Although the precise relationships among various Brotherhood groups have always been shadowy and despite the fact that there is no centralized organization of Brotherhood groups, there is a lot of coordination, includingfinancial aid, among them.

Today, as always, the Egyptian branch is the largest and most powerful. Founded in 1928, having collaborated with Nazi Germany, then carried out terrorism in the 1940s and early 1950s, the Brotherhood was suppressed by Egypt’s radical nationalist regime. It was allowed to revive in the 1970s but was constantly under harassment, though at times it ran in elections. Now it has emerged as the strongest political force in Egypt, seemingly headed toward state power for the first time.

Of special significance, the Brotherhood has spread to Europe and North America. There, thanks to both naïve government policies and nottoo- bright media coverage, the group dominates Muslim communities.

IS THE Muslim Brotherhood moderate? Think of the Brotherhood as having the same relationship to Islamism as the Communist Party has to Marxism. In other words, the Brotherhood is the political realization of Islamist theology, which potentially makes Egypt the Red Crescent equivalent of the Hammer and Sickle. Oh yeah, it also makes 2011 into the equivalent of 1917.

Or, in the words of the man who I think is just about the best political analyst in the Arab world, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid: “The Islamist party leaders hastened to embellish their image for the Western countries…. Of course, these speeches are public relations acts, and could only be believed by someone ignorant about the region or by the logic of the religious parties. [At most, this claim of moderation] expresses the opinion of [a] few leaders only, because the majority of leaders and cadres of these groups consider cleansing the society as their first duty, and it would not be long before they topple the tolerant leaders.”


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