2,1993).

Furthermore,  aimed at constraining moderate Islamists was the reform of the Hisba laws in 1997, which had allow Islamists lawyers to bring cases of Islamic morality to court. The regime has also continued to ignore the complaints of Coptic Christians, secular intellectua1s and Shi'a Muslims.

At the same time, the Mubarak government claims to support avision of modemity that promotes tolerance, pluralism and economic development. In short, the Mubarak regime is trying to serve as both an advocate of secular modemity and Islamic tradition at the same time.The inconsistency of these two trends has generated a 'superficial hybrid,' where the successful promotion of economic modemity would appear to entail the promotion of critical reasoning.

Successful modernization also requires at least some degree of independence for the realm of civil society, and a greater emphasis upon the rule of law and accountable government. Moreover, the success of the state in promoting a communalist vision of society-and of depicting conservative religious belief as culturally more authentic-has greatly affected the middle classes which have become increasingly conservative and overtly Islamic in the last twenty years.

Despite the government's success in replacing. top officials of the religious establishment, moreover, the Mubarak regime has been largely unable to eradicate the deeply entrenched conservatism that exists within these institutions. And it is here that the state's politicization of Islam over the last thirty years is most evident. By inviting Saudi influence and financing to eradicate the left-and, later, to counter the Islamists-both the Sadat and Mubarak regime helped to destroy the intellectual basis for a liberal modernist (or humanist) Islam and discredited the idea that religion was open to interpretation. These policies subsequently contributed to the demise of modernist Islam within Egypt. In its stead has been placed a conservative interpretation of Islamic tradition.

Moreover, by using the security services (and courts) to prosecute heterodox views, the Mubarak government has "repeatedly sent a clear message that religion is not a private matter and that any 'deviation ftom the true religion' will not be tolerated." (Hossam Bahgat, "AI-Azhar is wrong, but the state is the real culprit," The Dally Star, September 23, 2004).

The influenee of eonservative Islam in Egyptian public life was greatly abetted by the changing orientation ofstate elites that began in the 1970's. By using Islam as a basis of nationalist legitimacy, bot,h Sadat and Mubarak abandoned the earlier eommitments to seeular modernity that marked the Nasser era. It also ereated an opportunity for conservative activists to promote their vision of Islam in public life. While the ruling party-the National Democratie Party-advocates a modernist ideology of development, both the Mubarak and Sadat regimes consistently sought to situate their authority within a moral framework linked to Islamie tradition. More importantly, the active promotion of Islam through state-run media and the official religious establishment has been a key factor in explaining the resurgence of eonservative Islamic polities. Not only did this contribute to the re-emergenee ofthe long-standing debates over the nature of Egypt's social order, but it helps to explain the partieular outcome. By attempting to appear more culturally authentie than its religious opposition, state actors contributed greatly to the construetion of an Islamie social order defined by exclusive eonceptions of national identity and conservative interpretations of religion.

This role of state actors in promoting eonservative Islam helps to explain, then, two key anomalies in contemporary Egyptian polities. The first was the emerging dominance of Islamist polities in the aftermath of the government's victory over its militant opposition in the 1990's. While the militants failed to dislodge the Mubarek as the noted political commentator and fonner-Ambassdor Tahseen Basbir remarked, even though the Islamists were "checked in [their] bid for power, ... the Islamization of society gained ground."referenced in Fouad Ajami, "The Sorrows ofEgypt," Foreign Affairs (September/October. 1995)

The Islamist critique bad nonetheless taken hold and the vernacular of political discourse was fundamentally transformed. This raised the inevitable question: ''why had this occurred?" Why weren't the victors able to defme the new 'rules of the game'? Related to this was a second anomaly: why did the regime tolerate a religious establishment that was, at least from the early 1990's, extremely outspoken and moving "closer to the Islamists ideas and further away from the officialline?"207 This was particularly perplexing given the state's complicity in high profile assaults upon intellectual freedom, and the regime's apparent absence in the debate over social order.

The answers to these questions are best found by moving away from a dichotomous understanding of Egyptian politics  that emphasizes a secular state vying with an Islamist opposition-and recognizing instead the central role of official institutions in promoting conservative Islam. The focus of this research, then, is on the interaction of three sets of actors-the state elite, the religious establishment and the Islamist opposition-and the manner in which this dynamic facilitated an ideological transformation of Egyptian politics. While conventional wisdom tends to attribute the resurgence of Islam to popular unrest or an inherent religiosity among the population, the approach defined here emphasizes the important role of the state in creating an environment where Islamist politics tlourished. The state politicized not just the ulema,but the discourse of conservative Islam. It even went so far as to support some of the groups that would later emerge as its prlmary opponents. In this way, the government' (Dalacoura, Islam, Liberalism anti Human Rights, p. 126-7).

Politicization of religion helped to validate the ideas and organizations associated with the Islamist movement, and ushered in a new era of religious politics.The implications of this instrumental manipulation of religion have been significant. Not only has it contributed to greater communalization of the polity, but it has helped to create an environment where the persecution of Coptic Christians, secular  intellectua1s and those with dissenting religious opinions has occurred with regul~ty (and often with state complicity). The most significant victim ofthe ideological battles ofthe last thirty years, then, has been the conception of Egypt as a plural society. The right to differ, either intellectua1ly or politically, has been stigmatized and often equated with either heresy or treason. The takfir cases, for example, demonstrate the weakness of the,government in the face of a religious communalism of its own making; by failing to stand,up to chauvinistic tendencies within official institutions, the ruling regime has become complicit in their actions. Moreover, the failure to cultivate an inclusive basis of national identity-and a political culture of tolerance and compromise-has contributed to major divisions in society and continuing social tensions. In short, by relying upon coercive state structures to constrain dissent, and by using Islam to promote political quiescence, the state continues to exclude large segments of the population from public life, and undercuts the possibility of developing a truly open society.

