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Is This the End of an Era For the Muslim Brotherhood?

Egypt's interim government is threatening to dissolve the group and place it on the terrorist list.
Policemen stand guard inside a room of the al-Fath mosque when supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi exchanged gunfire with security forces inside the mosque in Cairo August 17, 2013.The gunmen opened fire on security forces from a second floor window in the Fath mosque, where hundreds of Mursi supporters have been taking refuge since protests turned violent on Friday.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST RELIGION) - RTX12OKU

The interim Egyptian government is threatening to ban the Muslim Brotherhood and place it on the terrorist organization list in Egypt. Blaming a defiant Brotherhood for the deadly confrontations, attacks on churches, police stations and government buildings, Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi proposed dissolving the group. The Brotherhood’s assets may be confiscated, operations prohibited and membership criminalized. This move could usher in mass arrests of members countrywide. If considered a terrorist organization, the Brotherhood will be excluded from the political process. How did we get to this point and what does this mean to hopes of returning to calm and an end to violence in Egypt.

Few people know that the Muslim Brotherhood organization had always been banned in Egypt since 1948. After several assassinations and bombings which took the lives of several prime ministers, judges and even disavowed members of the Brotherhood itself. The long list included Ahmed Maher, al-Nokrashy, al-Khazendar and Fayez Halawa. In 1954, the Brotherhood made an attempt on Gamal Abdel Nasser, then Egypt’s prime minister. Following that, many of the Brotherhood leaders were arrested and received long prison and even death sentences. In the 1970s, Sadat allowed the Brotherhood and Islamists to regroup in an effort to use them against Nasserists and socialists as the group had been used in the 1940s, against communism. It was ironic for Sadat to be killed at the hands of Islamists in 1981. Most Islamist terrorist organizations that  exist in the world today are spin-offs of the Brotherhood which was never legally resurrected since the 1950s. In Egypt, the Brotherhood started again to operate as a clandestine organization owning businesses, manipulating unions and syndicates, operating charities often linked to mosques and also having its own militias. Money poured from local and overseas operations which the Brotherhood had in 80 countries. Despite having no legal political party, the Brotherhood was allowed by the Mubarak regime to field candidates in parliamentary elections since 1983. In 2005, it managed to get around 20% of the seats.

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