Muslim Brotherhood in decline?

May 15, 2009 at 4:34 PM

CAIRO, May 15 (UPI) -- The once-radical Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt finds itself struggling for support following a modest shift into political life, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Muslim Brotherhood formed in 1928 as an opposition to European colonialism, emerging as a violent movement in the region. Sayyid Qutb, a leading intellectual in the group, provided the basis for jihadist ideology, inspiring militant leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

In the 1970s the brotherhood denounced violence, however, focusing on social service and political dissent to advocate the formation of a society based on the principles of Islam.

The group gained significant political momentum recently, scoring 20 percent of the seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections in Egypt.

But a government backlash and discontent among many constituents over its ability to govern has put the group on the offensive, the Journal reports.

The report suggests the declining influence of the brotherhood could give Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak free rein to engage Israel and move closer to the United States.

Meanwhile, critics say that once the brotherhood entered the government officially, its vague slogans advocating Islamic rule fell flat as the party struggled to find its political voice.

"When we're not advancing, we are retreating," Mohamed Habib, deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, told the Journal. "And right now we are not spreading; we are not achieving our goals."

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