These findings do not, however, imply the imminent downfall ofthe regime or an imminent Islamist takeover. What it does signify is that minority rights, political development, civil society and regional stability will all remain problematic issues for the near future. The Islamic discourse that now dominates in Egypt has demonstrated intolerant and exclusive tendencies, and as such does not provide the kind of pluralist basis for a what is in fact a diverse soci~ty. How this affects Egypt's future remains to be seen, though it is likely that the two opposing elements of Egyptian culture-the secular intellectual and conservative Islamic-will continue to clash. If the state is able to improve economic well-being, increase political participation or otherwise generate alternative sources of legitimacy, its dependency upon religious politics may diminish, and the influence of conservative Islam may lessen. The irony, of course, is that any effort to genuinely open the political arena will seriously threaten the existence of the regime, since free elections would likely benefit the Islamist opposition. In other words, the state has limited its options by embracing conservative Islam as a source of legitimacy.

As pointed out, the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood has always remained the same: to reestablish Sharia rule in Egypt and elsewhere, whether by peaceful or violent means. And now, despite the best efforts of the Mubarak regime (which, like the Nasser and Sadat regimes before it, has tried to keep the Ikhwan at bay with a combination of force and concessions) to limit its influence, it is gaining strength in Egypt. However the Islamist group has now won 76 seats -- more than five times the number it held in the outgoing chamber.

One of  the most important developments in the recent history of the Muslim Brotherhood  movement has been its adoption of participatory politics as a major strategy. The Brotherhood’s engagement in the political process has been accompanied by the embrace of a new, pro-democracy narrative in which the movement claims to seek the creation not of a religious state, but of a "civil state with an Islamic source of authority.” In some countries, the Brotherhood’s embrace of electoral politics has also led to the formation of political parties.In light of these developments, it has been argued that the Brotherhood will become moderated as it integrates more fully into the political process, and conversely, more radicalized, should it be excluded. But has the MB's own track record provided any evidence to support this hypothesis? Has the Brotherhood’s participation in politics brought about a fundamental ideological change in the movement, and led it to alter its radical nature and objectives?Two cases, both of which will be examined in this paper, shed some light on these questions: that of Egypt, where the Brotherhood is officially outlawed, and that of Jordan, where the Brotherhood is legal and has formed its own political party. In both cases, the Brotherhood’s embrace of politics has rewarded it with some considerable electoral successes in the recent past. At the same time, those achievements have also compelled the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes to move firmly to deny the Brotherhood new electoral gains and to try and reduce its political role. The Jordanian Brotherhood has complained that the government rigged recent elections, causing the Brotherhood’s party to perform poorly.  And yet, despite these claims, Jordanian experts say the Brotherhood’s electoral setbacks can not be ascribed entirely to governmental manipulation alone. Instead, it seems that the Brotherhood has not been able to persuade the masses of its ideological agenda.Meanwhile, Hamas's victory in the January 2006 legislative elections didn’t help the group accomplish its own professed goals of liberating and Islamizing Palestine. Instead, Hamas ended up politically isolated in Gaza.  Moreover, in Morocco, the Brotherhood-inspired Justice and Development Party did not perform as well as expected in the legislative elections of September 2007, which were relatively free and fair compared to elections in other Arab countries.

All of this suggests that the Brotherhood’s political strategy has recently come up against some genuine limits—including limits imposed not only by states to curb the MB’s political ascendancy, but also limits to the Brotherhood’s own ability to mobilize voters on the basis of its slogan "Islam is the solution.” The more the MB has advanced in the polls, and the more the possibility of its assuming power loomed on the horizon, the more the movement was expected, at home and abroad, to offer pragmatic solutions to people’s problems and to make the sort of compromises required of political parties in a pluralistic political order. But the Brotherhood has not met those expectations, and as a result, has suffered in the political arena in recent times.

It appears, then, as the Egyptian analyst Khalil al-Anani has recently put it,[1] that "the Islamist Spring" may well be coming to a close. But if the MB's political strategy has reached a dead end, what will its various branches choose to do now and in the future? Hamas provided one response to this dilemma when it took over Gaza by force. That response may well be a model that other Brotherhood branches will follow in the future. On the other end of the spectrum, however, is the example offered by the Islamic AKP (Justice and Development Party) in Turkey, which won  victories in the 2002 and 2007 legislative elections—but only after distancing itself from traditional Brotherhood ideology. This achievement suggests that an Islamic political party can assume power and keep it in a civil state, so long as it is willing to accept the sovereignty of that political order and reject the ideological objectives of establishing an Islamic state.  But is the MB at large willing to take this step? On this question, the views of the Brotherhood regarding the AKP’s model and success are especially revealing, and will also be examined in this paper.

But while the Brotherhood was founded with the expressed purpose of establishing the sovereignty of sharia (Islamic law), uniting Muslim lands, liberating them from all foreign presence, and eventually spreading Islam worldwide. And while these objectives have also been pursued through  jihad, especially since the period of repression it experienced during Nasser’s reign in, through dawa, or missionary and social activities.

It thus is important to understand the relationship between dawa and politics (siyasah) in Brotherhood organizations. In politics, the Brotherhood may claim to seek the creation of a civil state.  But at the level of dawa, the MB doesn’t make compromises with its basic ideological objectives, because divine truth, as it see it, cannot be subject to political negotiation. The Brotherhood’s political activities are meant to advance the Islamizing objectives of the Brotherhood as a dawa movement.

