“The Muslim Brotherhood is down, but not out”

Joas Wagemakers at Al Jazeera

Oud-president van Egypte Mohamed Morsi. Bron: Wilson Dias/ABr, via Wikimedia Commons (CC by 3.0 BR)
Former president of Egypt and member of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Morsi. Source: Wilson Dias/ABr, via Wikimedia Commons (CC by 3.0 BR)

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is currently is a weak state, with an unsure plan for the future. Associate Professor Joas Wagemakers specialises in the Brotherhood and spoke with Al Jazeera about the Islamic movement and its future.


When compared to their electoral success after the overthrow of Egyptian president Mubarak in 2011, one can question the MB’s legacy as a political force. “Things are looking rather bleak for the MB right now, but they have overcome similar crises before.”

However, the MB has weakened. After the overthrow of MB member and president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the brotherhood has little room to act in Egypt. The interim government issued the controversial decision to label the MB as a terrorist organisation and the everchanging politics of the Middle East are making it difficult for exiled members abroad.

Internal crises

The MB also faces problems from within the organisation. There is dissent about whether to condone violence or not, and two camps have emerged. “Those who have given up on the Egyptian government and those who still see hope in peaceful change”, Wagemakers explains.

Another internal crisis is that of authority. The MB values ‘moral authority’ and opts for choosing older leaders, while young members feel that their experiences put them on the same level as the older generation. This makes it difficult for the younger members to accept this moral authority, Wagemakers says.

Future for the Muslim Brotherhood

Despite these challenges, Wagemakers thinks there is a future for the MB. He explains that as long as socially conservative societies with autocratic and corrupt leaders exist in the Middle East, there will be a desire for Islamist opposition groups that aim for change. “The MB is down, but not out.”

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