What is the Muslim Brotherhood?
Al Jazeera profiled the group (see video below, which this article summarizes).
The American media tends to portray the Muslim Brotherhood as a dangerous and violent force, but its leaders say that they are a benign social movement. Al Jazeera characterized the American media as "fear-mongers of the west."
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. The Brotherhood's goal was to spread Islam from Spain to Indonesia. Their message was simple: "Islam is the solution." This message caught on.
About a decade after its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood began to interfere in politics and gained a reputation for violence when it targeted British operations in 1946 and assassinated the Egyptian prime minister in 1948. In a retaliation, the head of the movement was assassinated in 1949. In 1954, the Brotherhood was convicted of the attempt to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser, head of the Egyptian government. As a result, the movement was banned.
By the 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence and said that its focus would be on social justice and the promotion of Islam. The political views of the Brotherhood are fragmented and constantly evolving. Brotherhood organizations of different countries frequently disagree with one another.
Overall, the Muslim Brotherhood says that its attitudes toward Israel have changed over the years. The Brotherhood does not recognize Israel but says that it will not fight Israel or get involved with the Palestine issue because it is focused on the greater Islamic cause. This varies with statements made after the Egyptian uprising, when the deputy leader of the Brotherhood said the Brotherhood would seek the dissolution of Egypt's 32-year peace treaty with Israel. Another Brotherhood spokesman said that the Brotherhood would respect the treaty as long as "Israel shows real progress on improving the lot of the Palestinians."
Al Jazeera reports that during the Egyptian uprising, the Brotherhood was late coming in. However, it brought a sense or organization and plan on how to respond when then-President Mubarak's loyalists attacked the protesters.
It is unclear whether the conservative Islamic views of the Brotherhood will be adopted by younger generations or whether the young will change the nature of the Brotherhood. Some experts speculate that younger people are more concerned about economic change and freedoms.