MB political parties in Arab countries are, organizationally speaking, not separate from the dawa organization. This is so even in Morocco, where the Brotherhood’s political party—the Justice and Development Party (Hizb al-Adalah wal-Tanmiyah)—is widely regarded as having gone further than other MB parties in distancing itself from the dawa organization and the revivalist movement from which it sprang, the "Monotheism and Reform Movement" (Harakat al-Tawhid  wal-Islah).[2]

In many ways, the two strategies of dawa and siyasah are contradictory and inevitably produce deep ambiguities in the Brotherhood’s ideological message. For example, as a dawa movement, the Brotherhood calls for the implementation of sharia and the establishment of an Islamic state, and cannot accept non-Muslims as citizens fully equal to Muslims, which should be a sine qua non for a civil political party. Moreover, engagement in political activity and elections requires dialogue and partnership with other political forces, including with ideological rivals. As such, the Brotherhood’s political activities have sometimes found themselves in conflict with the message of the dawa. These tensions have given rise to the famous “grey zones”—the ambiguous positions on ideological and political issues that provide key benchmarks for gauging an organization’s commitment to democratic and pluralistic values.

 A Civil or Sharia State?

Since the beginning of the Egyptian Brotherhood's involvement in electoral politics in the 1980s, its public statements have emphasized its commitment to promoting democracy, freedom, justice, human rights, and common citizenship for members of religious minorities. The Brotherhood’s participation in politics has also created a felt need within the movement’s ranks to form a political party.

The Egyptian Brothers most in favor of establishing a political party belong to the “second generation” or "middle generation" (jil al-wasat). These men, many of whom were activists in Islamist student organizations in the 1970s, are skilled and politically savvy, and more interested in political work than in dawa. Some of these activists have advocated setting up a party alongside the Brotherhood's dawa structure, while others have suggested that the Brotherhood transform itself entirely into a political party. Today, the Egyptian Brotherhood's discourse is abuzz with discussion about the future Brotherhood party, which is often described as “a civil party with a religious source of authority” (marja’iyyah.)

Contemporary Islamist writers ordinarily describe this concept of a “civil state with an Islamic source of authority” as an alternative to the traditional Brotherhood concept of a state operating on the principle of divine rule (hakimiyyah), which requires the full implementation of sharia. But while the Egyptian Brotherhood gives lip service to the creation of a civil party and a civil state, it continues to adhere as an organization to the principle of hakimiyyah. It regards itself as a comprehensive movement that combines religion and the state and seeks to implement sharia in all aspects of human activity.

The Brotherhood’s mission statement, which is permanently posted on its official Arabic-language website,[3] defines the Brotherhood as a Muslim community (jama’ah) that preaches for and demands the rule of Allah’s law (tahkim shar’ allah). It recapitulates the Brotherhood creed first formulated at its fifth conference (January 1939) that declares that Islam is a complete and total system and is the final arbiter of life in all its aspects, in all nations and in all times.[4] The “Reform Initiative,” which the Brotherhood launched in March 2004, states clearly that the ultimate goal of Islamic reform is the implementation of sharia. It also says:

We have a clear mission—to implement Allah’s law, on the basis of our belief that that it is the real, effective way out of all our problems—domestic or external, political, economic, social or cultural. That is to be achieved by forming the Muslim individual, the Muslim home, the Muslim government, and the state which will lead the Islamic states, reunite the scattered Muslims, restore their glory, retrieve for them their lost lands and stolen homelands, and carry the banner of the call to Allah in order to bless the world with Islam’s teachings.[5]

In the Egyptian context, even the most ardent advocates of the siyasah strategy have neither accepted the separation of religion and state, nor abandoned the principle that Islam is both religion and state (din wa-dawlah). These advocates also uphold the Brotherhood’s identity as a religious dawa movement that is committed to Islam’s total and universal nature. Thus, according to Abd al-Mun’im Abu al-Futuh, one of the most outspoken “second generation” advocates of the political strategy, the most important achievement of the Brotherhood has been its success in spreading the concept of a universal and comprehensive Islam and of the inseparability of state and religion.[6]  Issam al-Aryan, another prominent second generation leader and promoter of the siyasah strategy, defined the Brotherhood's objective as:

The construction of a total revival on the foundations and principles of Islam, which begins with reforming the Muslim individual, the Muslim home and the Muslim society, continues with reforming government and restoring the international entity [al-kiyan al-duwali] of the Islamic nation, and ends with being the masters of the world [ustadhiyat al-‘alam] through guidance and preaching [bil-hidayah wal-irshad wal-dawa].[7]

This concept, that the Brotherhood is a guide to society, obviously does not conform to the idea of a civil party, one among many that compete with one another without claiming possession of the absolute truth or pretending to guide the others. Neither is the Islamic concept of the “Guide” as the title of the Brotherhood's leader indicative of a democratic organization. The Brotherhood has, therefore, made it a point to refer to its leader as the “Chairman of the MB group" on its English-language website, to his deputy as the “Deputy Chairman” and so forth. On the Brotherhood’s Arabic-language sites and in its publications, however, the leader is still the “General Guide” (al-Murshid al-‘Aamm), the organization's highest institution is the “Guidance Bureau” (Maktab al-Irshad), etc. Far from regarding itself as one political actor among many, the Brotherhood views itself as speaking for Islam. The Brotherhood's claim to be the true representative of Islam is reflected in its electoral slogan, “Islam is the Solution” (al-Islam huwa al-hal). The slogan has been sharply criticized, but the Brotherhood has refused to give it up. The MB believes their movement represents the real and true Islamic community. That is why the Brotherhood would not transform itself into a political party: If Islam is comprehensive, and the MB is Islam, then it cannot be reduced to a political party.

