10 questions with the editors of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Report

3. Does the Muslim Brotherhood have significant support in Egypt? What percentage of the vote would they get if elections were held and they chose to participate?

Clearly the Muslim Brotherhood does have significant support in Egypt although nobody can say exactly how much and what percentage of the vote they would get in truly free elections. In the 2005 parliamentary elections they won 88 seats (20% of the total) to form the largest opposition bloc.

4. There is a view in some quarters that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t believe in violence but only spreading their message through da’wa (preaching). Is this so?

This is simply not true. In general, the Muslim Brotherhood publicly holds to the doctrine of “defensive jihad”, the idea that a violent response is justified where Muslims or their land or honor is under attack.

For example, the whole of the Global Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas, whose charter says they are part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and provides significant financial and other assistance, notably through a global coalition of charities headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. Qaradawi himself has ruled repeatedly that suicide bombings against Israel are justified as a form of resistance to what it sees as Israel’s occupation of Muslim lands.

In other cases, Islam is to be spread though da’wa (preaching) and Sheikh Qaradawi famously said “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through da’wa.”

5. What would a Muslim Brotherhood controlled (or significantly influenced) Egypt look like internally?

We generally don’t like to make predictions and this is really impossible to know. Some analysts are looking to Iran or to the Hamas government in Gaza as examples but Egypt is a very different place with its own unique culture and environment. We will simply have to wait and see how events play out.

6. If the Muslim Brotherhood took control of Egypt (or was at least a significant influence in the government), how would Egypt’s foreign policy change? Do you believe war with Israel would be a serious possibility?

Clearly Egyptian foreign policy would change, although exactly how is again a matter of speculation. That said, the Brotherhood is implacably opposed to Israel and, less well known, views itself in a cosmic struggle with worldwide Judaism, viewed by the Brotherhood as dead set on the destruction of Islam.

As for going to war with Israel, Egypt is not in a position economically to put itself entirely at odds with the West given its reliance on U.S. aid, tourism, and economic relationships. However, rational economic calculus is not always in operation. The most likely result is an attempt to bring Egypt into the Syria/Iran/Hamas axis which would certainly make life more difficult for U.S. policy makers. Also, it is unlikely that Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood influence would continue the close count-terrorism cooperation with the U.S.