The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

What Is the Muslim Brotherhood?

Aug 1, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood has had a long and tangled history as an extremely fundamentalist religious and right-wing political organization, aligned with different imperialist powers.

It was set up in 1928 with money from Britain’s Suez Canal Company, and continued to be paid by British secret services. After World War II, it got funding regularly from the U.S., funneled to it through the reactionary regime of Saudi Arabia, which often added its own oil money. Both before and after World War II, the Brotherhood mobilized gangs to carry out attacks on strikes and it pushed a vast anti-communist campaign in Egypt, carrying out assassinations of communist and worker militants.

During the early years of Nasser’s regime – in the 1950s, after the coup of the colonels helped throw out the vestiges of British rule in Egypt – the Brotherhood conspired with Britain in plots to assassinate Nasser, and did actually assassinate lower-ranking members of Nasser’s regime. Finally, the Brotherhood was expelled from Egypt by Nasser, only to base itself in Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi regime funded it and where it worked to reinforce that regime’s reactionary version of Islam.

The Brotherhood was brought back to Egypt after Nasser’s death in 1970, sometimes to be considered illegal, sometimes not. But even when illegal, as in 2005, it was given a place in the Egyptian parliament.