The Egyptian MB Party’s Program

In 2006 the Egyptian Brotherhood made several public relations mistakes—including the display of force by MB students performing martial arts in al-Azhar University (10 December 2006)—that hurt its efforts to project itself as a nonviolent, civil movement. These mistakes, in turn, helped the regime paint the Brotherhood as a violent movement that poses a threat to Egypt's national security. Facing the regime's pressure and wanting to improve its image and acquire legitimacy as a civil movement seeking democratic reform, the MB started in early 2007 to focus public attention on its future political party and its program. The Brotherhood announced that it had decided to establish a party and was on the verge of publishing the party's program. Although this party has not been established and its official program has not  been published, unofficial draft texts of its platform—not formally endorsed by the Brotherhood—have been circulated and have aroused public debate.

The unofficial texts not only support the supremacy of sharia in the Brotherhood's future state, but also institutionalize it. Thus, the future party seeks to implement “the authority of Islamic Sharia” (marja'iyyat al-shari'ah al-Islamiyyah) in the following manner:[8]

o       The legislative branch should consult an assembly of religious scholars.  The president of the state must also consult this assembly of religious scholars whenever he issues decisions that have legal power.

o       Whenever there is a definitive sharia ruling, backed by a definite holy text (nass), the legislative branch has no authority to legislate differently. When a clear holy text is not available, the position of the assembly of scholars can be put to vote in the legislative branch. Rejecting that position requires an absolute majority of the members of the legislative branch.

o       The assembly of religious scholars should be elected by religious scholars, and enjoy total freedom from the executive branch.
The Brotherhood thus seeks to institutionalize sharia rule by establishing its own version of the radical Shia concept of "rule of the jurist."

The draft program further says that the state has fundamental religious functions, as it is responsible for protecting and defending Islam. Those religious functions are represented by the head of state, and consequently the head of state must be a Muslim. That is also so because decisions on matters of war are sharia decisions, requiring that whoever makes them will be a Muslim. (Other drafts have specifically stated that the president must be a Muslim male.)[9] The draft declared as well, however, that the state will be based on the principle of citizenship (muwatanah), that all citizens will have equal rights and obligations, and that "the woman will enjoy all her rights, to be practiced in conformity with the fundamental values of society."

How does the MB square the equality of all citizens with the exclusion of non-Muslims and women from the top state position? What are "the fundamental values of society" that govern women rights, and who defines them? Those and similar questions emerged following the appearance of the drafts. First Deputy General Guide Muhammad Habib clarified what he described as the Brotherhood's "red lines" on these issues: Copts and women, he stressed, cannot be the head of state.[10] Moreover, the Brotherhood’s leadership rejected a proposal to insert wording into the draft that presented the authority of sharia as reflecting the people's, rather than the divine, will. The rejected formulation stated: "The authority of the Islamic sharia is a constitutional principle chosen by the nation by its free will…. That authority is not imposed on the nation, and becomes an authority only due to the nation's choice."[11]

On all of these issues, the draft program met with harsh criticism, including from within the MB itself. In defense of the draft, Abd al-Futuh argued that any misunderstanding resulted simply from "mistaken phrasing," and that the assembly of religious scholars would be a consultative body only and that a woman could be the head of state. He did not say, however, that a non-Muslim could be head of state.[12]

Since the November 2005 legislative elections, the Egyptian government has undertaken a series of measures that have aimed to deny the Brotherhood any political role. Those measures have included large-scale and ongoing arrests that have targeted, among others, top MB leaders; the use of military courts; a crackdown on the Brotherhood’s financial infrastructure; and constitutional amendments, adopted in March 2007, designed to undercut the Brotherhood's electoral activity.  As a consequence of these actions, not one Brotherhood-supported candidate was elected in the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council) elections of June 2007.

As the government has imposed these constraints, the Brotherhood's political strategies have come under increasing criticism from within both the Islamist movement and the Brotherhood itself. In early 2007, Ali Abd al-Hafiz of Asyut University led a group of Brotherhood members out of the organization, and formed what he called “the Alternative Trend” (al-Tayar al-Badil). He called on the Brotherhood to separate itself entirely from the political realm, arguing that one cannot claim to be a religious and moral guide to society while, at the same time, competing in elections against those one pretends to guide.[13]

In January 2007, Abdullah al-Nafisi, a former Brotherhood member and renowned Islamist scholar, went even further. He argued that the Brotherhood’s political strategy had exhausted the movement by involving it in endless skirmishes with the regime, and had few valuable achievements to show for it. By being so immersed in daily political struggles, the Brotherhood had lost strategic direction and long-term systematic thinking, and had become a burden on the Islamist movement itself. It was better for the Brotherhood to dissolve itself, he concluded, and transform itself into a school of thought.[14]

In a similar argument, Muhammad Salim al-Awa—a well-known Islamist thinker, former Brotherhood member and close associate of Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi—urged the Brotherhood in June 2007 to leave politics altogether for ten years. He pleaded that the movement should focus instead on educational, cultural and social work. The Brotherhood's political action had given nothing to the Muslim people of Egypt, he argued, adding that the right way to fight injustice and tyranny is not by running for parliament, but by educating the people and caring for them.[15]

So far, the Brotherhood's leadership has reacted both to the regime's new constraints and to criticism from Islamists by staying its course. It did not resort to public protests and demonstrations in response to the regime's crackdown, nor has it shown signs of changing its strategy. In response to its critics, the leadership has told its followers that the movement had seen worse repression in its long history, and that it has survived in the past through patience and perseverance.

