What Americans Should Know About Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
By Eric Trager, Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Reviewed by Norvell DeAtkine
In a speech delivered at the 17th Annual Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs on November 20, 2012, Eric Trager succinctly presented the dangers of an American facile acceptance of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt.
Trager explained how Muslim radicals were able to take over a revolution genuinely set in motion by a young secular segment of the population. He presented three primary reasons: first, they have a tightly organized committed membership; second, they have a strong nation-wide structure which enables them to act as a militia movement; and third, they have a controlling leadership that quickly reacts to on-going situations.
Trager, who spent considerable time in Egypt during and after the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, pointed out the intricate requirements for an individual to become a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the length of time required to rise in the organization, much like the Ba’ath party of Syria and Iraq, which in turn were patterned after Communist organizations.
Beginning at the lowest level, a Brotherhood cell has five to eight members who discuss and learn by rote appropriate passages from the Quran. After the cell comes the sho’aba of six to twelve “families” (cells) which combine into a murtaqa at a regional level. At the apex are the Guidance Council, an executive committee and finally the shura of 120 members. This tight organization with a decisive ideologically-oriented leadership outmaneuvered the disorganized secular parties at every turn.
Finally, Trager presented a clear picture why Egypt in vital to US interests and why Brotherhood rule presents a danger to those interests. He faulted the current U.S . Administration for referring to the Brotherhood as democratic. It is not. It is committed to a radical agenda boding ill, especially for the Christian minority in Egypt and American interests.