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Egypt’s unrest doesn’t end Muslim Brotherhood’s hold, says TU professor

The Muslim Brotherhood may have lost its hold on the president’s office in Egypt, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of power—or will ever be. That’s the thrust of an op-ed piece from history professor Robert Rook in the New York Daily News.

Robert RookThe piece, which ran Friday, points out that the Muslim Brotherhood has historically accomplished far more than political and cultural violence and assassinations. Rook explains that it takes action where government sometimes does not, and cites a major earthquake in 1992 as an example.

“Within hours, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was in the streets providing immediate and significant relief to victims,” Rook writes, “deploying resources via institutions and with an efficiency that the government of President Hosni Mubarak could not match.”

The reason the Brotherhood failed in keeping now deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in office, Rook explains, is that it doesn’t lend itself to the service of the more powerful political protestors: young people who dismiss the Brotherhood’s tenants to “listen and obey.”

Rook notes that half of all Egyptians are 25 or younger, which is what gives Egypt’s Arab spring movement its strong legs. But what works to the Brotherhood’s advantage is its decades of practiced organization coupled with its influences on non-governmental organizations, leadership in professional organizations and positions in the Egyptian legislature through sanctioned political parties.

“There was, and is, great depth and [subtlety] to the Muslim Brotherhood’s politics, even amid its blunders over the previous year,” Rook says.

The movement in Egypt may be perplexing to outside observers. Beginning in January 2011, protestors demanded the end of then-president Hosni Mubarak’s time in office. Clashes between protestors and security forces led to nearly a thousand deaths and more than 6,000 injuries. The military helped throw Mubarak out in February, promised it would step aside quickly, then ruled until June of 2012. The outcry against military rule was great, and Mohammed Morsi came to office via democratic elections. Now protestors have demanded his ouster, leading to a military coup, and everything seems back to where it was nearly 18 months ago. Since the coup, protestors loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood have been fighting the military to reinstall Morsi. On Monday, 54 people were killed in violent clashes in Cairo as the Brotherhood called for nothing less than a rebellion against the army.

Should the U.S. step in? Not according to Rook.  “We are in the second or third inning of a likely extra inning event and the lines between the spectators and the players are irrevocably blurred,” he cautions. “We cannot, and should not, interrupt a political process that belongs exclusively to Egyptians.”

Read Rook’s full piece in the New York Daily News here.

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