Moreover, the MB leadership has rejected ideological and organizational change, asserting that the movement has a course, a set of “constants” or “fixed principles” (thawabit), and a historical heritage that must be adhered to. Whoever chooses to follow a different path that is not in harmony with the movement’s course is free to do so—but only outside the movement. As such, the fixed and constant principles of the MB must always be respected and followed, lest the movement disintegrate into factions and parties. It is “our belief that Islam is total, comprehensive, and an integrated whole … it is unimaginable therefore that someone from the ranks should show up, calling for the breaking up of Islam, trying to push the movement into the unknown,” wrote Muhammad Habib.[16] (Those “calling for the breaking up of Islam” are either the advocates of separating siyasah from dawa, or those that favor abandoning the political strategy altogether).

The Brotherhood's rejection of separating the religious and political realms derives from its view of itself as a comprehensive movement that is committed to the application of sharia in all realms of human life. But why has the Egyptian Brotherhood chosen to refrain from violent reaction? This is apparently explained by the Brotherhood's doctrine of pursuing power.

That doctrine is based on the Brotherhood’s long-term dawa strategy of Islamizing society from the bottom up. According to this plan, the Brotherhood will be able to take power only at the stage of tamkin, when the movement will have won the hearts and minds of a significant majority, if not all, of the people. At this stage, all the necessary steps to prepare society as whole for the embrace of a fully Islamic order will have been taken. These steps entail, among other things, the penetration and ideological indoctrination of such "influential institutions" as the military, the police, the media, educational institutions like al-Azhar, legal institutions and the parliament. Moreover, the external, international environment also needs to be prepared for the Brotherhood’s ascension to power.[17]

The Brotherhood’s reaction to the Mubarak regime’s imposition of constraints on its activities seems to reflect its assessment that the ground is not yet sufficiently prepared for it to attain power. The Brotherhood’s leaders have in fact publicly stated that the organization is not yet ready to assume complete power. The MB’s General Guide Muhammad Mahdi Akif has even characterized all the recent cases in which Islamists have assumed power—in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia—as failures, because those regimes were not raised to power by the people’s will. He added that the Brotherhood will be ready and able to assume power only when the people accept its message and desire its rule.[18] In light of these statements, it appears the Brotherhood leadership has chosen to avoid making any provocative moves, as it does not want to provide the regime with a legitimate reason for taking measures that could put the movement at risk.

Hamas’s election victory in Gaza in 2006 and its subsequent formation of a government did not conform to the Egyptian Brotherhood’s concept of reaching power either. Both the domestic and external environments were unprepared for it. Indeed, in August 2007 Deputy General Guide Muhammad Habib stated that Hamas's election victory had "negatively affected the political reality in Egypt and in the Arab world"[19] (that is to say, Hamas’s victory has damaged the prospects of the Brotherhood in the region).

It should be clear that the Brotherhood has not ruled out the use of violence in principle. Although Akif did indeed say in March 2007 that violence would not be one of the Brotherhood’s means for reacting to its exclusion from the political system,[20] he later qualified that remark in August 2007. At that time, he did not abjure violence, but argued that violence should not be undertaken when the regime is favored in the balance of power and thus, likely to win in a conflict. As Akif said, "It is not in everyone's interest that violence or a clash take place now, and it is not in [our] interest now to conduct resistance against the government, because it has millions who have been prepared to confront protests, to repress demonstrators, and to beat and arrest them (emphasis added.)"[21]

In light of this, it seems that the Brotherhood's leadership likely believes that there is little advantage in risking further trouble now. Rather, it apparently opts to prepare for the day after President Hosni Mubarak departs, when the Brotherhood will have a chance to play a key role in shaping the new order. Patiently waiting for that time seems to be the Egyptian Brotherhood’s chosen option—at least for now.

The Jordanian MB

The Jordanian branch of the Brotherhood was established in 1945 to pursue the Islamization of society, the creation of an Islamic state that would implement sharia, the conduct of jihad to liberate occupied Muslim lands, the unification of the Muslim nation, and the liberation of the globe from idols (tawaghit).[22] In the 1950s and 60s, the Jordanian Brotherhood formed an alliance with the Jordanian state to oppose their common enemy, Nasser’s pan-Arabism and socialism. That alliance ended in the 1980s, however, when Islamism became the main ideological rival to the monarchy.

Since then, the Jordanian MB has come under the influence of the radical, takfiri ideology of Said Qutb, Abdullah Azzam and others. It has also become increasingly influenced by Hamas. This has led to the Jordanian MB’s increasingly confrontational posture toward the state and, in turn, the regime’s efforts to contain and reduce the Brotherhood's power. [22]

In 1992, the Jordanian MB formed a political party—the Islamic Action Front (IAF). One reason for the creation of this party was to protect the Jordanian MB’s dawa activities from any measures the government might adopt against its political activities. The IAF’s declared objectives include fostering a return to Islamic life and applying sharia in all fields, preparing the Muslim Nation for jihad against Zionist and imperialist enemies, helping the Palestinian cause and seeking to liberate Palestine  achieving national unity and liberty, confronting imperialist and foreign influences, and establishing a system of government based on democratic principles and shura, or consultation.[23]

The party’s blueprint for a new Jordan, entitled “The Islamist Movement’s Vision of Reform in Jordan,” demands the implementation of Islamic law, and states that “sharia is the source of the laws and of legislation” (al-Shari’ah al-Islamiyyah hiya masdar al-qawanin wal-tashri’at). The document further states that the "Islamic Movement" seeks to establish Allah's sharia on earth and to construct life on the basis of justice and liberty, in a civil society whose source of authority is Islamic.[24] Far from abandoning the idea of creating an Islamic state that will implement sharia, the MB has established a political party committed to advancing that goal.

