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Muslim Brotherhood gains power in Egypt

March 25, 2011 at 8:45 AM   |   Comments

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CAIRO, March 25 (UPI) -- The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic group once banned by Egypt, has become a force as the country undergoes a change in government, observers said.

Because of its organization and network, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an advantage while the post-Hosni Mubarak government takes shape, The New York Times reported Friday. What is surprising to some are the ties the organization has with its adversary, the military.

"There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on," said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. "It makes sense if you are the military -- you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street."

In the early stages of the upheaval in the country earlier this year, the Muslim Brotherhood was reluctant to join the call for demonstrations.

"The Brotherhood didn't want this revolution; it has never been a revolutionary movement," Zarwan told the Times. "Now it has happened; they participated cautiously and they realize they can set their sights higher."

A tangible example of the organization's influence was a recent referendum on constitutional amendments in the nation's first post-Mubarak balloting, the Times reported. Among other things, the amendments call for an accelerated election process so parliamentary contests can be held before September, followed by a presidential race. That expedited calendar is seen as advantageous to the organized and highly networked Brotherhood and the remains of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

The more secular coalition behind the uprising said more liberal forces must organize quickly.

"I worry about going too fast towards elections, that the parties are still weak," said Nabil Ahmed Helmy, former dean of the Zagazig University law school in Egypt and a member of the National Council for Human Rights. "The only thing left right now is the Muslim Brotherhood. I do think that people are trying to take over the revolution."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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