The MB and IAF oppose the Jordanian government on the most critical strategic issues. Several fatwas issued by the IAF's committee of sharia scholars denounced Jordan's alliance with the United States and its assistance to American and allied forces in Iraq. They also attacked the Jordanian king directly, stating that a ruler who allies himself with the enemies of his religion and his nation becomes one of them.[25] Another IAF fatwa proclaimed that Jordan’s relations with Israel contradicted the sharia and must be severed. It said that maintaining those relations amounted to a betrayal of Allah, the Prophet and the Muslim Nation.[26] The IAF has additionally supported the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria-Hamas axis and maintained close contacts with the Syrian regime, despite that regime’s persecution of the Syrian branch of the MB.

The Jordanian Brotherhood's strong ties to Hamas raise the question of whether it still is a truly Jordanian organization. Unlike their Egyptian counterparts, the Jordanian Brothers have stated clearly that their aim is to reach power without delay. Following Hamas’s 2006 victory in Gaza, IAF leaders expressed confidence that they, too, would soon win an electoral victory, boasting that the Islamic movement was ready to assume political power.[27]

As the Jordanian MB has become more radical, however, the government has moved to limit its power and influence. It passed legislation limiting the Brotherhood’s dawa activities and implemented new measures to control the movement’s financial arm and thus reduce its ability to sustain its country-wide network of social, educational and religious institutions. In July 2007 the MB escalated the standoff with the government by withdrawing from municipal elections while they were in progress, accusing the government of fraud, and threatening to boycott the November 2007 legislative elections. The government responded by signaling that it might ban the Brotherhood from politics.

This confrontation led to an internal dispute within the Brotherhood. Ultimately, more pragmatic voices overcame the opposition of hardliners, and the Brotherhood participated in the legislative elections. But it won only 7 out of the 22 seats that it contested, compared to the 17 it had won in the previous elections.

The Jordanian Brotherhood subsequently claimed that the elections were rigged by the government. But according to reliable observers, the Brotherhood’s electoral setbacks can not be ascribed wholly to the government’s interference. Observers believe that some voters may not have supported the Brotherhood because of its close association with Hamas, whose popular appeal has been waning somewhat especially since its violent takeover of Gaza. In any case, the disaffection of voters with the Brotherhood is cited as a major factor in that electoral defeat. As Muhammad Abu Rumman, the Jordanian expert on the MB, has explained:

The organization has totally failed to offer the public a convincing political discourse which would transcend resounding slogans. The people are fed up with those slogans and know for certain that they are unrealistic and incongruous with the citizen's concerns and grave economic conditions. The Brotherhood's electoral campaign was characterized by old, used-up phrases which exposed its candidates as being devoid of any realistic political vision.[28]

This political failure was only one more demonstration of the Jordanian Brotherhood's crisis. That crisis has produced criticism of the MB leadership and calls for a dramatic change of direction. Even before the elections, Ibrahim Gharaibah, a former senior MB member, proposed sweeping organizational and ideological changes, arguing that the Brotherhood had outlived its original mission and that it had lost its direction.  He further said that the Brotherhood must choose between three different courses of action—namely, dawa, politics or social work—because it was impossible to combine them. He urged the Brotherhood to become a social movement that would focus on organizing and leading the middle classes in the face of new challenges posed by globalization and privatization. Alternatively, he suggested that the Brotherhood movement could either transform itself completely into a political party or turn its political arm into a party that was truly independent of the wider movement.[29]

An article on the Jordanian MB’s official website offered yet another strategy, urging the Brotherhood to think "creatively" about new ways to confront repressive regimes. It proposed changing the rules of the political game—for example, by organizing large-scale civil disobedience.  It called for an end to the "Meccan period" in the Brotherhood’s thinking—an allusion to the time when the Prophet Mohammed and his followers were persecuted by the tribes of Mecca, which Mohammed ended abruptly by immigrating to Yathrib. The article further suggested that the MB should react more aggressively to regime repression and follow Hamas’s example. "If the Brotherhood's bones are to be broken, why not break the enemy's bones too?" asked the writer.[30]

 MB Views of the “Turkish Model”

The AKP’s July 2007 victory in the Turkish elections generated mixed reactions amongst MB branches throughout the Arab world. Some saw the AKP’s success as a vindication of the Brotherhood’s strategic decision to participate in electoral politics. Others expressed strong reservations to the very idea of considering the AKP an Islamist party, and voiced doubts about whether the AKP’s victory should rightly be considered a victory for the Islamic movement.

Among the AKP’s supporters, Shaykh Faisal Mawlawi, the head of Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyya, the Lebanese Brotherhood branch, had no problem with the AKP’s professed commitment to secularism. The AKP did not abandon its Islamic principles, he said, but only tried to achieve what was possible in difficult conditions. Moreover, he argued that the AKP had succeeded in moving a step closer to an original Islamic solution that could be developed and implemented in the age of materialistic globalization.[31] Abdelilah Benkirane, a leader of the Moroccan Justice and Development Party, was more skeptical. As he said, the AKP “are far more advanced in politics than us: We are still in the dawa phase. And they may be a role model, but they make too many concessions on Islam: They even serve alcohol at their official receptions, it’s shameful.”[32]

For their part, the leaders of the Egyptian Brotherhood rejected any suggestion that their organization was analogous to the AKP. That was probably in reaction to calls for the Egyptian MB to emulate the AKP by shedding the traditional Ikhwani ideology, which some have described as unpopular and hence, useless in the political arena. Additionally, the Egyptian Brotherhood's leadership argued forcefully that the AKP was not the right role model for the Islamic movement.[33] Among other things, they claimed that the AKP's goal was merely to wield political power without generating a tangible, substantive Islamic change in society. The Brotherhood, by contrast, seeks political power for the purpose of creating a fully Islamic society. Furthermore, the Egyptian MB leaders pointed out that Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan adheres to the rules of the Turkish political system, to Turkey’s constitution, and to the country’s secular identity. This adherence to secularism—or the “AKP’s choice,” as the Egyptian leaders described it—cannot be the Brotherhood’s position in any form. They said that Brotherhood seeks to revive the unified Islamic nation, restore its leading global role, and reestablish the Islamic Caliphate, whereas the AKP has no universal Islamic agenda—and even worse, seeks integration into Europe.

The MB and the United States

Neutralizing American opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood is a key objective in the Egyptian MB’s plan to prepare the way for its future assumption of political power. The Brotherhood’s “Reform Initiative,” which was launched in March 2004, aimed to persuade outsiders that the Brotherhood was in fact a “moderate Islamist” movement. The MB remains unwilling, however, to pay for dialogue with the United States by making any substantial ideological or political concessions. And as the self-appointed leader of the Arab Islamic struggle, the Egyptian MB continues to hold firm to the idea that its overall project is in total conflict with that of the United States.

In the view of General Guide Akif, the policies of the United States are particularly hostile toward the Arab and Muslim world.[34]  He stated in a recent missive that Islam is the only way to save the international community from American tyranny, which is bound to spread a "destructive chaos" (a swipe aimed at what the MB perceives to be the American notion of spreading “constructive chaos” in order to reform the Middle East) and destroy the whole world.
In another recent missive Akif called on young jihadis, like those who committed the suicide attacks in Morocco and Algeria, to direct their efforts, using all possible means, “against the real enemy of the Nation (Umma), the enemy which occupies, kills, desecrates and plunders . . . in al-Quds, in Baghdad and in Kabul.”[35] Akif’s deputy, Muhammad Habib, said that the role of the Brotherhood was to resist “the American project, which seeks to bring the Nation down to its knees, to weaken its faith, to corrupt its morality, to plunder its resources, and to eradicate its cultural particularity.”[36]

Second generation MB leaders like Issam al-Aryan have expressed interest in  dialogue with the United States. But al-Aryan, too, has held firmly to the position that the Brotherhood's project is fundamentally opposed to the American one. He  welcomed dialogue “as a cultural and human value,” but at the same time pointed to a basic conflict between, on the one hand, “the growing American project of empire and hegemony,” and on the other, the Brotherhood's project of constructing an Islamic revival, liberating Muslim lands from any foreign influence, unifying the Arabs, and creating an international Islamic order (kiyan dawli islami).[37]

In July 2007 al-Aryan called for opening relations with the West, but he warned that the Muslim Brothers should not submit to Western dictates and unfair preconditions. The purpose of any dialogue with the West, as he saw it, was to demand that the West respect the right of Muslims to choose their way of life and to be ruled by the sharia (wa-shari’atihim allati tahkumuhum). The West should not impose another system on Muslim countries.[3

The Shia Question

While Egyptian Brotherhood leaders have voiced criticisms about Iran's role in Iraq and the Shi'a resurgence, they also see Iran and Hezbollah as major partners in the struggle against Israel and the U.S. In the past, this has meant that the Egyptian MB has routinely rejected the view that Iran constitutes a strategic threat to Arabs. Moreover, it has generally welcomed Iran’s nuclear program by reiterating the Iranian regime’s claim that the program was for peaceful purposes, while at the same time adding that any possible military purpose would “create a sort of a balance” between the Arab and Islamic world, on the one hand, and Israel and its allies on the other.[39]

The Egyptian MB has also tended not to show much concern over Iran’s efforts to spread Shi’a Islam in Arab countries. Akif has repeatedly dismissed the phenomenon of Sunni conversions to Shi’a Islam in Egypt as insignificant, and has rejected the idea of a rising, increasingly powerful “Shi’a crescent” as neither logical nor realistic.[40] His position has been that the rivalry between Sunnis and Shi’a should be postponed until the day when the Muslim Nation has won its battles with the West and the Muslims have recovered all their rights.

In May 2007, however, the Egyptian Brotherhood’s public pronouncements about Iran and the Shi’a as a whole seemed to change somewhat after meetings between the United States and Iran were announced. Akif, for instance, warned that such negotiations were likely to make Iran the dominant regional actor and thus would threaten the power of Arab Sunni states.[41] More recently, the Deputy General Guide Habib said that Iran’s role in the Middle East was “raising concerns,” and that Iran was seeking to enlarge its sphere of influence into Arab societies. He added, however, that Iran’s strategy was a legitimate response to American policies in the region, and roundly criticized what he called the "Arab moderate axis" for serving American interests. He further urged Arab countries to stand up to the United States and support Islamic "resistance projects" (mashru'at al-muqawamah) worldwide.[42]

Generally speaking, the Jordanian MB’s attitude toward Iran and toward Shiism as a whole appears to be much less coherent than that of the Egyptian branch. In fact, the MB’s Jordanian branch appears to be internally deeply divided on the Shia question. The takfiri, anti-Shi’a sentiment within its ranks conflicts with its professed solidarity with Hamas, Iran's ally. Therefore, while the Jordanian MB highly values Iran's support of the Palestinian cause, it has also been deeply critical of Iran's role in the destruction, sectarianism, and violence against Sunnis in Iraq, going so far as to allege that Iran actually facilitated the American invasion of that country. It has also been claimed that Iran helped the United States topple the Sunni Taliban regime in Afghanistan.[43]

Jan. 3, 2007 As an example see, Egyptian court: "Islam is the final and most complete religion and therefore Muslims already practice full freedom of religion and cannot convert"

1. Khalil al-'Anani, "Hal Iktamal Qaws Intikasat al-Islamiyyin al-'Arab?", 27 September 2007.

2. Idris Lagrini, “Al-Harakat al-Islamiyyah al-Musharikah fi al-Mu`assasat al-Siyasiyyah fi al-Bilad al-‘Arabiyyah wa-Turkiya,”; Ámru Hamzawi, “Anmat Musharakat al-Harakat al-Islamiyyah fi al-Siyasah al-‘Arabiyyah,” Al-Hayat  (24 July 2007); ‘Abd al-Salam Tawil, “Qira`ah fi al-Masar al-Siyasi li-Hizb al-‘Adalah wal-Tanmiyah al-Maghribi”,; Husam Tamam, "Al-Maghrib–Dars fi al-'Alaqah bayna al-Da'awi wal-Siyasi, fi Manhajiyat al-Tamyiz wa-Idaratihi Waqi'iyyan,", 25 July 2006.


4. Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 14.

5., 3 March 2004.

6. “Inside the Muslim Brotherhood—an Interview with Abdul Moneim Abu El-Foutouh,” Islamism Digest (August 2006),

7. “Dr. al-‘Aryan Yaktub: Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun wa-intikhabat Majlis al-Shura, limadha Nashtarik?”, 22 May 2007.

8. “Barnamaj Hizb al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin, al-Isdar al-Awwal,” 25 August 2007.

9. Muhammad Baha`, "Barnamij Hizb al-Ikhwan- Iyjabiyyat wa-Silbiyyat,", 24 September 2007.

10. First Deputy General Guide Muhammad Habib, quoted in, 16 August 2007.

11. “Ta'dilat Mufakkir Qubti 'ala Barnamaj al-Ikhwan,”, 3 September 2007.

12. "Abu al-Futuh Yahki Qissat Barnamij al-Ikhwan,", 9 October 2007.

13. Al-Sharq al-Awsat (30 June 2007);, 28 May 2007. See also Mamduh Thabit, “Qiyadi Munshaqq ‘an al-Ikhwan Yad’u ila ‘Tayar Badil,”, 31 May 2007; ‘Abdullah al-Tahawi, “Kuntu Ikhwaniyan,”, 21 May 2007; “Al-Tayar al-Badil,”

14. ‘Abdullah ben Fahd al-Nafisi, “Al-Halah al-Islamiyyah fi Qatar,” Al-Manar al-Jadid, no. 37 (January 2007),

15. “Al-‘Awa: Ad’u al-Ikhwan ila Tark al-‘Amal al-Siyasi,” Islamonline  (10 June 2007),

16., 21 July 2007;, 5 August 2007; Muhammad Habib,, 16 August 2007.

17. “Al-Watha`iq al-Sirriyyah lil-Ikhwan al-Muslimin” (The Secret Documents of the MB), Al-Musawwar Weekly (3 June 1994): 20-23, 70-73; “Khuttat al-Ikhwan lil-Istila` ‘ala al-Hukm” (The MB’s Plan to Take Over Power), Al-Musawwar Weekly (10 June 1994): 14 -19, 78.

18. Interview in, 27 March 2007.

19., 15 August 2007.

20. Interview in, 27 March 2007.

21. Interview in

22. “The Objectives and the Means” of the Jordanian MB, posted on the organization’s official site,

23. IAF’s  Fundamental Regulations–The Seventh Edition, posted since 1 August 2002 on the IAF’s official website,

24., accessed 17 September 2007.


26. “Fatwa Shar’iyyah Sadirah ‘an Lajnat ‘Ulama al-Shari’ah al-Islamiyyah fi Hizb al-‘Amal al-Islami,”, 8 April 2002.

27. IAF leader Zaki Bani Irshid iterview on, 13 May 2006.
[1] Muhammad Abu Rumman, "al-Ikhwan ba'd al-Hazimah",  Al-Ghad, 22 November 2007,

29. Ibrahim Gharaibah, “Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun fi Muwajahat al-Mustaqbal,”, 30 May 2007; Ibrahim Gharaibah, "Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun wa-Tahawwulat al-‘Amal al-Siyasi,”, 5 June 2007.

30. Usama Abu Irshid, "Hamas Tudashshin Bidayat Nihayat 'al-Hiqbah al-Makkiyyah' fi al-Tafkir al-Ikhwani,", 22 June 2007.

31., 24 July 2007.

32. Quoted by Wendy Kristiansen, “Can Morocco’s Islamists Check al-Qaida?” Le Monde diplomatique (August 2007),

33. Jum'ah Amin 'Abd al-'Aziz, Al-Mas`alah al-Turkiyyah wa-Tawdhih al-Afham,”, 2 August 2007; Muhammad Mursi,  “Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun wal-Ahzab al-Islamiyyah al-Mu’asirah,”, 5 August 2007.

34.  “Amrika Tanshur al-Fawdhah fi al-‘Aalam,”, 31 May 2007.

35. “Al-Mashru’ al-Amriki al-Sahyuni,”, 19 April 2007.

36., 24  May 2007.

37. “Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun wa-Amirika,”, 21 December 2005.

38. Issam al-‘Aryan, “Hal Yumkin an Yatakarrar fi al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi ma Hadatha fi Turkya?”, 30 July 2007.

39. "Misr: al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun la Yumani’un fi Hiyazat Iran Silahan Nawawiyyan,” Al-Sharq al-Awsat (18 April 2006).

40. Akif in, 27 March 2007;, 11 February 2007.

41., 31 May 2007.

42., 15 August 2007;, 16 August 2007.

43. Muhammad al-Najjar, “Ikhwan al-Urdun wa-Iran–Bidayat Talaq am Muraja’at ‘Alaqat?”, 12 February 2007.

44. Muhammad Abu Rumman, “Islamiyyu al-Sharq fi Hadhrat al-Ustadh Erdogan,”, 29 July 2007.

45. Khalil al-'Anani, "Hal Iktamal Qaws Intikasat al-Islamiyyin al-'Arab?",, 27 September 2007.